How To Make An Ad That Actually Works

This is not the striptease approach to making an ad.

You won’t be drooling and howling. Developing a proper advertisement has to have a template-a map-to bring your quality up to snuff. Failure is likely if you skip these steps. Lets briefly define the sections of the job:

Target Audience
Who are you actually speaking to? The early adapter, or the meat of the market? The low-hanging fruit or the skeptics? What is their age, gender, income and self-image? Shotgun a highly-targeted ad can deliver more bang for your buck.

Are you trying to sell a particular product or promote a whole brand? Should the reader go to your store, visit your website or call NOW? At the very least, create an association between your business and something your audience values. An example would be a tired person working late and an energy drink. 

Primary Message
There is a rule that if you tell a person three things, they will remember none of them. What’s the takeaway for the listener? State your message as one plain, complete sentence, such as “PF Flyers will make you run faster.” You are allowed to have other messages in your ad, but they will be a supporting cast. You should only have one main character. It creates a picture that is easy to understand quickly.

Supporting details
Back up the primary message with facts or claims, such as “PF Flyers are twice as light as the regular brand which are proven to help the long term health of your feet.” Be honest and don’t fib.

Creative approach
This is the fun part. It is also the most difficult. What visuals and headlines will work together to grab your audience by the lapels, knock them out of their chair and send a message that’s surprising, amusing, touching or stimulating? Showing PF Flyers make you better, you might show someone experiencing the opposite side of the coin—a sorry kid left behind by his inferior knockoff shoes that demonstrates what he has on will never compare. Or you might exaggerate the benefit with a kid that runs like the Flash when racing another kid. Embellishing the point with something unrealistic visually makes the concept easy to understand and sticks in the head of the viewer.

Decision Time
Make a decision on the dimensions and colors of your ad placement. Keep in mind that any ad smaller than a full-page will compete with everything else on the page.  Establish a visual hierarchy of information. And remember, space is your friend. Whatever the size, don’t cram too much in. It helps everything else do its job.

There are a lot of things to create here: brief, concept, headline, body copy, layout, initial proofs and the final file. Create a schedule by working backward from your deadline, allowing ample time at each step for review and feedback. A missed deadline can throw everything off. No matter what, have a smart person or two proofread it before it goes out the door. ONE typo or misspelling will haunt you til you die and no one will ever forget it.

Understanding Google Analytics: Not As Hard As You Think

For anyone involved in online marketing —and whether you realize it or not, if you are in business, you are involved in online marketing —it is very important to be familiar with Google Analytics. This free service provides a wealth of information, from how many visitors your site has to where they come from, how they find you, and at what point on your site they leave.

However, it is important to understand some of the terms used on the site and in the field of search engine optimization (SEO). Some of these terms are very easy to understand, while others are a bit more complicated. The following are some of the key terms you will need to know in order to understand what Google Analytics is trying to tell you about performance of your website.

Total visits. This is the big picture. This measures the total number of visits to your website on, for instance, your home page. If you are analyzing this metric, be sure to look at data for at least several months or even up to a year. Look for the “monthly trend”: You want to see this number increasing.

Sessions. This is a very broad term. It can tell you how many of your site’s visitors are new (unique visitors) and how many are back for another visit (recurring visitors). However, you can expand this metric to also tell you how many visitors found your site through organic traffic (for instance, using a search engine to find you) or via a social media site, and how many were directed to your site from a paid referral service. It also tells you how long visitors stay on your site.

Bounce rate. This term is a bit confusing, but very important. Say a visitor finds your site, takes a look at your home page, and then moves on without examining your site any further. This visitor has “bounced,” likely moving on to some other location on the web. It is important to keep your bounce rate as low as possible. You want your visitors to hang around and see what you have to offer. If you have a high bounce rate, Google Analytics can also tell you where visitors were on your site when they left, which can help you make changes to bring your bounce rate down.

Conversions. This is another very important term. For e-commerce businesses, this is a dollars and cents term. If someone visits your site and makes a purchase, bingo: Your website has converted this visitor into a customer. But even signing up for a newsletter, clicking to watch a product video, or filling out a contact form are examples of conversions. You want this number to continue to grow.

Geography. As you might expect, this tells you where most of your site visitors are located. This metric always offers a surprise or two.

Social media. Are visitors finding your site on LinkedIn? Facebook? Google+? Knowing this information can help you determine where you should put most of your marketing efforts—or where more efforts are needed. This has larger implications of what type of content you should be creating because this is directly related to qualifying. Factors like attention span, sophistication, age and the time of day you are posting all matters here. This is where you SEM and SEO campaigns begin to merge into a integrated strategy. Which we will explore later on.

While there are many other metrics to explore (including “customer value,” “cost per lead,” “lead to close,” “customer retention rate,” and others that are more specific to e-commerce sites), the bottom line is that Google Analytics can tell you how well your site is performing and, even more important, what the trends are causing success or failure. It is important to become familiar with the system and these different terms to make better decisions to improve your site’s performance for a greater return on your investment.

 If you have any questions, or a project you would like to work with me on. I have a wide range of expertise and skill in this field. Please contact me at


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