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Odds are that you or one of your key staff excels at sales; Few businesses survive long, no matter how great their product, pricing, or service, without at least one strong rainmaker on the roster.  If you could clone your Rainmaker several times — effectively doubling, tripling, or quadrupling your Rainmaking expertise — you’d probably be able to grow significantly.  The problem, however, is this can be costly and sometimes it’s just impractical.   Due to the specialization/experience required, training, the inevitable ramp-up phase, and the fact that many new hires don’t work out, sales is very difficult for most small businesses to expand and profitably grow to a meaningful scale.

Enter advertising, the tool that many businesses turn to increase revenue at a meaningful and profitable level.  Advertising, when done right, is simply Mass-Selling.  When it does the exact same things that a good Rainmaker does, advertising can actually ‘sell’ to thousands, if not tens of thousands, of prospective customers at once.

Many businesses that advertise (or used to) might argue that this is idealistic at best and wrong-headed at worst.  They’ve tried advertising and it doesn’t deliver (at least to the scale that they’d expected).  Having seen hundreds of small businesses experience significant growth through advertising, I’d argue that many of these unimpressed businesses simply don’t advertise the right way.  If they’d thought of their advertising as mass-salesmanship, and actually applied the principles of strong one-on-one selling, they could have experienced much different results…

Five Steps To Effective Mass-Selling:

  1. ENGAGE the end-customer. How many good salespeople spend a lot of time bragging about how good their products/services are before they’ve actively engaged the prospect by talking about the prospect’s problem or need?  Not many.   Yet that’s exactly what many ineffective ads do.  Mass-selling is about the customer, not the advertiser!
  2. Appeal to the prospect’s SELF-INTEREST: A RESULT. Could you sell anything without getting your prospect to clearly see (and feel) how your product/service delivers a tangible value?  Whether that value is a cost-savings, fun/entertainment, convenience, stress-relief, or peace-of-mind, good sellers ALWAYS help the prospect picture that benefit.  The best sellers help prospects see that value in emotional terms because emotional appeals are almost always the gateway to ‘yes.’  Yet the majority of ads simply assume that a factual product description appeals to the prospect’s self interest.  They don’t.  Consumers don’t care about the product.  They care about its promise!
  3. Be SIMPLE and PERSUASIVE. No seller in his/her right mind tells a prospect all the things that are fantastic about what’s being sold.  They focus on THE thing that is most important to the prospect and they go to great lengths to build a highly persuasive argument about this benefit.  Nevertheless, the majority of ads celebrate “low prices”, “great selection”, “service-second-to-none”, and “convenience” in their core message.  It’s tough enough to get a prospect to believe ONE thing, yet many businesses spew 3,4, or 5 things in the same ad. Great sellers and great advertising focus on the ONE thing that matters most!
  4. SOLVE a problem. How many consumers buy stuff because they like parting with their hard-earned money?  Not many.  Main Street consumers spend money to solve problems.  Great sellers go to extraordinary lengths to understand the problem and build their argument around that problem being solved.  Effective ads must do the same.  If an ad only does one thing well, it’s solving the problem and associating a unique solution with the advertiser.
  5. CLOSE! The single thing that distinguishes a great seller from everyone else in the business is the seller’s ability to close.  And by close, we don’t mean fast-talking trickery or high-pressure tactics designed to take advantage of a confused prospect.  A good closer patiently helps prospects understand the value and addresses their fears, misconceptions, and other preferences.  A good ad is no different.  If prospects generally have a known objection, it addresses them persuasively.  If prospects are more likely to act after a trial or test-drive, the effective ad actually paints a picture of that test drive or experience (it’s easier than you think).   And finally, when a good seller believes that the prospect is ready to say yes, he or she asks the prospect to make a decision.  A good ad does as well.  It tells the consumer (those who are interested at that moment), what to do next.  It doesn’t list a phone number or a website.  It asks the consumer to take that next step.

There are a lot of other reasons that ads don’t sell.  The most common are: Clichés, hype & jargon that turn off ad-savvy consumers, excessive message and copy density, and a focus on ‘being creative’ (or funny) instead of selling.  To be honest, the reason that most businesses make these mistakes is that most other advertisers do it too.  The average small business is a proud enterprise.  They know why they’re great and they want to tell the world!

My simple advice is resist this temptation.  If you make your ads about your prospects instead of your business (what most of these points are really about), you’ll see dramatically different results.   Use these 5 points as a simple checklist the next time you advertise.  Turn your advertising into mass-salesmanship!