Advertising is perhaps the most misunderstood marketing tool of them all. Too many companies spend the bulk of their marketing budgets on ineffective advertising and then dare to say that advertising does not work. It is not the advertising that does not work. It is their advertising strategy.

An effective advertising campaign starts with goals in mind. What are you trying to accomplish with your ads, and how does it fit into your overall marketing strategy? These are the questions that must be asked before you start.

There are a lot of advertising strategies to choose from. My favorite is what I would describe as a “call-to-action” strategy. This strategy is based on developing an ad or series of ads that solicit the viewer to respond. Not to buy, that is direct response advertising, but to just take some action. A good example of this is Sharp Electronics and their Aquos television campaign. The strategy for the ads was to get you to the website. Once you were at the website there was a strategy there too. (Nice integrated marketing) The web strategy was to get your name and demographic information by offering you a chance to register for a contest. I did not register for the contest. I wish I did, so I could have experienced the rest of their excellent campaign. The web address they promoted was You may remember it. There was a big campaign during the 2005 MLB playoffs and World Series. The contest is over, and the site now promotes a new, nicely integrated campaign named “nothing is lost.” I am surprised however that they missed a branding opportunity by not having the URL Maybe someone was holding them hostage for too much money for the URL.

Are you advertising your business?
Advertising can be a very effect sales too when used properly. Your advertising strategy must somewhere intersect with your sales strategy. Some ads try to sell directly from the ad. In years past, many ads included an order form for you to mail in with a check. Some companies still use this strategy, but rarely is it the only strategy for the ad in this day and age. Today there are a lot of other beneficial actions that can take place. Driving traffic to a website (as described above) is another great strategy, and so is getting the phone to ring. A lot of advertising tries to get you to call a phone number to order, request more info, or schedule the next step. The most common form of advertising you will see however, is branding. This is the most effective strategy for promoting retail products and products that are sold in stores or through distribution channels. This is fine if you have distribution and do not sell your product or service directly to the end user, but if you are responsible for sales to the final buyer, you better not be wasting your money on branding advertising.

So do you have a good ad strategy. How's your website? All good ads should include a web address. But exactly what address should you promote? Do you have multiple web addresses? You should.

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