A Commercial Website is an Advertisement
How do you turn your website into an effective advertisement for your product or service?
What factors, when put into an advertisement, make it an effective ad and get people to buy?
Commercial Websites and Interest
Treat any commercial website, first and foremost, as A CONTINUAL ADVERTISEMENT. In application this means that the website's design must include the same points you would expect to find in any effective advertisement. Which begs the obvious question:
What DO you expect to find in a good, effective advertisement that gets people to buy?
Answer: An interesting presentation that creates want through pictures and text.
If an advertisement isn't interesting, that makes it boring by definition (and not worthy of further attention). If an ad doesn't grab and hold one's attention then it won't be effective since it won't get read. To this, add the fact that internet users are notoriously mouse-happy--they'll click out of your website the instant they get bored.
However, even the most interesting ad can be completely ineffective. Pictures of pretty girls and cats and fast cars have long been used in advertising because they attract attention--what you DO with that attention once you've got it determines how effective the ad is.
How to Make an Effective Advertisement
How do you make your interesting ad into an effective advertisement? It will have to include all these following points to be effective:
- WHAT is being sold.
- WHO is making or selling the product.
- HOW MUCH the product costs.
- WHY someone should get the product. And why now?
- WHERE to get the product, or
- HOW to obtain the product.
In short, as well as holding someone's attention and making that person want the product, the ad should contain enough factual information about the product to enable that person to purchase it as soon as possible.
List those points out on a piece of paper and (as obvious as this may sound, do it anyway) answer those questions. Now make sure that enough of the information you've written down goes it into the actual website (or advertisement) to answer those questions in the mind of anyone visiting your website (or reading your ad).
There are many shortcuts made on these six points, especially by corporations with huge advertising budgets. Many advertisements you see focus on only one of these points. Some companies spend barrels of money to establish a brand name presence. This practice is called "branding" and is a part of "Who is making or selling the product" point above.
Nike spent millions of dollars on TV and magazine ads simply establishing its "Whoosh" logo. Of course the cost of all that wasted advertising gets passed on to the consumer. Would Nike's sneakers cost $150 a pair if they kept their advertising budget in line? Too much money gets wasted this way.
The lack of a sales return for advertising dollars spent is one of the chief complaints of those spending their money on advertising in print media, TV, radio and websites. Don't let this happen to you through your website! Those selling advertising can tell you that most small business have to watch very carefully where they spend their advertising dollars. To have the best chance of an advertisement making you money, keep in those points listed above.
We started out in business 20+ years ago as the owner and operator of a small regional advertising directory. Most of our advertisers were small businesses or individuals--they didn't know how to design ads and couldn't afford to hire PR or advertising firms to design marketing campaigns. They couldn't even afford to have a professional design ads for them. If we wanted them to have a "professional looking" advertisement, we had to make it for them, and we learned very quickly that those practical points listed above had to be included in the advertisements we made for the ads to work. It took all the guesswork out of what makes an advertisement work. Twenty years later, some of those same advertisements we designed are still running!
By the way, while you are rummaging through THIS website, if you look you'll find all of these six points of an effective advertisement in our presentation--many of them on our home page.
Contact us here if you need an ad designed for you or you want specific information on how you can make this work on your website.
For two excellent and highly recommended books on advertising, see this section of our books page. If you never read anything else about advertising, you should read David Ogilvy's "Confessions of an Advertising Man." It's hard to find, but worth it.
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