Advertising

Adverts

Advertising is a very powerful way to promote your products.  The idea is to find potential customers by placing adverts in a variety of publications.  Networkers usually stick to lower-cost media like local newspapers, magazines and newsletters.

This guidance doesn't consider the other advertising media like national newspapers, radio, television and billboards.  Their high readership / listening / viewing figures tend to make them too pricey for all but the biggest hitters.

Although many network marketers achieve great results using advertising it is not without hard work and careful preparation.  This section runs through the key stages in an advertising campaign - and includes suggestions and questions to consider when designing your particular approach.

One Step Or Two?
Which Media?
Lineage Adverts
Display Adverts
Handling Responses
Payments & Deliveries
Following Up
Sanity Check
Review Results
Further Reading

 

One Step Or Two?

First you must decide what kind of campaign you want to run - one step or two.

In a one-step campaign your advert asks your customers to buy your product immediately.  With paper-based media like newspapers and magazines this is sometimes called off-the-page selling.  The advert has to include enough information to persuade them to buy, and allow them to place their order.

In a two-step campaign the initial advert is only intended to attract the customer's attention - and persuade them to phone or write requesting information.  You capture their contact details and send them a leaflet or brochure.  This contains enough information to persuade them to buy, and allow them to place their order. 

The telesales variant of the two-step campaign asks the customer to phone for more information.  When they phone in, you answer their questions and try to clinch the sale there and then.  It can work well but requires good telephone technique.

An advert for a one-step campaign has to attract the reader, and include the full sales pitch and ordering information.  So it tends to be quite large - and therefore expensive.  So most network marketers use two-step campaigns.

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Which Media?

There are lots of different media that will happily take your money and run an advert for you.  You only have to pop into any big newsagents to see the enormous range of paper-based newspapers and magazines being published.  Then there are literally thousands of low-readership specialist magazines and newsletters that don't make it on to the newsagents' shelves.

Think about the product you are trying to sell - and more importantly - think about the kind of people who are likely to buy it.  Which publications are they likely to read?  Don't just think about well-known titles.  If your product is aimed at a select group of people then look for media aimed at that group.

For example, if you're selling pet products, look for magazines about pets, or newsletters from pet animal charities.  They may not have lots of readers but there will be a high proportion who might buy pet products.  And for fewer readers you should expect the advertising rates (prices) to be more affordable.

When you've picked out a few likely publications to advertise in, find out more about them.  Buy a sample copy and make sure it really is the sort of publication you want to be associated with.  See who else is advertising in it.  Do they seem reputable?  Or a bit dodgy?

Phone the publication's ad sales department and ask them about their readers.  How many are there?  What kind of people are they?  Young?  Elderly?  Male?  Female?  Parents with children?  Single people?  What are their interests?  Fishing?  Gardening?  How wealthy are they?  The publishers ought to be able to tell you more than just the bare readership numbers.  

Try to work out if the publication's readers are the sort of people who are likely to be interested in your product.  And how many of them?  All of them?  Half of them?  A quarter?  Ten percent?  Five percent?  Less?  

If you're advertising gardening products in a gardening magazine then probably all of their readers will be interested in your product.  If you're advertising them in your local paper then perhaps only ten percent will be interested.  This estimate has to be a bit rough but it's important - so make your best guess!

Finally, make sure you get an accurate picture of their advertising rates (prices) and their copy deadline (the last date they can accept an advert for a particular issue).  Watch out for hidden extra costs like typesetting or photography.

Any good ad sales person will make you a special offer and try to sign you up there and then.  Don't let them hassle you into a rushed decision.  Get them to tell you what you want to know - then say you want to think it over before deciding.

Remember: It's worth taking your time to get your planning right because it's easy to waste a lot of money and effort on unsuccessful adverts.

Finally, for each of the candidate publications, work out the Value For Money rating - our transatlantic cousins charmingly call this the "bang for a buck".  How many interested readers you can contact for each £1 spent?

Take the publication's readership figure - adjusted by your guess at the percentage interested in your product.  Then divide this figure by the price of the advert, ie:

Value For Money  =  Readership  x  % Interested  ÷  Advert Cost

Obviously, to get the most out of your hard-won cash, place your first adverts with the publications offering the best Value For Money.

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Lineage Adverts

You'll find lineage adverts in almost every publication - often in Classified Adverts sections.  They're the simplest form of advertising - close-typed lines of text, usually paid for by the line or word.  They can be extremely effective.

