Everyone wants their advertising to work for them. But, do we ever stop to understand what advertising or marketing really is and what we should expect from it?

I’m sure you’ve heard that traditional media is over (are we sure about that? you are reading a printed page after all) because digital avenues like Facebook, Google, content marketing etc. are much more trackable. Naturally it follows then that advertising is easy—simply pick your digital medium of choice, make an ad, set a target and off you go.

Of course, it’s not so simple.

Every Ad is a Salesman
The key principal (and the most overlooked one) is that every ad is a salesman. That means each ad should be measured for results, regardless of medium. Every ad, whether traditional or digital, should be prepared with a goal to convert prospects to customers. Every ad should produce sales, not “brand impressions,” not “getting our name out there,”—but sales.

But how do you get the most out of these little salesmen? The approach to an ad should be the same as a salesperson perfecting their pitch. It’s one-on-one communication, and it should all be focused on your prospective customers’ needs and not your own.

I know with absolute certainty that advertising works—when done properly. Sales conversion in advertising is not something that can be easily solved through placement and targeting.

Experience Matters
The first thing to do is select a firm to help your business that is led by people with a proven sales record. No one should be responsible for crafting an ad or marketing strategy that doesn’t have serious sales experience.

One of the founding fathers of modern marketing, Claude Hopkins, once said of your ad copy, “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.” Having a good firm working with you that understands the sales process is a good first step. Work to craft a message that has a hook, handles objections and puts your prospect first.

Recently we helped a client with their new product launch. While their current firm was doing good “creative” ads, they were not happy with the sales results. They decided to go with Rockit for a new product launch campaign.

We worked with them to determine who their potential customer was and what would matter to them. We took all their existing marketing collateral and rewrote the copy to function more as a salesman and less as a “creative.” We handled everything from product photography to landing pages. The campaign was a huge success—even though they spent the same amount of money as in past campaigns, the difference was they had experienced salesman handling the content. They saw conversion rates in excess of 50 percent and sales results they’ve never seen before.

Selling is Selfless

The statement above may seen ironic, but bear with me.

Too often we see both digital and traditional advertising that is more about the person who wrote or designed the ad and not so much about what the customer really wants. There are too many “creatives” in our industry who believe they are there to create content that delights themselves and impresses their friends.

Make no mistake, the best marketing and advertising people are the ones who started their career in sales first. Advertising—when done correctly—still works, because selling still works. And real selling isn’t just being “salesy” but being selfless. In advertising (and selling in general) you will win when you appeal to the selfish desires of your prospective customer while ignoring your own.