Creativity vs. Proven Sales-Boosting Techniques

“There is just one justification for advertising: Sales! Sales! Sales!” – John W. Blake

Sometimes I wish I had gone into advertising instead of direct-response marketing.

I can see myself nestled in a posh Madison Avenue corner office, pulling in six figures a year … creating taco-eating Chihuahuas and other madcap characters … faithfully worshipped as an “advertising genius.” And, the best part – knowing nobody will ever question whether or not my creative, entertaining, and image-based ads actually work.

Fortunately, I didn’t take that route … and neither should you. Instead, I wound up in direct-response marketing – where every order and every penny generated by every ad, direct-mail package, and Internet campaign that I create is carefully tracked. Within a few weeks, days, or – in the case of TV and Internet promotions – a few hours, everybody knows whether I’m a genius or a hack. If my client puts $500,000 in the mail, he expects at least $500,000 in net sales back – PLUS 10,000 or so new customers. If my copy does that for him, I’m golden. If not, I’m a schmuck.

But most of the ad campaigns created by ad agencies are NOT measurable. Plus, millions of small- and medium-sized businesses trust their ad messaging to the account executives who sell them their local TV and radio time and print space. As a rule, these salespeople know very little about salesmanship and next to nothing about advertising.

And these two simple facts are now creating some of the worst ads ever produced.

Don’t get fooled into following their lead. Your prime directive is quite simple: You should demand that every dollar you spend on advertising produces a measurable, trackable, positive return on your investment. Giants like John E. Powers … John E. Kennedy … Albert Lasker … Claude Hopkins … John Caples … Rosser Reeves … David Ogilvy and others taught us that the ONLY reason to advertise is to increase sales and market share. And they taught us that, to accomplish its mission, every ad must … at the very least … accomplish these four essential goals:

1. It must create or intensify your prospect’s desire for the type of product you’re selling by presenting the benefits it will bring to his or her life.

2. It must convince your prospect that because the key benefits of your product are unique (and therefore superior to all other competing products), that makes it his only rational choice.

3. It must leave your prospect feeling that it is urgent for him to buy your product as soon as possible.

4. It must compel your prospect to action by providing a way for him to purchase your product immediately or at the very earliest opportunity.

I am absolutely convinced that if every advertiser insisted that his ads did these four things, the U.S. economy would double virtually overnight – and it would do so without enlisting the services of a single taco-chewing Chihuahua. Meanwhile, although the dumbest ads seem to grow dumber by the day, many advertisers are actually helping to offset this cumulative drop in America’s advertising IQ.

Recognizing the importance of accountability, they’re using their creativity to find ways to scientifically measure the response to their ads. They are asking consumers to call a toll-free number or visit a website – or they’re adding some other tracking device to their advertising (like coupons, contests, etc.). Don’t let any ad executive or media rep tell you that your product or service is different … and that creating measurable, trackable advertising campaigns just isn’t possible for the kind of thing you’re selling. That’s just an excuse.

Here’s a prime example: Prescription drugs have to be the world’s hardest products to track. A consumer sees the ad for a new anti-allergy pill and is told to ask his doctor about it. The doctor then has to prescribe the drug. The consumer then has the prescription filled. How in the heck do you track that? Is it impossible? Not when real creativity is applied. For years, drug companies advertised their drugs simply by telling consumers to ask their doctors about them. But today, they’re asking consumers to dial a toll-free number receive a full information kit on the condition the drug treats, including money-saving coupons and even trial doses. Instant accountability!

Moral of the story: Accountability counts. Sure, life is easier when you don’t have to own up to your mistakes. But that’s a treacherous path that invariably leads to talking Chihuahuas and billions of wasted advertising dollars each year.

(Ed. Note: Clayton Makepeace offers help in reaping maximum profits through the Internet, direct mail, and print advertising every week in his free e-zine, The Total Package. Learn 177 of his surprising secrets that have doubled his clients’ profits in a year and quadrupled them in 36 months in his newly published e-book “Double Your Profits in 12 Months or Less!”)