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Publisher's Outlook
August 2002

Nadji Tehrani The Art Of Positioning: It All Begins With Effective Advertising...But Then: 
Why 90 Percent Of Ad Dollars Are Wasted


Advertising professionals know that the heart of any campaign is the product and the position it holds in peoples minds, and what helps to position the product or service in the consumers mind is effective advertising. Now the proverbial $64,000 question is: Just exactly how many companies are using effective advertising? Would you believe less than 10 percent?

I have addressed the topic of advertising and marketing blunders several times in previous Publishers Outlooks. As a reference, I suggest you visit www.tmcnet.com/cis/0901/0901po.htm and www.tmcnet.com/ccs/0696/telpo.htm.

The Diagnostics Of Non-Performing Ads
The complexities of developing effective advertising are usually underestimated, which is, in my opinion, the number one cause of failure for most ads. Here is a checklist of some of the important factors that contribute to the development of superior or inferior advertisements:

1. Headline It is only common sense to believe that all ads must have a powerful, benefit-driven, highly creative and innovative headline that literally creates a major desire on the part of the reader to want to read the ad. Without a powerful, benefit-driven headline, the likelihood of reading the rest of the ad is very close to nil. It stands to reason that decision makers have very little time to waste trying to read every page or every ad without knowing what they will get out of the ad in advance.

2. Ad Copy After the headline, perhaps the next most important ingredient for a successful ad is the copy. Copywriting is a highly specific talent, which takes years to develop. Unfortunately, this is not very well understood and most small companies (particularly, those led by entrepreneurs) throw a few words together without knowing anything about the highly sophisticated and complex factors that go into making an ad readable or desirable to read. In this area, one must always remember the cardinal rule of direct marketing, which says, The first 10 words of copy in an advertisement are more important than the next 10,000 words!

One of the greatest problems with copywriters is that by nature they like to write wall-to-wall text in an ad. Long ago, that concept may have worked in direct marketing, but today it simply does not work. In todays business environment, each one of us is exposed to hundreds of ads per week and, therefore, unless the ad is truly unique, creative and innovative with a great deal to offer in a brief statement, then readers may pass over your ad rather than trying to read wall-to-wall text and waste their precious time.

3. Obscurity Many ads simply are the triumph of style over substance and not only are they not benefit driven, but they also do not tell the reader what it is that they are trying to sell. Such ads usually look good, but because they have nothing to offer, most people dont even bother reading them.

4. Creativity We have already established that every ad is competing with dozens and dozens of other ads for the attention of the reader. If your ad is truly spectacular and attention grabbing and would say in less than a few seconds what the reader will get from reading it, then that ad has a good chance.

5. Innovative And Outrageous Indeed, an ad that is highly innovative and outrageous will not only draw the attention of the readers but, also, it will remain in the mind of the reader for a long time.

One such ad appeared in a yacht magazine some 34 years ago. While most yacht manufacturers were using young ladies in bathing suits in their ads to promote their yachts, one company chose to use an extremely old lady, perhaps in excess of 100 years old, sitting on the yacht and saying, When you have the best yacht in the market sonny, you dont need sex to sell it. That ad has stayed with me for 34 years and it was successful because it was outrageous, innovative and it went against the grain. In other words, it uses contrarian philosophy. That is why it stands out some 34 years later. If you or your ad agency are developing an ad and you want it to be truly successful, this is the kind of philosophy you need to adhere to.

6. Lasting Impression A combination of the above-mentioned factors and very little copy often create a lasting impression.

Some 20 years ago, I saw an ad in Advertising Age that showed a photograph of an egg at the top of the page with a caption that read, How do you improve a perfect product? At the bottom of the same page, there was a photograph of another egg with a Good Housekeeping seal on it! Period, end of story. No other text, no wall-to-wall text and no superfluous material.

7. Graphics Plus Photos And Little Text, Or The Other Way Around Obviously, the example in #6 above clearly indicates that if you tastefully and judiciously select your photographs and graphics and use as little text as possible, you can develop an outstanding ad. This gives credibility to an old saying in advertising that says, White space also sells.

Effectively Positioning The Ad In Magazines
Most every advertiser requests the phrase, far forward right-hand page requested. In fact, there has been plenty of research that shows that a great ad will be read no matter where it is placed, whereas a bad ad will not draw any attention no matter where it is placed. Extensive research shows that if an ad is placed adjacent to related editorial material, this positioning will favorably affect the advertisements readership.

