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If your ads aren’t working, you don’t have all three right.

  1. A RELEVANT MESSAGE. The message is clear and the offer is good enough.
  3. TO A RELEVANT AUDIENCE. Where and how you deliver the message.

When advertising doesn’t work, #3 usually gets the blame. (“We tried radio. It doesn’t work!”)

The real problem is almost always number 1 or 2.

All advertising media work – from outdoor billboards and direct mail to radio, television and magazines.

Get consistent with a good strategy (what to say) and a vivid campaign (how to say it). Your ads will work.

  • “I’ve got a great gimmick,” Bill Bernbach famously quipped. “Let’s tell the truth! The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.

    “Anyone who thinks that people can be fooled or pushed around has an inaccurate and pretty low estimate of people – and he won’t do very well in advertising.” – Leo Burnett

    When your advertising is truthful – admitting a negative, highlighting a flaw or simply not exaggerating – a funny thing will happen: people will believe you.


  • When you’re paying for advertising, it’s only natural to believe that people will pay attention. But no one is eager to pay attention to advertising.

    Howard Gossage put it this way: “Nobody pays attention to advertising. People pay attention to what interests them. And sometimes that’s advertising.”

    Roy Williams says simply: “Talk to people the way they talk to each other about things that matter to them.”

    If your ads are full of stuff that actually matters to people you’ll always get results.

    If you’re ads are full of the typical language of advertising – declarative statements, boasting and bragging, unsubstantiated claims, knocks on your competitors – people will ignore your ads.


    “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” Who can argue with the wise and witty sage Mark Twain?

  • Ads are full of unsubstantiated claims. People mostly ignore them.

    Example: “Turner Supply has the largest selection of John Deere Lawn Tractors in the region.”

    Try it this way instead: “Last week, a truck pulled in to Turner Supply and off-loaded 26 new John Deere Lawn Tractors. This week there’s another truck on the way with 26 more John Deeres. And next week, Turner Supply is scheduled to get their final spring shipment of 36 John Deere Lawn Tractors.”

    No one cares that you have “the largest selection.” You’re answering a question no one is asking. They just want to know that you have a good selection. The second example assures them that you do in a vivid and memorable way.

  • We humans mostly only do things that we’ve imagined ourselves doing. Good advertising has you starring in a little movie playing on the silver screen of your mind.

    You’re rehearsing what’s in the ad: You’re eating in that restaurant. You’re switching insurance agents. You’re going to the concert. You’re buying this new truck – not  those other trucks – because this truck’s ad campaign said something that matters. It won you over and you can see yourself driving it.

  • Bob Hoffman says: “I never met an ad that was too simple or too specific.”
    Roy Williams says: “The concrete is more powerful than the conceptual.”

    Which is more vivid and memorable?

    Mario’s Trattoria: “Authentic Italian cuisine. A tantalizing array of beef, chicken, seafood and pasta dishes!”
    Antonio’s Trattoria: “I remember the first time my nana and I made lasagna together for our Sunday family dinner.  I was sixteen. Twenty years later, I started Antonio’s.  We open Sundays at noon and every other day at five.  Bring your nana. I think she’ll like my lasagna.”

  • The purpose of advertising is to sell stuff. A lot of advertising get praised for being “creative.”

    People say, “I like that ad!” But is it selling stuff?

    “The idea isn’t to show how good YOU are, it’s to show how good the product is,” says Lee Koenig, writer of Volkswagon’s landmark Think Small campaign.

    David Ogilvy said, “If it doesn’t sell, it’s not creative.”  Amen!