Do you ever find yourself in need of an ad that you must have right away? How many of you just use your business card as an ad? Have you ever looked at your business card? Is there anything on it that tells people what you want them to do? What do you need to do to create a memorable advertisement? An ad without a “call to action,” isn’t an ad. That’s the problem with using your business card as an ad. It isn’t memorable and it doesn’t instruct the viewer what to do next.

It happens quite often that a business has an opportunity to submit an ad, whether it’s because of a sponsorship of an event or a sports team, or because of the owner’s association with an organization. Many small business owners don’t have an affiliation with an advertising agency or marketing agency. What do you do in that situation when you need an ad? A business owner who tries to create an ad for him or herself is no better than the homeowner who thinks they can install an air conditioning system themselves.

Creating an ad isn’t quite as messy as fixing a do-it-yourselfer’s mistakes, but the repercussions of doing it wrong could cost you money if you paid for a sponsorship. Fortunately, you have a few things going for you. First, nobody knows your business better than you, second it’s always easy to talk about yourself, and third, with a couple of instructions you can learn to create your own ad in as short amount of time. In addition, you don’t need to be a graphic artist but having a little of that talent will help.

The first rule in creating an ad is it must be memorable, and it needs to be eye catching. When a person pages through a magazine or an event program you have about a second to catch his or her eye and stop them in their tracks before they turn the page. Color is one way to catch a person’s attention; a great picture is another way to stop them from turning the page as well. To observe this, just pay attention to what you do when you page through a magazine in a waiting room. Try to see what catches your eye and take note of the kinds of things that do. As men, a pretty girl in a bathing suit will stop us every time, but it isn’t appropriate if your target audience is women.

That brings us to the next rule: know your audience. You should have a good idea of your target audience. Women are a good target audience for HVAC contractors because they make or influence 80% of the buying decisions when it comes to HVAC purchases. You need to focus on the talking points that are important to women. It might be comfort, safety, energy efficiency, or any other things important to women. You want to talk directly to them.

Rule number three: write your ad as if you are talking directly to a real person and be persuasive. Focus on their wants, desires, and needs. Make them understand that you can solve their problems. You can use humor in your ad, you can use a common sense approach, you can use repetition, and you can create a sense of urgency such as a limited time offer.

The fourth rule is: be sure to include all of your relevant contact information. It doesn’t do you any good if you get people excited about what you offer or do for them and then don’t provide the way for people to get in touch with you. Don’t forget to include an email address, phone numbers, fax numbers, a physical address, and your website URL as well. If you know what a QR code is and how to create one, include that in your ad. There are free QR code generators available online. Do a Google search for “qr code generator” to find one. Remember to give people choices on how to contact you. Most importantly, remember to tell them what you want them to do.

My final rule is you have to have a call to action. In other words, you have to tell the reader of the ad what to do next. Without a call to action, an ad might just be a piece of artwork. You must drive your prospect to action; tell them what to do next. “In order to receive this discount you must call in the next 48 hours and mention code twenty-three.” On the other hand, you might say, “Call today for a complimentary home evaluation.” You must say something that stirs the reader to action.

By using these five simple rules you can put together a reasonably good ad on your own. It’s easy enough to do and once you have an ad, ask your husband or your wife to read it for spelling or grammatical errors. After you have made any corrections, ask for an honest opinion of the ad. If nothing else, it will be better than submitting a copy of your business card.

My website contains links to all the marketing articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. If you want your marketing efforts pay big dividends, contact a marketing professional. I’m available to assist you in all of your marketing efforts. If you need a branding consultation, a complete strategic marketing plan, or help with marketing services, call or send an email to discuss your needs.

Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, and social media strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by helping HVAC dealers market themselves with less ($). Contact him at 260-338-4554, andy@fracicaenterprises.com or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc. website.