What is an Advertisement?
Shopify provides a very good, workable definition for "Advertising":
"Advertising is a marketing tactic involving paying for space to promote a product, service, or cause. The actual promotional messages are called advertisements, or 'ads' for short. The goal of advertising is to reach people most likely to be willing to pay for a company's products or services and entice them to buy."
Treat a Commercial Website Like One Big Advertisement.
A normal commercial website is not some magical, mysterious thing. It's just another form of advertising! So here's a bright idea: Treat Your Website Like an Advertisement!
How do you turn your website into an effective advertisement for your product or service?
In other words, which factors, when put into any advertisement, make it an effective ad that makes people buy?
Commercial Websites and Interest
When making an ad or a website, the 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 someone's attention then it won't be effective because it won't get read. To this, add the fact that internet users are notoriously click-happy. They'll click out of your website the instant they get bored or confused.
However, even the most interesting ad can be completely ineffective. Pictures of pretty girls and kittens and fast cars have long been used on the front covers of print magazines because they attract attention — what you DO with that attention once you have it determines the effectiveness of the ad..
What Makes an Ad Work?
How do you make your interesting ad into an effective advertisement? Easy! An advertisement should include (as part of it) answers to the basic questions the buyer might have, such as what the product is, why someone should get it, and where to obtain it (and any other such basic questions).
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 from you as soon as possible.
List those points out on a piece of paper (as obvious as this may sound, do it anyway) and answer those basic questions. Now make sure that enough of the information you've written down goes into the actual website (your advertisement!) to answer those questions in the mind of anyone visiting your website.
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 in a particular market.
This practice is called "branding" and is a part of "Who is making or selling the product" point above.
The Nike Corporation has spent untold millions of dollars on TV and magazine ads simply establishing its "Whoosh" logo as its brand. Of course the cost of all that wasted advertising gets passed on to the consumer. Would Nike's sneakers cost $500 a pair if they kept their advertising budget in line? Too much money gets wasted this way. Don't be Nike!
The chief complaint of people spending their own money on advertising in print media, TV, radio and on websites, is the lack of a sales return for advertising dollars spent. Don't let this happen to you through your website! Those who sell advertising can tell you that most small businesses must watch very carefully where they spend their advertising dollars.
To have the best chance of your advertisement (your website!) making you money, keep in place all those points listed above.
We started out in business 40 some years ago as the owner and operator of a small regional advertising directory. Most of our advertisers were small businesses or individuals; they did not know how to design advertisements and could not afford to hire PR or advertising firms to design marketing campaigns for them. Some of them couldn't even afford to have a professional graphic artist design a logo or even a single ad for them. But they still needed to advertise!
If we wanted them to have a "professional-looking" advertisement in our directory, we had to make an ad 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. Forty years later, some of those same advertisements we designed are still running!
By the way, while you are rummaging through our website, if you look for them, you'll find all of these six points of an effective advertisement in our presentation—many of them on our home page.
Click the green button below to contact us if you need an ad designed for you or you want specific information on how you can make your website work as an advertisement.