I talk to many business owners during the course of my days and I have met many that insist on leaving an offer out of their advertising. These are usually the same businesses that consistently use cliche’s in their ads like “great customer service”, “low prices”, “experienced”, etc…and too many words similar to a laundry list. No wonder they have no idea if their advertising is working or not. So really how important is an offer in advertising?

I believe and teach a basic philosophy when putting a client’s ads together. 10% of the ad should focus on a specific theme or “branding”…”40Th anniversary sale”. 15% of the ad should be focused on creating urgency…”ends December 31″ AND 75% should focus on the offer…”75% off”. Yes 75% of the ad. This will allow the consumer to make a decision once they are exposed to the ad. Are you in or not?

Early in my career in radio advertising I had a meeting with an electronics store. They sold TVs, appliances, etc. The first thing this guy threw at me was “radio doesn’t work for my business”. (It’s obvious I could tell this story using any medium…you will see it really doesn’t make a difference). I listened intently at the specific reasons for his objections and finally offered him the opportunity to hear my point of view. I told him that I believed radio could work for his business and if he would meet me again I would put together a commercial that would definitely work for his business…I would be writing the copy. He agreed. We set up another confirmed appointment days later.

Upon my arrival for the second meeting I immediately played the commercial for him. Almost instantly the owner declared “I can’t do that!!! People will be lined up outside my doors! I would go out of business!!!” That’s not exactly the reaction I was trying to get but nonetheless I had definitely overcome his objections to the radio with an offer…”buy any television and receive a FREE VCR…offer ends Sunday”. Pretty great deal that this particular business owner knew would motivate a consumer to come into his store. We eventually agreed upon a similar offer and began a prosperous relationship that has lasted over 12 years!

So when you are looking to get results that you can measure in a relatively short amount of time don’t forget that the offer, not the medium is the sole reason for the campaign’s success. It’s the offer that forces the consumer to act. If your element of urgency is part of the equation then it forces the consumer to act before the offer ends. If your branding isn’t a bunch of wordy cliche’s these consumers may even remember to come back.

What a concept!