• Marina Catherine

Why your ads aren't working and what you can do about it.

Updated: Feb 24, 2020


So, you're putting an enormous amount of time and energy into your Facebook business page and getting heaps of likes on your ads, but they're not converting to sales. You can't understand why. You know you have a great product, and you know your Facebook page is visually pleasing: people like the pictures you post and occasionally comment on the witty sayings with which you've captioned them.

Someone told you to put a video on there, so you've done that too. The latest one is all about the sale you currently have on.... the sale you were forced to have because you're desperate to get customers to buy! Of course, you're not silly enough to tell customers the real reason. You've tried to phrase it differently. Maybe it's a 'new stock coming' sale or a 'moving business premises' sale.

That's good. But it's not enough.

There seems to be a misconception amongst some small business owners that all they have to do is find a great product, put together a website, do up a Facebook page and all of a sudden the products will be flying out the door and into homes. In most cases, it's simply not true. If your products are still sitting on the shelves or no one is asking for your services, it's time to take a closer look at exactly what your sales ad is or is not saying.

There are many variables to take into account but, to keep it simple, the main thrust of this article will be to highlight four common mistakes. With a bit of analysis, you can improve your sales pitch so you convert followers to buyers and gain new customers.

Mistake #1

Making your sales ads all about you and your business.

If I'm a consumer, I want your ad to be all about me. I want to know what your product can do for me.

I’ve come across so many advertisements where the first thing I am told is something about the business – how they started, why they're expanding, why the sale is on – with a weak call to action at the end. There is a place for all of that, but it's not in a sales advertisement. A sales advertisement should sell.


Put yourself in the consumer's shoes. They have little knowledge of your business, you're not yet a brand name, and they don't know much about your product. They see hundreds of ads a day, all asking for their hard-earned dollars.

Their care factor about your business is zero.

Their care factor about themselves and their loved ones is 100%. Tell them what your product can do for them! Or tell them what their life will be like if they don't use your product/service.

Make it emotional. I cannot stress this enough. Use words designed to elicit a reaction. Make them cringe, make them swoon, make them yearn, tremble or dream.

Mistake #2

Too much info.

Your product may be amazing. It may be versatile. It may be the next transbilocator modular squeaky thing with teleporting abilities and an automatic Martian translator that comes in every colour of the rainbow and five different sizes for portability.

I don't care.

I want to know why I need it. What is it going to do for me? Sure, I might have a bit of a read through the ad out of curiosity, but unless I see how this product is relevant to me, I'm not buying. However, if you appeal to my emotions and convince me I need it, then I will click through to your site to read the finer details and find out if it comes in my favourite shade of hot pink and whether it will fit in my briefcase. Hopefully, by this time, I'm so sure I need it that I'll buy it even though it only comes in bright purple or vomit green.

Mistake #3

A weak call to action

Command them to buy. Yes, command. Don't plead or ask. No meek 'Feel free to click here' tags. If you've written the ad right, they want your product already; they just need to be told what to do next.

Buy now. Click here. Get yours now.

Mistake #4

Not knowing your target audience.

Know your target audience. I'll say it again – KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE. I talk to so many clients who insist they know their target audience but when I query them, they say something like, “They're women aged 18 – 35” or “They’re men between 45 and 60 years old”.

No. They're not. What you've just told me is only the tip of the iceberg.

Keep peeling away the layers. Do these 18-35-year-old women have kids? Are they in the workforce? Are they career woman?

Go a layer deeper - are these women aged 18-35 years old, working and sick of their kids coming home with lice, a pile of homework and five notes to be filled out, signed and returned to school by the next day? Or, are they stay-at-home mums who have a hungry, screaming baby in their arms, a toddler around their ankles and a husband who works late? Or, are they corporate high-flyers with impressive jobs and bank accounts to match who come home each night to their adored and pampered cat?

Go another layer deeper.

What do they want? What do they need? What do they desire? What are their insecurities? Their fears? Are they lonely? Time poor? Sleep deprived? Do they feel unattractive? Unlovable?

Tap into all of this with your ads. Target these feelings. Question them, chide them, sympathise with them, tell them you understand.

And then wave the magic wand that will transform their lives – your product or service.

How to do it

If all of this sounds a bit overwhelming and you don't know where to begin, start by making a list of what you do know then go to the end of the list to write the beginning of your ad.

Here's how:-

1) Write a description of your product

2) Write down who might use it: male aged between 45 – 65.

3) Break it down further: single and married males in white collar jobs with large mortgages, may have kids.

4) Write down what they might want/need in their life: to pay off mortgage before retirement, to spend more time with kids, to find love, to get healthy.

5) Break that down further. Get more specific. They have a fear of aging, a fear of dying, desire to connect, regret, need/desire for financial security.

6) Go deeper. Fear of aging because they don't want to lose their looks? Their health? Their mobility? Fear of death because they don't know what the 'other side' holds or they haven't done all the things they wanted to do? Are they wanting financial security so they can retire early or pay off the mortgage? Are they sick of the rat race? Do they want to take their partner out in style? Provide for their kids?

7) Now write down as many emotive words as you can think of that relate to each of those feelings.

8) By now, you should have a page or two of writing. Write an ad for each individual type of person you've listed. Write one for the successful businessman who fears the younger generation usurping him. Write one for the nice guy who worked hard for his family but regrets not spending enough time with them and wants to reconnect but doesn't know how.

Now you can tell them what your product will do for them. Hand them their miracle.

You might think you sound somewhat like a late night infomercial. So what? It's a start. And besides, infomercials do sell.

Spend a bit of time tweaking your advertisement so it sounds like something that fits with your brand. Take notice of the feelings you get as you write and when you feel uncomfortable about the emotive angle your ad is taking. Write five different ads appealing to five different emotions. You'll find that it will help you to fine-tune your ideas on what you do or don't want your product to be known for and this will help with branding.

Congratulations. You've now got the basis of your advertisement.

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Marina Catherine

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