Size Of Ads Versus Readership
Extensive studies by numerous publications, including TMCs independent research by Harvey Research and others, clearly indicates that the size of the ad definitely matters when it comes to readership and making an impression on the readers. For example, such research has clearly indicated that a two-page spread advertisement will draw 42 percent more readers than a full-page advertisement.

Advertising Frequency
Another major area many advertisers seem to ignore (particularly in this economy) is that an advertiser may come up with a small budget and place an ad in a magazine a couple of times. Inevitably they then wonder why they didnt get any results. Assuming they followed all of the above guidelines (but the chances are they didnt follow any of them), an advertisement must appear a minimum of 12 times in order to: a) position the companys product in the mind of the buyer, and b) take advantage of the fact that continuous advertising makes the buyer comfortable doing business with the advertiser. Sustained advertising helps to instill the feeling that the company advertising is substantial enough to still be around in a few years when the buyer may need repairs or service of some kind for their hardware or software whereas, if the ad appears just a couple of times, it has just the opposite effect.

I am reminded of a true story in which a manufacturer offered a CTO on a complimentary basis a piece of equipment valued at six figures and the CTO turned it down because he felt that the company might not be around to service it when it was needed simply due to the fact that the manufacturer did not advertise on a regular basis in any trade publications.

Color Of The Ads
Selecting the proper color for an advertisement is one of the most crucial elements that will contribute to the success or failure of the advertisement. In my humble opinion, which is based on a lifetime of experience in advertising, even if you follow all of the above-mentioned guidelines but you use the wrong colors, the effectiveness of the ad will go down drastically. In a very simplified way, here are a few guidelines for effective color selection:

A. The most effective headline color is red or a warm red.

B. The second most effective headline color is bright orange as long as the quality of color is controlled via a PMS-type ink as opposed to four-color process match. On the other hand, one must never use red, bright orange or warm red for small type (eight-point or lower) for text that runs more than two inches wide and several successive lines. In plain English, avoid using these colors in small print because if you are using them to emphasize something, it will be counterproductive and will have a negative effect because it is extremely difficult to read anything written in red in small print.

In general, black should be used in all small print and the majority of the text because it is the most legible in any size. The colors to avoid in general are grays, dark grays, dark greens and browns of any kind. As a secondary color, blues, greens or magentas are recommended but rarely as the primary color for text.

Yellow is by far the most powerful color when it is used as a screen behind black or red or other colors provided the density or intensity is kept to a very low level. Indeed, much research has been conducted to show that the use of yellow as a background color increases readability by better than 44 percent. Having said that, one must never try to use yellow as a headline color unless some very dark circumstances are used around it or in the background to make the yellow stand out. In ordinary printing, yellow must never be used as a headline, text, subhead or anything else. In some cases, yellow could be used provided a black outline is around the yellow to help legibility.

Hopefully, you can see how important the role of color selection is in your advertisement.

A Good Case In Point
A few years ago, our vice president of Advertising Sales and I attended a convention where an advertiser came up to us and said, I dont know what we have to do to make our advertisement pay. I looked at their ad and asked him, What are you trying to do with this ad? He said, We want to sell predictive dialers, but we are getting no response and Id like to know why. Upon examination, I noticed that in no place did  the ad explain what product the manufacturer was trying to sell. Then I asked the advertiser, Where does it say what you are trying to sell in this ad? He looked at the ad and said, I guess we screwed up. I told him, Every ad must have a powerful, benefit-driven headline, but your ad has no headline! Then I continued, There is no discussion of benefit anywhere in this ad that would prompt a reader to call you and ask for information. Last but not least, the ad had two other problems: a) it had too much copy that didnt say anything, and b) it used a repellent color, i.e., dark green, and a pastel shade of green. In other words, the advertiser had a lousy ad and was wondering why it was not producing any results. As the old saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. Perhaps the biggest crime in the case of lousy ads is that 99.9 percent of the time, the advertisers blame the media vehicle although a useless ad will never produce no matter where you place it.

Four-Color Versus Black-And-White Performance
According to a Cahners advertising report, four-color ads are noted by 45 percent of the readers versus 33 percent for black-and-white ads. In short, advertising readership increases with the size of ad and the use of color.

The Role of Advertising Agencies
As you have noticed in this editorial about the complexities of developing a high-quality, effective ad, it becomes clear that often, if not always, the best solution is to outsource to advertising agencies whose core competency is developing advertising campaigns. The agencies know copy, positioning, placement, art and graphics, the needs of the clients and can also find appropriate publications in which advertising could get maximum return on investment.

