“It’s What You Say…

…multiplied by how many times you say it.”

Roy Williams

If you’re in charge of marketing your business, here’s something that won’t come as a shock: it’s harder to reach potential customers than it’s ever been. Attention spans are shorter, the environment is more cluttered, and your prospects have more ways to filter out your message.

• Voice mail and the Do Not Call list have greatly reduced the effectiveness of cold calling by phone.

• The Internet is turning the printed newspaper into a dinosaur.

• Digital devices like TIVO allow viewers to skip your television commercials.

All of this means that when you accomplish the difficult feat of gaining your prospects’ attention, you’d better tell a story that rewards their interest and moves them closer to doing business with you. The quality of your copy is the most important factor in this, and yet it’s often an afterthought once the media buying decision has been made.

Consumers, always a moving target, are now more elusive than ever. Your job is to get them to stop whatever they’re doing long enough for you to make your pitch. The success, or failure, of your efforts will ultimately come down to the two factors Roy Williams cites:

1.The copy – “What You Say”.

2. The strength of your advertising schedule – “How Many Times You Say It”.

While fragmentation has definitely become an issue, the fact remains that a radio commercial on a major station in Portland will still reach thousands of people at once. They will do their best to ignore you, but a compelling message, delivered steadily for a long period of time, will ultimately break through their filters and cause them to act.

You’d better make sure that the story you’re telling is relevant to your prospects’ lives. If it is, they’ll stop and listen. If it isn’t, they’re gone.

Here are some questions you should consider before writing your copy:

1. What problem is your customer having that you can solve?

2. What product or service do you offer that will solve that problem?

3. Why is your product or service the best choice to solve it? What evidence can you offer to support your claim?

4. How will your customers’ lives be improved when they’ve solved the problem?

5. What do you want your prospects to do after they’ve heard your message? Call your office? Visit your store? Log onto your web site? Define exactly what action you want them to take.

6. Why should they do it now instead of waiting for another time?

All of these questions need to be answered from your customers’ point of view – they will buy for their reasons, not yours.

Once you’ve answered those questions internally, make sure the person who writes your copy has access to them – and has access to you for any follow-up questions.

Fortunes have been lost by business owners who just told an untrained ad rep to “just bang something out.” Your copy — what you say – is too important to be left to chance.

If you’d like more on this topic, I’ve written a white paper called The Seven Deadly Advertising Mistakes and How to Fix Them. It’s a study of some of the most common ways that companies waste their advertising dollars — along with suggestions to make those dollars work harder and smarter. Request your free copy here.


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