The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales. It is not for general effect. It is not to keep your name before the people. It is not primarily to aid other salesmen. Treat it as a salesman. Force it to justify itself. Compare it with other salesmen. Figure its cost and result. Accept no excuses which good salesmen do not make. Then you will not go far wrong. – Claude C. Hopkins, Scientific Advertising

There seems to be a mystique surrounding advertising.

We watch shows like Mad Men, look at speeches from people like Steve Jobs, and think that our business advertisements need to be these magical, jaw-dropping elements that strike a chord with our audience. They cry, they embrace our ads, and purchase us after making the ad go viral.

This rarely happens, and this mentality will have a detrimental impact on your online advertising campaigns.

When we’re doing an SEO or PPC strategy, one of the first checkup items I review is the actual ad media going out to customers. Generally, we’re looking for 3 core things:

  1. Does this advertisement speak to a very specific audience?
  2. Is it clear what the message of this advertisement is “at-a-glance?”
  3. Is the data showing that this ad is converting customers?

I’ve seen some great ads and I’ve also seen some really sub-par ones. Advertisements that made sense to the designers, but didn’t make sense to anyone who glanced at them. The data spoke for itself, but the designer’s ego often won at the end of the day.

Getting caught up in that “sexy” advertising and media realm lost a lot of businesses a lot of money.

This is why I included the quote at the beginning of the article. The core advertising concept I like to use is, “Treat it as a salesman. Force it to justify itself.”

Would you allow a salesmen to fallback on, “Well at least I generated local buzz for the brand”?

Would you allow a salesmen that worked for you to justify how many “eyeballs” had seen their proposal?

We avoid those conversations as business owners and advertisers, simply because it’s uncomfortable. It makes you focus on the tangible (how much did this campaign generate for us) instead of the intangible (we were viewed over 200,000 times).

This is why PPC and online advertising are great platforms. You can actively track the data of who is buying from you, what they’re buying, and how they found you. You can justify an advertisement simply by seeing if it’s creating the leads you’re looking for, instead of some arbitrary or empty metric like “how many eyeballs” viewed the content.