Sell the first thing first

To make a sale, you often need a customer to take a series of steps.

They might need to: 1) Visit your showroom; 2) Take advantage of your free trial; 3) Sign up for your service. So which do you advertise?

The normal approach is to advertise the service and slap your free offer or location on the end of it. You end up with everything squeezed into one ad, but with each objective competing for space, each message is less effective. So what can we do?

Your ad is a weak selling opportunity

The key is realising that your ad (no matter how good) is a quite a weak selling opportunity. It will only capture a brief moment of attention from your reader (at best), so it only really makes sense for your ad to sell:

  • Something small and simple
  • The first step

This will usually be something low cost (or free) and low commitment (such as a call, visit, email, register). A small decision for the customer.

The job of your ad

Your ad may be a small window of opportunity, but it has the most important job to do – sell the first step.

As long as it’s entirely focused on this goal, it’s more than up to the task, and by selling the first step it can set up a bigger sales opportunity – one that’s more appropriate for making a bigger sale.

After the first step is taken

The first step should set up a better opportunity to sell, like a phone conversation, an email, face to face meeting, demonstration, info pack, guided tour, or delivering a small product or service to demonstrate the quality of what you do. This is where you can explain, demonstrate, and sell something more complex and higher cost (a bigger decision) far better than you can in a quarter page ad.

Back to our example…

In our example of: 1) showroom 2) free trial 3) paid service, trying to make a sale in the ad is difficult. Instead we give the ad the job of enticing the customer into the showroom.

Once you narrow the focus of the ad, things get interesting. We start building a strong case for visiting instead of just asking as an afterthought. If we start sketching we might come up with a bunch of ideas that make it easier for people to visit…

In other words…

  • You build a strong offer around the showroom visit
  • You design an ideal buying experience and advertise that
  • Your ad naturally becomes more customer-focused.

Real progress for the company beyond advertising

When this exercise leads to permanent features that attract more showroom visits (more selling opportunities) you make real progress in your sales and establish a lasting advertising advantage.