Traditional advertising is dying.
Billboards get ignored. TV watchers skip commercials with Tivo. The number of radio listeners is going down as people just listen on their iPod to their favorite songs. Newspaper and magazine circulation is declining.
You may think, well, I’ll just advertise on the web. But typical internet advertising is not working as well as it used to.
People are becoming more internet savvy. They are becoming more “blind to ads”. They’ve begun to realize what ads look like so they’re not clicking on them as much as before.
For example, big, flashy banner ads used to be effective at driving traffic a couple years ago, but now a lot less people click on them. These banners ads were replaced by text ads. Text ads get more clicks than banner ads, but as the internet knowledge and experience of online users increases, these ads will get less clicks.
This is already true with younger audiences, since they’ve grown up with the internet. I have a blog that targets the 14 to 30 year old crowd. I have text ads in a prominent location, but I usually only get one click per thousand pageviews.
All these things tell me that people are trying their best to avoid advertising. And technologies like Tivo, iPod, and the internet have made it much easier for them to do so.
So, what’s a small business owner to do? You need to get people’s attention to generate sales. I’ve written multiple times about the effectiveness of blogging to grab people’s attention. But what about advertising? Just give up on it?
No, I don’t think you have to do that. But in a world where advertising gets ignored, you have to do your advertising differently to get noticed. Here’s a simple principle to keep in mind.
Make Your Advertising Useful
Yesterday, I visited MapQuest to get driving directions. On their driving directions page, they had this section at the bottom of the page.
The picture and text highlighted in red caught my attention, because my car was having problems and I was afraid of being stranded during my upcoming out of town trip. I clicked the link and it took me to this useful, informative, interesting article.
By adding useful content to their ad, AutoZone was able to get my attention. However, if they just had the typical “great products and low prices” spiel, I would’ve ignored them.
I like what Brian Clark says:
The plain truth is, great content is the most effective way to advertise online, because to be considered great content, it canâ€™t look anything like what we consider advertising.
So, next time you buy advertising, ask yourself: “How can I add something useful to my ad?”
I’ve written before that offering expert advice on a business blog is a great way to promote your business. The same principle works for advertising. By adding useful content to your ads, not only will you capture the attention of your target audience, but you’ll also improve your brand.