Why some ads just don’t ‘get a response’

Let me take you back to my first ‘real’ job out of college.

I graduated from college and I was doing everything I could to get a full time job.

This was back in 2007. Back then, you had Monster, CareerBuilder and classified ads in newspapers before Indeed wiped all those options out of everyone’s minds.

When I was 22, I basically emailed and mailed my resume everywhere I could. I cold-called people I didn’t know and my spiel was, ‘Hey… you don’t know me, but did you get my resume?’

Their response was usually… ‘Uhhhh… don’t worry… We got your resume. And we’ll definitely call you back.’

*Click* Never heard from them again.

Like everyone else who gets a job, I finally got a job through someone I knew. My first job right out of college was as a marketing coordinator for a small company.

At the time, they offered me $28,500 a year and I thought… ‘Alright. This is it. I finally made it to the big leagues’, which was the furthest thing from the truth.

My responsibilities were pretty much writing the monthly newsletter for the company, doing their graphic design (Making brochures ‘look pretty’ as the VP called it) and updating the company website.

Remember brochures? No, wait, forget brochures. Do you even remember websites back then?

This was back in 2007. Back then you had to write updates within HTML tags. You had to know all the tags and if you did anything out of order, it would throw off your entire website.

If you missed one little < or > all hell broke loose.

I wore a lot of hats at that job but I didn’t know that one of those hats would be selling ads directly to other businesses to help pay for the newsletter I was managing.

This job wasn’t one of those cold-call-all-day, smiling-while-dialing-for-dollars jobs that you see in The Wolf of Wall Street. That job would come later in my resume.

Even though my company had a small list of about 1,000 members, we sold them events, webinars, advertising and sponsorship opportunities mostly with direct mail and email marketing.

Much to my surprise at the time, I grew to love selling. We had a handful of customers who were regulars, and they were just awesome people to work with.

They got their artwork to me on-time. They were pleasant to talk with on the phone. They even paid on-time.

They were a dream.

And then there were those who weren’t a dream.

They weren’t an all-out nightmare to deal with, but for every few who ‘got it’ there were also a few who ‘didn’t get it’ at all.

The ones who ‘didn’t get it’ would ask me tire-kicking questions for weeks, and I would have to hand-hold them through the entire buying process.

And then they would complain to me that their ad didn’t get a response.

First of all, advertising is one thing. Direct response is another. So if you’re looking for a response, direct response is your best bet.

And you’re going to run an ad where you expect a response, for God’s sake, don’t write the same stuff everyone else is writing. Give them an actual real reason to visit your site other than some email promotion that’s ‘This Weekend Only!’

If you’re going to go the direct response route, you need to include an opportunity for customers to submit their information. Years ago, print ads used to do this by simply including an order form right below the ad that you could tear off and mail back.

Today, businesses drive customers to a landing page where they can submit their contact information in exchange for a free e-book, webinar presentation or video.

But do you think your average advertiser wants to spend time creating all that? No.

Rather than spending a little bit of time upfront, they would rather play the same game everyone else is playing, which is force their customers to call a salesperson to beat a sale out of them.

Which in this day and age is a dying process. No one wants to talk to a salesperson. Including me, who used to be a salesperson.

So if you want to measure an ad’s response, make sure you take the time to create something of real value to the customer and that it’s something that you can actually measure.

If you send them a lead magnet that enhances their life just a little bit, and they still want to buy from you, mark that down as a successful response.