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Smith: When spending money on advertising, speak the customers language
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There seems to be no end to it. It seems to multiply faster than past copies of National Geographic. At every turn, we all see and hear it. Though we may try to tune it out, it stills makes its presence known subliminally.

What is it? It is advertising.

In an attempt to penetrate our buying psyche, advertisers keep up a constant barrage of messages. It is estimated that each of us sees and hears 3,000 advertisements per day.

The advertising arsenal includes weapons such as newspaper, radio, television, magazines, outdoor billboards and signs, direct mail, specialty advertising and the Internet.

Every business that spends any amount on advertising should believe that the message is effectively reaching the desired customers.

There is one way to make sure these goals are accomplished. Each advertisement should capture the attention of the potential buyer, have an element in the copy that is of interest to the consumer, show how the patron’s desires will be satisfied and inform the purchaser how to take action.

What is it about an advertisement that will grab the attention of a customer? Remember this part of the message is encountering not only direct competition, but other advertising as well.

Print advertising attracts attention through size, the use of color or black and white space, price points and overall design. Billboards are more effective with fewer words and contrasting colors. When seeing an orange and white billboard with a white swoosh and the words "Just do it," what brand comes to mind?

Radio attracts attention through sound. A person’s voice, music and sound effects or a combination of all three can be used. Using sight and sound, television draws attention to an advertisement. While these media allow for creativity, the challenge is to seize the customer’s mind in a very brief amount of time.

When designing advertising, it is a good idea to know what the buyer thinks is the most important part of the buying decision. Is it the physical product, the price, availability or another element? Highlight this part, so it will easily draw the interest of the consumer.

How can the product or service fulfill the desires of the client? It may offer "fast pain relief" or "take a licking and keep on ticking." Other features that work are dollar savings, guarantees, convenience, status symbol or variety.

Make the process of buying the product as easy and simple as possible. Remember, people enjoy convenience and instant gratification.

About the time that you can’t bear to see or hear your advertisement again is when the customer is beginning to take notice of it. Be patient.

J.C. Smith is a consultant for the Gainesville district office of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center, 770-531-5681. His column appears Tuesdays and at