If you work with me for a while, you’ll grow to learn that I have a favorite question, and that question is: “Why?” There are a couple of primary reasons for the power of why. First of all, I’m a curious person by nature (and there’s a big difference between curiosity and being nosy, but that’s a topic for another day). It’s my way of getting to know the real you, and build a greater bond, which leads to the second reason for asking why all the time. It allows you the opportunity to pause, think, and communicate more deeply with whoever your audience might be in that moment.

I’ve written pretty extensively about the power of why, and finding your why over the years, so I won’t belabor the point here. But suffice it to say that whatever you’re doing with your marketing, you must stop and ask that very important question before you act. Today, I’d like to talk about your advertising, and demonstrate the many “why’s” to explore when it comes to buying ads.

When I ask why you want to advertise, your initial response may sound something like: “I want to sell more stuff,” or “I want the phone to ring more.”

Great! That’s a start. And that’s also the point at which I channel my inner two-year-old and ask why. Why will people buy more stuff? Why will people have the urge to call you? Consider these potential why’s:

1. You want to begin building a relationship with your audience.

Your product or service is not a spur of the moment buying decision, and the audience needs to get to know you first. You’re in the courtship phase, dating for a while before the marriage proposal kicks in. What kind of advertising might be appropriate here?

  • Branding ads, highlighting your name, logo, website and some imagery that will make an emotional connection with your audience. The goal is to stay top of mind so they don’t forget you. This could be in the form of billboards, building signage, TV newsfeed crawl sponsorships, or even print ads in targeted publications.
  • Direct response ads, offering your audience a call to action to request a brochure, white paper, or perhaps a demonstration (via video or in person). These campaigns are designed to get someone to raise their hand and become a “maybe” in the sales funnel. You’ve got their information, so you can now actively court these folks in a way that brings value.
  • Digital campaigns allow you to be right there, online, when your audience is looking for you. In many cases, buyers go online first to research a product or service well before making the decision to buy, and from whom. They’re looking for someone to have a relationship with. Make sure they find you, whether it’s through a Google search, product reviews, social media conversations, informational videos, white papers or blog content.

2. You have a sale, special offer, or limited time promotion.

These types of opportunities are very time sensitive, and you want your audience to know about them and take advantage of them. Maybe it’s a year-end closeout sale or a new product not available elsewhere. People need to be inspired to act now, and the sense of urgency must be communicated. How can you do this? Perhaps the advertising venue could be:

  • Signage, banners, or on-site displays that will draw attention to the business and alert your audience that something is happening.
  • Broadcast advertising, including television and radio spots that will provide quick-hit announcements about your sale or promotion. Don’t go overboard here with the message. Work with your local advertising reps to create a campaign that will work with your budget that will allow for the greatest frequency possible with the shortest ads possible. In some cases, you can do quick five-second billboard spots or graphics at the end of a news segment.
  • Leverage your social media following. Consider giving them a sneak peek or advance opportunity to buy in exchange for sharing it with their friends. Send emails to your customer list, segmenting and targeting who receives it, and what message they get depending on their past buying habits. And most importantly, make sure people can find you online, and they have a good experience when they visit your website.

3. You want to catch the low-hanging fruit.

Someone always has a need to buy what you’re selling RIGHT NOW. Whether you’re selling burgers and chicken wings off a well-traveled interstate and want to grab the hungry road-trippers, appliances to the mom of four whose refrigerator just bit the dust, or even IT services to the office manager who realized the company server just crashed. These people all have an immediate need, and they’re ready to buy now. How can you capture them in this moment of need?

  • Chances are, that mom or office manager is going straight to the computer to find out who can help, what’s available, and how quickly the product or service can be delivered. Be sure to address that need for them, and be sure they find you. And when it comes to the traveler, well, those people are likely to pull out their smart phones and begin checking out what’s close by, reading reviews, and perusing menus. Be there, make it easy, and make it a mobile friendly experience.
  • These can be great for branding, and also great for driving people where you want them to go in that moment. Need a hotel for the night? There’s a billboard saying to exit 3 miles ahead.
  • It goes without saying, but if you’ve been building a relationship with your audience, giving them value without expecting anything in return, and remaining top of mind, when they do have an immediate need they’ll think of you first.

So when it comes to your advertising, start by asking why. Your why will lead you down the most appropriate path, create a more targeted message, and help you reach your audience where they are, when they need you.

Article written by

partner/marketing visionary/Don Henley worshipper