Owning a restaurant does not make you money. Owning a law firm does not make you money. Owning a manufacturing plant does not make you money. However, when you effectively communicate the benefits that make your company valuable and motivate your market to react by making the call or placing an order – you make money.
Communication is a two-way street; it’s a dialogue, not a monologue. When creating a brochure, ad campaign, website or other communication you need to define your objectives by asking what it is you want the customer to do. After reading your materials, should they become more aware of your brand; call for more information; call to place an order; come into the store, to take a test drive, order online? For smaller ticket items your goal is usually to get an order, which is why you ask your customer to “call now and get an additional bonus gift FREE!” For bigger ticket items ($1,000 to $100,000+) your initial goal is to have the prospect commit at least to the next step of the sales process – “call Susan at 1-800-555-1212 for more information…”
Typically when you work with a professional agency, projects begin with an initial creative brief. In the creative brief we use, the most important questions we ask are: 1) what are your objectives 2) what is the key takeaway message you want to communicate, and 3) what is the response mechanism. Each of these three items are imperative to establish before creating a successful ad, brochure, website or program.
Unfortunately, many companies try to save costs by hiring entry-level designers to produce their communication materials. If you work with a freelance designer on a brochure, and they immediately begin laying out some designs, they are doing you a disservice. Most professional agencies will only start with a Creative Brief that outlines your goals / objecives and the following specifics:
• what is the background/history
• what is the objective
• who is the target market, secondary market
• what is the brand strategy/differentiating strategy
• what is the key takeaway
• what single indicator will let you know if this piece (ad, brochure, website, etc.) is a success
• what is the response mechanism – what do you want people to do based on this piece? Call for more info; call to place an order; log on to download a coupon; show up to a promotional event, etc.
An agency should rely on this information as a foundation for any communication, and as a key to getting the consumer to ACT! The main point to being in business is creating profits and staying in business. We need to move product, get the phone ringing and sell more stuff to more people more often. And we have a better chance of being successful if we prove our value, motivate the market to respond, and then ask for the sale.
Too many ads, brochures, annual reports and websites send vague and obscure “feel-good” messages instead of old-fashioned sales-focused communications. Marketing messages like: “Experience the difference,” “Feel the passion,” and “Live the dream,” all give the appearance that these companies enjoy spending money without receiving a response, when they should insist on a message, slogan or tagline that effectively communicates why the market should purchase from them.
Another example of wasting money and resources are teaser campaigns, where companies spend money on a billboard or ad space that says absolutely nothing. They hope you see the next (expensive) billboard or ad to explain what you should have understood from the earlier ad. Never waste money on a teaser campaign – saying nothing is the opposite of asking for a response.
Creating a desired response not only helps create a targeted piece, but also provides a measurement of success for evaluating your communications. Did we hit the target or not? There are many ways to help track your results. For example, open a dedicated 800-number that is only mentioned in your ads. When it rings, count the number of responses and follow them through to conversion rates, sales, and lifetime value of the clients. Or, better yet, open a few dedicated numbers to test which publication or marketing effort is getting the best response. If multiple dedicated lines are not an option, you can code different ads/publications/industries with fictional names, “Call 800… and ask for Pamela” and each time a name is mentioned, track these responses. Additionally, many companies create unique web pages and track log-ins. Last but not least, counting redeemed coupons, promotional give-aways, and promotional event attendance are effective ways to track results.
Focus your brand, communicate your value, prove your value, and increase sales by asking
for a response!
3 tips to keep in mind:
• Establish goals/objectives first. Work with your agency to create the strategy and desired response – only then should you dig into the actual application and creative process.
• Always include a response mechanism by motivating the customer to act. Then track and monitor your results.
• Image is no longer king; profits are king. Response means sales.
Kevin Daniels is a Principle rabble-rouser at Ruckus Creative, llc, with 20 years in advertising and marketing.
Ruckus Creative is a results-driven, full-service creative and branding agency
“Business results through strategic creative.”
4 Hearthside Rd.
Ladera Ranch, CA 92694