3 Kinds of Advertising to Avoid

It was time for the old advertisement to be freshened up to feature the new promotion, so he held out a copy of the old ad as the example to be copied.  Although Michael loved his ad, I could see that he wasn’t aware of the cardinal sins of advertising.  This ad was a great example of one of the 3 kinds of advertising to avoid.  What 3 kinds of popular advertising should small business owners avoid like the plague?

Pretty Advertising

Pretty advertising is an ad style that many businesses get caught up in when they aren’t in the habit of consistently tracking responses from their advertisements.  The result is an ad that looks pretty, but isn’t memorable and just won’t move many people to action.  The chief goal of most business advertising is to deliver a message in such a way that the audience is motivated to take action on the message.  Look at an ad for just 1 second and then answer the question – Do I want to read the whole ad?  In reality, the decision on whether or not to read an ad is made in about 1/20th of a second.  Grabby headlines and catchy copy will win against pretty any day.

Affected Copy

Affected advertising copy is a style of ad writing that sounds like it was written by a college sophomore majoring in English literature.  It’s as if this college student was writing the ad with the goal of producing a very big impact on the reader.  To achieve this goal, extravagant phrases are used to make an impact by force, rather than words designed to stimulate real thought or feeling.  Here is an example of affected copy taken from an actual jeweler’s advertisement for star sapphires:

“Star Sapphire… It is like a cup of night blue, dazed with moonlight and soft shadows, and it bears a promise of the sky.  For in its depths stir the six arcs of a veiled silver star… eager to fling their beauty to the night.”

Bad. Bad. Bad. – Don’t do that.  If your ads read this way you need to measure and test your advertising response.

Unbelievable Copy

Advertising copy that strains the credulity of intelligent readers is simply not effective today.  This kind of advertising is reminiscent of the “cure-all” patent medicine advertisements of yesteryear.  Most of the advertisers who rely on exaggerated and/or unbelievable claims are relegated to selling their wares via late night infomercials or spam emails.  A good rule of thumb is to abide by the Better Business Bureau code of advertising.  Make sure that the claims that you use in your advertising are substantiated in the ad.  Doing this will build your trust and credibility with your audience.

Lessons Learned

Michael’s old ad was a pretty ad.  It had been produced by a professional graphics artist and it looked nice, but it wasn’t getting results. When Michael’s new ad ran, it was very different than anything he had run before.  The new ad was built around a grabby headline and ad copy that made the reader want to read the whole ad and then go to his store to buy his new product.  The results were incredible – there were a lot more sales than before and Michael swore he would never again go back to pretty advertising.

Avoid these three types of bad advertising and you’ll be way ahead of the competition.

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