Advertising Oversimplified

The advice I give to others, I rarely take myself.

I admonish persons who possess detailed knowledge to “dumb it down” so the rest of us can understand because, frankly, we are rarely interested in the mystery and wonder of the unabbreviated truth.

I tell them, “Say it so plainly that you worry you have stripped it of all its truth and beauty.”

I tell them, “Simplify it to such a degree that any person who understands the subject as well as you do will think you’re an idiot.”

That’s how you make things clear.

Today I take my own advice.

  1. If you want to be bigger, advertise as though you were bigger. Don’t calculate your ad budget based on the volume you did last year. Base it on the volume you hope to do this year.

  2. They call it “mass media” for a reason: it reaches the masses. Consequently, you can’t really target using mass media. (TV, radio, billboards)

  3. But don’t worry about that. Use mass media anyway. Targeting is overrated and ridiculously overpriced.

  4. Choose Who to Lose. Correctly-written ad copy will filter out the customers you don’t want and attract the customers you do want.

  5. Filtering through ad copy is how you “target” when using mass media.

  6. Two ways to use mass media:
    (A.) Used consistently, mass media will cause your company to be the one customers think of immediately – and feel the best about – when they finally need what you sell.
    (B.) Used short-term, mass media will give urgency and importance to a special event when you purchase high repetition for a period of time, usually between 1 and 14 days.

  7. Google is the new phone book. Like the Yellow Pages of yesterday, it is the principal resource for buyers who are currently, consciously in the market for a product or service and have no preferred provider. Like the White Pages of yesterday, Google delivers your telephone number, street address, (and business hours) to customers who have already chosen you as their preferred provider.

  8. Customers who come to you through mass media will often be credited to your digital efforts due to the “White Pages” function of Google. They had already chosen you as their preferred provider, but were looking online for your street address, phone number, or business hours.

  9. Regardless of how you win them, it is costly to win a first-time customer. Getting that customer to come back a second, third, or fiftieth time is cheap and easy if they had a good experience the first time.

  10. Advertising is a tax we pay for not being remarkable. So be remarkable! This is what generates word-of-mouth. You’ve got to impress your customer. If you don’t, your competitor will.

  11. Companies that celebrate their victories have happy employees. So find things to celebrate. Happy employees create happy customers.

  12. Most customers are repeat customers or referral customers. Mass media is the most efficient way to maintain top-of-mind awareness among these groups. In addition, it will bring you new, first-time customers.

  13. Your plan to stay in touch with your customers through social media and email blasts is based on the assumption that your customer is willing to open, read, listen to, or watch what you have to say. Is this actually happening? And if not, why not? (HINT: The Subject Line gets people to open it. The content, itself, gets people to share it.)

  14. Thirty-six years ago (1983) David Ogilvy was speaking of newspaper and magazine ads when he wrote, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” Now look at your open rate. What percentage of your online budget has been spent when you’ve written your subject line?

  15. If you have nothing to say, don’t let anyone convince you to say it. Boring, predictable messages make you seem smaller and duller and waste your money. Companies don’t fail due to “reaching the wrong people.” Companies fail due to saying the wrong things.

  16. Predictable ads are about you, your company, your product, your service. Persuasive ads are about the customer, and the transformation your product or service will bring to your customer’s life.

  17. “I, me, my, we, and our” are self-centered words.
    “You and your” are customer-centered words.

  18. Entertainment is the only currency that will purchase the time and attention of a busy public. Are your ads entertaining?

  19. One of the most common mistakes in advertising is to spread your ad budget across several different media so that you “don’t leave anyone out.” But persuasion – in most instances – requires repetition and familiarity. Would you rather reach 100% of the people and convince them 10% of the way, or reach 10% of the people and convince them 100% of the way? Don’t spread your money too thinly by chasing the unicorn of “media mix.”

  20. Expensive rent = cheap advertising. Intrusive visibility – a landmark location with signage that’s noticed even when people aren’t looking for it – is the cheapest advertising money can buy.  This is true for service businesses, too, not just retail. The extra cost for this kind of location should be taken from the ad budget.

These answers are not comprehensive. But to explain the nuances and exceptions to each of these 20 statements would require more of your time and attention than you probably wish to give me.

But if you are one of that rare breed who would be willing to spend the time required to become a true Ad Master, I’ve got wonderful news for you.


Roy H. Williams