Four Steps to the Perfect Ad (Part 3)

In our first two steps, we discussed how important it is to nail down the purpose of your advertising and then to understand who you are advertising to.  Think of these previous two steps as the information gathering for your ad… the prep work, if you will.

Step Three:  Crafting Your Message

Now it’s time to actually craft your advertisement.  Of course, when I speak of your “advertisement” I am referring to the message you might put on a search engine like a Google pay-per-click ad, or a classified-type ad you might run on Craigslist.  It could even be the message you use in an online display ad.

But I’m also talking about the message your visitor sees on the “landing page” of your website.  In fact, it is important that your advertisement matches the message on your landing page if you want to maximize your results. The closer your ad message is to your landing page’s message, the higher your conversion rate will be.  If your customer clicks on your ad, and then comes to a page that is so different that it gives them whiplash, don’t be surprised when they leave your site without registering.

All that being said, there are only three things your message must accomplish: 1) state what’s in it for your customer;  2) offer a simple exchange of value; and  3) give your visitor a choice of two yeses.  If you limit yourself to these three fundamentals, your advertising will be very effective, and your results will be much better than you have likely experienced before.  So, let’s look at each of these in more detail.

State what’s in it for them.  There is an old adage in sales: Telling ain’t selling.  Most people focus on features when they should be focusing on benefits.  “Features” is all about your product or service.  “Benefits”, on the other hand, is all about your customer.  Your ad should make an appeal to the customer’s needs or wants so use benefits in writing your ad.

For example, having studied customer preferences when using a real estate website, we know that real estate shoppers are looking for one primary thing: a good home search.  So we’ve crafted our message to say, “Use the most powerful home search in the Fayetteville, NC area!”  The customer wants a home search so we focus our message on providing the most powerful home search in our market.  Simple.

In other words, the ad is customer-centric.  We’ve also discovered that the more specific we can be, the better the results.  We tested, “Use the most powerful home search available!” and “Use the most powerful home search in North Carolina!”  We learned through testing that the more specific to the needs and desires of our customer, the better the ad works.

Our customers don’t care that much about home searches in general, nor about North Carolina home searches.  Why?  Because they are not moving just anywhere, nor are they moving to North Carolina in general.  They are moving to Fayetteville, North Carolina, and so the ad that focuses on their specific need wins the day.

Make a simple exchange of value.  I’ve heard countless “experts” and website designers tell agents not to put registration forms on their websites.  They say, “If you require your visitors to complete a registration form, most will leave your website.”  And, that is partially true.  Many will leave your website, but what good were those anonymous visitors to you anyway?

On the other hand, many will also register if you present them with a simple exchange of value.  What do I mean by an exchange of value?  You offer them something of value in exchange for something of value in return.  And it works.  Why?  The principle of reciprocity.  I’ll explain.

Most people understand the idea that you get what you pay for…that there is no free lunch, so to speak.  People expect to pay for anything of value.  Make it free and they will stay away in droves.  Make it a fair exchange, and they will take your offer.  It really is that simple.

On our LCM gateway website, the exchange of value is very simple: “Register only once and use it forever!”  Exchange of value.  They give us something of value: their registration.  And in exchange we give them something of value in return. They get to use of the most powerful home search in the Fayetteville, NC area forever.

Keep your message clear and concise.  Ours is seven words long.  When presented the way we did, it seems like a real bargain.  And it is a real bargain.  But getting them to see it as a bargain is what is important.  When you craft your appeal, focus on presenting a very clear exchange of value.

Give them a choice of two yeses.  This is a principle that is often overlooked.  What do I mean by a choice of two yeses?  Instead of offering them a choice between a “yes” and a “no” decision, give them a choice between a “yes” decision and another “yes” decision.  Giving the customer a choice is important because it makes them comfortable because they are in control.

You’ve probably seen this principle in action thousands of times and didn’t even recognize it.  Here are some common uses of a choice between two yeses:  “Would you like to pay cash or would credit card be more convenient?”  “Would you like this delivered or would you prefer to take it home yourself?”  “Do you want just the suit or would you like the tie as well?”  All are uses of a choice between two yeses.

Here is how powerful this principle is:  When I added a choice between two yeses to my LCM gateway, my conversion rate doubled!  Before, they’d chosen between a “yes” (to register) and a “no” (to not register and leave my website).  Many of them chose the “yes”, but many others chose the “no”.

When I added two “yes” choices (and zero “no” options), my site conversion doubled.  Here are the choices I offer them now: “Yes” (use the search with the help of an agent) or “yes” (use the search without any help).  Of course, there is still the unmentioned choice of “no” (leaving my website without registering), but since I’ve added the second “yes” option, many more of them choose a “yes” option.  Here is another example:

Early in my practice, I was on a listing appointment and I offered a seller the choice between a “yes” and a “no’.  Listing with me or not listing with me.  Although I’d never been turned down up until then, this seller politely told me, “No thanks.”  I was stunned.  Mortified.  I went back to my office in a daze.  How had I missed this listing?  I never missed a listing!

Then it struck me:  I’d offered the seller a choice between a “yes” and a “no’.  I changed my listing presentation that very day.  Never again did I offer a choice between “yes” and “no’.  Instead, I offered them a choice of using my approach (the Traffic approach) or the traditional approach (the Price approach), both yeses.  And from that point forward every single seller chose one or the other.

What’s next?  In the next and final step, we will discuss how you can track and monitor your results so that you can actually know whether you are wasting marketing dollars on an ad.  As agents, our single largest expenditure is marketing and by tracking your results, you will likely be able to cut your marketing budget in half while producing better results than you’ve ever produced.  You definitely won’t want to miss it!

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