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Advertising Words Matter

Originally published: 11.01.09 by Terry Tanker

Advertising Words Matter

E ffectively communicating what your company’s product or service has to offer is one of the most challenging aspects of business. Traditionally, under the strategic marketing communications umbrella, there have been four major areas: advertising, marketing, public relations, and promotion. However, you can’t ignore the new kid on the block — social media. Everything else falls into one of these categories.

In this column, I am concentrating on advertising, it’s equal measures of art, research, and science and it is the most difficult of the communication disciplines to execute successfully. This is in part because as consumers, we’re bombarded by mediocre messages that simply miss their mark, aka the shouting T.V. pitchman.

How many advertisements an individual is exposed to per day is debatable. After typing that question into my Google search bar, I reviewed several dozen pages of results. Depending on methodology, the answer fell somewhere between 247 and 3,000. After sifting through the information further, my best guess is that the average adult is exposed to 400 to 500 advertisements per day. Amazing isn’t it?

It’s not hard to see how all of these messages add up; after all, advertising mediums are everywhere, and many are so intertwined in our

daily life that we may not even be aware a message is being delivered to us. Obviously, most people are conscious of messages streaming from radio, television, the Internet, billboards, newspapers, magazines, and direct mail. But what about the less traditional forms, such as the logo on Phil Michelson’s hat, the tray tables on US Airway planes, or the advertising sponsorships behind the catcher in the World Series. . . Oh, you’ll be looking for those now won’t you?

So are consumers overexposed? Probably. It’s no wonder some turn off and tune out. Most of us however, simply let messages blend in and aren’t conscious of all of them being sent unless they are relevant right then or — more importantly —unique enough and executed well enough to warrant our attention.

We are all consumers of advertising, and that also makes us experts at evaluating the ads we see, even if most of us can’t explain exactly why we like or dislike an ad. Great images and great words that play together make great advertisements. The very best are simple and convey more than the sum of the parts.

One of the most famous ads of all time just happens to be an ad about advertising. The McGraw-Hill publishing company created the ad, which shows a rather gruff character sitting in a chair with his hands folded. There is no headline, which is unusual. Here is the copy:

I don’t know who you are.

I don’t know your company.

I don’t know your company’s product.

I don’t know what your company stands for.

I don’t know your company’s customers.

don’t know your company’s record.

I don’t know your company’s reputation. Now — what was it you wanted to sell me?

Moral: Sales start before your salesman calls — with business publication advertising.

In this example, the words perfectly compliment the graphic. As you try to connect with your customers, realize that the words you choose matter. There are words that are persuasive, for example — announcing, introducing, challenge, compare and suddenly. And those that grab the attention of readers or listeners who are concerned with quality — such as authentic, superior, rugged, fine, valuable, unsurpassed and unique. Putting the right words together and in the proper context will help you connect with customers.

What words should you be using to connect with hvacr consumers today? Energy efficiency, savings, comfort, trouble free, service, dependable, easy, immediate, lifetime, quality, professional, certified, durable, endorsed, recommended, guaranteed, tested, accepted, approved and many more.

For years I’ve used the book How to Make Your Advertising Make Money. It was written by John Caples, Vice President at the advertising agency Batten, Barton, Durnstine & Osborn Inc. John won countless awards writing advertising copy for such companies as General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Navy, and many others.

I highly recommend reading this book. Inside you will find 303 Words and Phrases that Sell, How to Use Stories to Sell, How to Write Sales Letters that Make Money, and much more. It’s simply a great reference, and one that will pay back handsomely if you use it.

Terry has more than 25 years of experience in the advertising and publishing industries. He began his career with a business-to-business advertising agency. Prior to forming Hutchinson Tanker Ltd. and HVACR Business in January 2006, he spent 20 years with a large national publishing and media firm where he was the publisher of several titles in the mechanical systems marketplace.

In addition to his experience in advertising and publishing, Terry has worked closely with numerous industry-related associations over the years including AHRI, AMCA and ABMA. He currently serves on the board of N.A.T.E  (North American Technicians Excellence Association). He has also served on the Board of Directors for the American Boiler Manufactures Association (ABMA) and as chairman for both the Associates Committee and the Marketing Communications Committee.


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