The great advantages of lineage adverts are: (1) they're quick and easy to produce, (2) the time between the copy deadline and publication is usually very short, and (3) they're usually the cheapest option.

The main disadvantages are: (1) they're often hidden away in a section that many people tend to skim over, and (2) your advert is buried in the middle of a lot of other adverts so it's difficult to make them stand out.

There are some basic rules for writing lineage adverts - but there is also scope for writer's inspiration.  Like most things, the more you do the better you get.  Start by being clear what your advert is intended to achieve.

Most lineage adverts are part of a two-step campaign - where the object is to persuade the reader to phone, write, fax or email for more information.

One-step campaigns - where the object of the advert is to persuade the reader to buy your product immediately - are less common.  There is a limit to the price people will pay "off-the-page" - probably about £10.  Also, it can take a lot of words to describe the product, persuade readers to buy, and tell them where to send their order and payment - which increases the cost.

Think carefully about the best section heading to place your advert in.  Look what headings your chosen publication offers - and pick out two or three possible candidates.  Check what other people are advertising under these headings and pick the one that best suits your product.

All lineage adverts should follow the tried and tested AIDA formula:

attract the reader's Attention
Interest the reader in the product
excite the reader's 
Desire
ask for 
Action from the reader

The first few words of a lineage advert are often printed in bold type or capitals.  Check how many words your chosen publication highlights this way (practices vary).  Use these highlighted words to attract the reader's attention - and make your advert stand out from the rest.  You want them to read your advert - not the others around it.

If your chosen section heading is fairly broad, eg. For Sale, then you should lead with your product, eg. Rare Books.  This will only attract the attention of people who are genuinely interested in rare books.  And you won't risk getting lots of responses from people who don't go on to buy.

If your chosen section heading is fairly narrow, eg. Ford Capri, then lead with the things that make your product different from all the others in the same section, eg. 2.8i, tangerine, fluffy dice.  Don't waste valuable highlighted words by repeating the section heading.  For example, if you're advertising in the Gardening section you should lead with Sheds, not Garden sheds.

Another powerful approach, especially suitable for advertising business opportunities, is to forget the product and lead with the benefit to the customer.  Examples include:  Be your own boss!  Earn in your spare time!  Improve your sex life!  Or you can use blatant attention grabbers like:  Free!  Brand New!  Only £2!  Two for the price of one!

The middle wording needs to interest the reader and build up their desire.  Where possible, emphasise the benefits for them.  Give enough information about the product so they understand what you're offering.  But, if you're two-stepping, don't attempt to do the job of your brochure or your telephone sales pitch.

Make good use of "power words" - words that make the reader sit up and take notice.  These include: avoid, bargain, bonus, discover, earn, easy, enjoy, exciting, exclusive, extra, fast, fortune, free, how to, learn, money, more, mystery, new, now, profit, save, special, win.  Don't force these words into your advert - but use them rather than weaker alternatives.

The tail end of the advert must tell the reader what to do next.  For example:  Phone 01234 567890 for details.  Send 4 x 26p stamps to Fred at ...  Visit our website at www.downline.co.uk.  Proof read this bit especially carefully.  It would be a crying shame to excite your customers' interest and not be able to receive their responses.

Because you are charged by the word, the convention with lineage is to write in the style of a telegram.  So go through your draft advert and see how many words can be left out without changing the meaning.  For example:


Draft Advert
We have a great new business opportunity which can make you and your family more financially secure.  If you're interested in making some extra money, please call me, Bob, on 01234 567890 between 6pm and 10pm any day between Monday and Friday.


Shortened To
Great new business opportunity!  Make your family financially secure.  Phone Bob, 01234 567890, weekday evenings.

Check with your company.  They may already have thought up some effective wording you can use or modify.  Also they may have restrictions about where or how you advertise.  They may insist on approving your advert before it's published.

Make sure you proof read what you send for publication.  Spelling errors and nonsense wording make you look an idiot.  Incorrect contact details will lose you business and annoy your customers.

For most publications there is no flexibility about their advertising deadlines.  If you want your advert to go into a particular issue, get it to the publisher in good time for the deadline.  Make sure you tell them (preferably in writing) which issue you want it to go in.  If you don't tell them it'll be your own fault if it goes wrong.  And you won't be able to claim a refund.

Finally, do check that your advert appears when and where you intended - and without any typing errors.  Demand a re-run and a refund if they don't get it right.

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