Having said all of the above, it must be clearly pointed out that an ad agency alone cannot develop high-quality advertising without proper input from the client. Such input must be extremely specific while clarifying whom the target audience is and provide the advantages the products and services offer vis--vis the competition. Once again, we must always remember that if we do not provide proper and complete information to the advertising agencies, then we should not expect a high-quality advertisement.

What I have written here is only about five percent of what you need to know in order to develop a successful ad campaign.

Hopefully, I have been able to shed some light on the fact that effective advertising takes a great deal of effort and that a great deal of detail must go into developing an ad that will be remembered and will produce brand recognition and quality sales leads for the advertiser. Above all, the best advice I have for you is please do not look for short cuts because there are no short cuts in developing quality advertising. If you are not qualified to develop an ad, seek the professional services of a reputable advertising agency.

As always, I welcome your comments.


Nadji Tehrani
TMC Chairman, CEO and
Executive Group Publisher

[ Return To August 2002 Table Of Contents ]

Thank You For Your Comments!

Sometimes world events eclipse the day-to-day cares of our lives, demanding our attention. Such was the case when I wrote my editorial for the June 2002 issue, Whats Happening In The World Today? Being passionate about this great country, I felt I had to speak out, even though the content of this editorial went beyond the usual scope of this magazine. Add to this the fact that for more than 20 years this publication has been a leader in the industry, and it became a mandate to cover this topic, for although the topic of the state of the world may seem a far cry from the call center/CRM industry, it does impact our daily lives and our businesses. I was extremely humbled at the responses I received, some of which are reprinted below. One of the cornerstones on which this country was built, one of its great liberties, is free speech our ability to express our ideals in free and open discourse. I appreciate your responses, both positive and negative, and invite further commentary from you.

Nadji Tehrani

Sir, the only thing I see wrong with your editorial is that its not printed in the New York Times or Time magazine or some publication with a widespread demographic.
Kudos! Excellent! Hear, hear!
- Bob Fately

I read your article titled Whats Happening In The World Today? Can Anyone Do Something Good For Humanity? I enjoyed it very much.

While I was reading it, I realized that I, myself, helped make the world just a little bit better today.

After walking out of the local Super Wal*Mart store with my super-sized 13-year-old son during a torrential downpour, we stopped and helped two strangers to their car, a mother and her young daughter, both of whom were without umbrellas. They were quite pleasantly surprised by our invitation and seemed to be quite satisfied that someone stopped to care for their needs.

I usually dont do this type of thing, but after reading your article, I will make sure that I continue to do similar actions. It just seems to make a little bit of difference.

I thought that you would want to know.
- Tom Schulte

I wholeheartedly agree with your statements in your June editorial.

Thank you,
Bob Laubach

Please remove my firm, TheMaximGroup, from your mailing list in that it is no longer appropriate for even the lobby.

If, as Executive Publisher, you believe this publication is a suitable vehicle for your political diatribes, CIS has surely lost its way.

Dr. Ronald Ternosky

Thanks for your comments in the Publishers Outlook column. You put into words what I have been thinking about a lot lately. It is like the world is going to Hell. Your comments are sincerely appreciated.

Jack Huber

Your entertaining editorial makes it worth reading Customer [email protected] Solutions magazine. I think you go a little overboard on some of your points, though, especially about the UN. For better or worse, we need the UN to be a forum for countries to air their concerns and as a conduit for important immunization, art, cultural and other programs. Sure, peacekeeping is weak and the refugee agency has cultivated terrorist in Jenin, but this points to revamping the organization, not ditching it.

Also, I disagree with your statement that, most Palestinians and Israelis want peace, but they are saddled with stubborn leaders. The Israelis, as you point out, have tried to negotiate and even offered to give up the entire candy store when Barak was the PM, but that was even insufficient for the Palestinians. So, the Israelis have always wanted peace, beginning with the very first and difficult decision to accept the Partition of Palestine in 1948, which the Arabs refused. I have enclosed a poll on how supposedly most of the Palestinians support peace.
Keep up the interesting editorials.

Paul B. Rosenthal

I was pleasantly surprised to find such a politically stimulating article in a technical journal. Usually, I only read the magazine when the index reflects a new product or service that appeals to me. I shall have to pay closer attention to future issues for these little extras.

Thank you,
Christopher J. Evaskis

[ Return To August 2002 Table Of Contents ]

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