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It's always tricky trying to pitch your adverts correctly for your audience and many entrepreneurs take a ‘catch all’ approach with their advertising copy and try to appeal to everyone who might see their advert.  They tend to put all their efforts into finding the largest number of prospects for their marketing budget, whether it is via the Internet, various types of mailing lists or traditional advertising media like magazines, newspapers, TV and radio.

However, marketing campaigns can be hugely disappointing and despite being seen by huge amounts of potential customers, even a measly 3% version rate is considered to be a success these days.  Could this emphasis on reaching high numbers of potential customers actually be part of the problem?  After all, advertising salespeople are going to persuade advertisers that reaching large amounts of consumers is the key to success -- they make more money with this approach.

What if you were to try a different approach and concentrate more on what you have to say in your advert and put your efforts into finding the right customers, rather than trying to appeal to all and sundry?

Qualify your prospects

Think about who your customers are and don't be afraid to lose prospects who don't fit this profile.  You want to aim to get qualified prospects to your website or your sales brochure, rather than attract hordes of people who will never be motivated to buy -- however good your sales copy it is.

Be honest

This means being honest and specific about your products and services and the benefits they offer without trying to entice anyone and everyone with your advertising copy.  Try to avoid the traditional hype that seems to be everywhere today.  People are becoming desensitised to the usual hard sell and false promises, so get their attention and win their trust by being candid and honest about what your product or service can really do for them.

You will make far more money over the long term if you have a small group of loyal customers on your marketing list than if you have thousands of people browsing your website and sales material with no intention of ever buying anything from you.  It really pays to be honest and gain the trust of your customers.

Grab attention

You have to really work hard with your advert to get your readers attention.  These days we are bombarded from all sides with adverts and other distractions.  Make sure your advert is seen with a powerful headline that is just a bit different from all the others that are out there.  Try a bit of reverse psychology.  For example, if you are trying to sell a top-end product, try a headline that says,’ If you're looking for a bargain, then this is not the product for you’.  That statement will immediately qualify your prospect as someone who is looking for a high quality product.

Use images

One way to make your adverts standout is to use images that immediately convey what your product is about.  Don't make your prospects have to read a single word of your sales copy in order to understand what your product or service can do for them.  This will take a great deal of care and consideration but it is well worth the effort.  It's a cliché, I know, but a picture really does tell a story.  You can use this to your advantage.  The types of images that grab attention include a strong visual focal point such as a close-up photograph of a model looking directly at the camera.  You can also use photographs of your product in use, or images that relay the major benefit of your product or service.  A recent study has shown that when three quarters of advertising space was devoted to illustrations, recognition rates improved by 50%.

Keep it simple

Lots of glaring colours and long blocks of text are very off-putting for readers because it takes effort to get your eye ‘in’ to the advert and make sense of the jumble. However, the clever use of colour and contrast can make your adverts much more noticeable and memorable.  Try a classy black-and-white advert with a black background.  A recent study tested two identical ads for vodka -- one with a white background and another with a black background.  Twice as many people remembered seeing the version with the black background.

Generally, whereas a few years ago, colour adverts performed better than black-and-white, there is so much clutter in the advertising media these days that studies are showing that black-and-white adverts are doing much better than colour in terms of grabbing attention.

However, colour still has a place in advertising and some colours are better than others at helping people remember your ad.  When you advertise in print media, sky blue, gold and yellow and shades of blue-green have been shown to enhance memorability.  A red spot colour stands out in newspapers and has been shown to increase recognition by 20%.

Repeat, repeat, repeat

It is far more effective to repeat an advert on a regular basis then go for a one-off full-page ad.  Repetition is the key to memorability (as well as learning).  The most effective way to advertise is to target your market very precisely and then plan an advertising campaign that gives you exposure over many months.  Decide on your marketing budget over the next year or so before you commit yourself to the size of the advert you buy, and don't forget that a long running campaign should attract plenty of discount, so don't be afraid to negotiate.

Finally, remember that in advertising, it could very well be that quality is much more important than quantity when it comes to reaching prospective customers.

Good luck!