No matter what kind of business you run, you need great ads to get great responses. Poor ads will get poor responses. No-one is immune, not even in birth work.
Unfortunately its not as simple enough as plonking any old ad on a popular medium “ its a multi-faceted approach. You need:
- To advertise in your direct target market
- To write a great, eye appealing responsive ad that gets people clicking, ringing, buying etc
- To have a great landing page to convert those interested people into customers
- To ABT. Always be testing. Testing your headlines, content, images “ everything. Little changes can make for big responses. Really!
It doesn't matter if you advertise in a widely read publication or a locally read publication “ if you don't get your target market right, you're wasting money. You need to advertise amongst potential buyers right now and in the near future if you want to see results “ there is just no point advertising doula services in a general publication like your local paper, by newsletter drop “ its going to be so hit and miss and have a much less ROI (return on investment), let alone waste your precious time. You need to target people who are ready to buy now, or soon.
So, assuming your target market is right, here are some things that make ads stink.
1. A Crappy Headline
You have seconds to capture attention before you've lost a potential customer “ your headline is THE big, attention grabbing guy that will make a customer stop what they are doing and want to find out more.
Learning how to write great headlines can make a HUGE difference to the response rate of your ads. You need to write headlines that can evoke emotion, a quick response, perhaps asks a question for them to consider and addresses their current situation. Just take a look at the success of the premature ejaculation ads that were all over the radio, on billboards and in the paper “ sure we may hate them but they worked. Men all over Australia were asking themselves, ‘am I lasting long enough?' Not a nice, warm and fuzzy example, but its a perfect example of what DOES work.
Another great way to learn about killer headlines is to take note of what attracts your attention “ in the supermarket, on TV, on the radio “ what makes you tune in, focus in or read more? How are they written? Trash mags are trashy, but you can learn a great deal from how they write their headlines. Its what makes them sell.
2. Talking About Yourself Too Much
You could be forgiven for thinking that its important to get across your experience and training, but thats not the first thing people are looking for. You have to convince them to read your ad first (see point 1).
As much as we'd like to think otherwise, everyone these days wants to know what's in it for them. And not just that, they want it quick and easy, cut up in little pieces and fed to them please (don't skimp on that silver platter either). Make it easy for them.
So what are the benefits? What are they getting out of it? Why should they pick you over everyone else? Load your ads up with features, benefits and why they should buy/hire from you and you'll get a much better response.
Remember: ‘Whats in it for me?'
3. Not Addressing Objections
Many people wont even bother to contact you if they haven't had their objections addressed “ they tend to keep going until they find someone who does, making them feel relaxed and at ease. If you don't address objections, they may think, ‘Hmmm that sounds good, but xxxx,' or, ‘Sounds okay, maybe I will call tomorrow.' (hint: they wont).
Especially with something like birth, they need to feel completely safe and comfortable with you. Make sure you address objections somewhere in your ads as well as your website. For example, some common objections for a doula might be, ‘But what about dad?' or ‘I don't know if I feel comfortable with a third person in the room?' They don't need to be in point form, you can interweave it in your writing or you can put a focus on objections that you find are a big problem for you. You get the idea “ but you should know all these if you understand your target market and their thinking (THEIRS not yours!). Doulas do have a very different insight into birth than most people “ don't mix them up!
4. You Dont Stand Out
What makes you stand out from the growing number of doulas in the market? Whats your USP (unique selling proposition?) To me, so many doula ads sound the same, and they use the same words which may not even be used by the mainstream consumer. If I could have a dollar for every doula ad or website that DOESNT have the word empower/empowering on it, I would be a very poor woman. Yawn. Zzzzz.
Its important for you to think about what your USP is and putting it into action. One client I worked with didn't know what hers was. From reading her website and talking to her, it was clear that her being a twin mother and being informed and educated about it, that was something she could focus on and promote. Not every doula (let alone in her surrounding area that she services) could say that they know what its like to be pregnant, give birth to and breastfeed twins. This can be very appealing to a woman pregnant with twins. Likewise there are doulas specialising in VBAC, homebirth and others. Your USP might have something to do with another offering/skill you bring to the woman.
We all know people who specialise in one thing or the other “ dig deep and find out what your little niche can be and focus on it. If you're worried you don't know enough, put lots of effort into reading all you can on it “ while you may not have attended hundreds of births, you can certainly become an extremely well informed doula on a particular topic “ and that will help you become more confident and look confident when dealing with those clients.
One last thing on this point that I will mention on standing out is that it is often the successful people “ the movers and shakers “ who offend others in their industry. Its a sad truth that often (no matter what industry you are in) if you don't conform or do as everyone else does, you're baaaaad. No you're not, you're being innovative, different, unique. Stuff what they think “ the same people complaining about how you're doing things are probably the same people complaining about not getting enough clients.
5. Not Removing The Risk
Are you removing the risk of someone hiring you? Customers don't want any nasty surprises “ can you blame them when we're bombarded with dodgy and incompetent tradespeople stories on current affairs shows? People fear being taken advantage of or having a bad experience, especially when spending so much money and for a most memorable event in their life.
This one scares many business owners “ but my thought is, if you're scared of not doing a great job, maybe you should do another job where you feel you can deliver a good service. If a guarantee doesn't drive you to want to do better in your job, or to be the best you can be, then Houston, we have a problem.
Usually removing risk comes in the form of guarantees, refunds etc. Removing the risk may have you in a place of fear of losing money, but if you are a birth worker who does a great job, you will probably get a great deal more customers rather than refunds, which will have you making more money, not less. If you think you'll have lots of refunds you need to have a serious think about what you need to be doing. Make sure you get feedback from as many customers as you can after they have finished using your services. A great, simple feedback sheet that works and gets to the point:
- What did I get right?
- What did I get wrong?
- How can I improve?
You may like to offer a guarantee after so much time has lapsed or even unconditionally “ its completely up to you. But a confident, no mess no fuss guarantee with no risk will quickly put any customer at ease. If you do get the odd refund request, its a great opportunity to ask them questions to find out what you didn't do well. Put it down to a learning experience and make sure you choose your clients well (thats for another article!).
My Top Tips For Great Ads
- Make an effort to get to learn how to write great headlines and ads.
- Make an effort to get to know your target market “ you need to know how they think and feel about birth.
- Address thoughts, fears, dreams and desires of your customer when writing ads.
- Talk to your customer when writing ads “ don't talk in the third person etc.
- Avoid the temptation to stuff your add with an overwhelming amount of information. It will confuse them and leave them not knowing where to look in your ad.
- Get to the point and make sure you make it very obvious what you want them to do next “ e.g. clearly mark your ads and website with ‘CALL NOW' or ‘VISIT xxx”
- Remember you are not your own customer. Read that again. You need to write what they want to hear, not what you think sounds good.
- Spend time every day working on ads. They will bring in more customers, faster.
- You are the best person to do your ads, because you know your business best and no-one will be as vested in it as you.