I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Free ads can still cost…

In my recent post about saving money in business, I noted that ineffective free ads could be too expensive to run.

While that may seem strange (a free ad costs nothing, right?) it is true.

By free ad I mean any advertising you do that doesn’t directly cost you anything so it may be a free directory listing, adding an email signature, using social media or having a banner in someone else’s newsletter. Free advertising is great for cashflow obviously, and has a number of advantages, but it isn’t always good for business or truly free.

So even free ads need to be reviewed and considered for their value. Consider these examples of how free ads can be much more costly than they first appear…

  1. social media is certainly free in that you don’t pay any fees to join or use those sites. However, you may pay for supporting software and you do pay in time – and the smaller expense of electricity, computer wear and tear, etc. If you are spending hours  tweeting every week (and have done for months) and have never had a sale through Twitter, it is becoming an expensive, ineffective exercise
  2. directories that need regular updating but return nothing are probably not worth the effort, especially as many are only viewed by other business people updating their listings!
  3. notice what response the ad is generating – an ad that brings in a lot of queries but no sales is probably in the wrong place or missing the target. In this case the free ad is costing you in time to answer queries rather than giving you time for genuine customers. Try tweaking to ad or just stop using that free option
  4. ads in disreputable places may also not have a price to add them or take time to maintain, but if they are giving your business a bad image they are very expensive ads. Negative associations are hard to measure as you can’t see which people consciously didn’t come to your website. Just be careful where you are listed, and review sites every so often as they may change over time

Repeat email ads not so good …

If you send out announcements or ads to a mailing list, be careful not to overdo it. I recently received two emails only days apart from the same person for the same ad, although she tried to make it look like two ads – it didn’t impress me as I wasn’t interested in it the first time!

Using a different example, the first message she sent was “Tash is presenting a workshop on clear communications in Mulgrave”; the second message was “Learn about clear communications in our workshop”

I think it is insulting to your readers to assume they can’t tell that this is the same ad in different words – and how embarrassing would it be for someone who tried enrolling in ‘both’ seminars?

If for some reason you are going to repeat an ad to your mailing list, then be honest about it and say so. Some possible introductions are:

  • Apparently some people didn’t get this message so I am sending it again
  • I had to send this again as the date has changed to …
  • Apologies for sending this again, but I felt it was so important I didn’t want to risk you missing out
  • I’m sorry – I sent this to you yesterday but I forgot to add the link so you could book!

However, make sure it is an honest reason you give and don’t do it regularly as it looses any credibility it may have had. I have received emails from people who used the ‘sorry, wrong/forgotten link’ more than once in two months and it looked very tacky and led me straight to the unsubscribe button.

If you are sending an email about somethig with a specific date, such as a workshop, then you can send a reminder closer to the date – note, it should be a reminder not just the same message again. And again, don’t send lots of reminders as that is just as annoying as repeated ads and also makes it less likely that the reader will respond to any of them.

Use your words wisely!

P.S. I am actually giving a workshop on clear communications in Mulgrave on Monday, 26th May. If you can make it, please make sure you introduce yourself to me on the day. 

Writing effective ads

I have seen some ads lately that just don’t do justice to the product/service they are supposed to be promoting. Some are poorly designed so I won’t touch them, but others look great but the words let it down.

The key is knowing the purpose of the ad – is it to get website traffic, explain a new product, attract a certain type of person, increase sales, or …

Once you know the purpose, you can make the headline, graphics and text suit that purpose.

Next is knowing your audience – using terms like ‘lol’, ‘RAM’, ‘html’, ‘ftp’ and ‘ppc’ will work if you are attracting IT specialists but not so well if you are after people in their 80s.

The hard part is then adding enough information to meet your purpose but not so much you overwhelm or bore people. This is definitely the stage where it is valuable to write it, leave it and then review it a few days later.

As well as the above points, you need the basic writing rules, too – good spelling, correct grammar and an easy-to-read format and style. Put it all together and your ads will be much more effective than the ones I mentioned earlier.

Word Constructions
Word Constructions ~ for all your business writing needs