How To Improve Ad Performance – Are 2 Offers Better Than 1?

by Paula

February 27, 2013

are two offers better than 1

This week’s ad review is about ads that are trying too hard to sell you on something….anything…. So, the question is, are 2 offers on an ad better than 1? Or are 5 even better? Here is an example. This is the ad for Carmel Plaza Dental in Carmel Mountain.

Are multiple offers better than one?
Are multiple offers better than one?

Looking at this ad we can see that the advertiser, a dental office, is trying to tell you pretty much all they do on a half a page ad.

If you look at this ad, there are many areas that “scream” at you:

– The $35 offer, with all the if’s and but’s like (only new patients, or insurance payment, only if you don’t have gum disease, must mention code, etc)

Are 2 offers better than one? Will ad performance improve?
Are 2 offers better than one? Will ad performance improve?

– 0% financing available

– Free second opinions

– 4 dentists to choose from

– Picture of implants

– Dentures

– Wisdom teeth

– Sedation dentistry

– We discuss options

An ad only has a fraction of a second to call someone’s attention before they move on to the next one. In this case, there is so much text, that truthfully I don’t even want to know what the ad is about. It seems like the offer is truly a good dental offer: $35 dollars for a cleaning, including the exam. As far as I can tell, this is the main reason why you should go to this dentist. Yet, the ad includes many other services. So the dental office is probably thinking that maybe there’s someone looking for implants and they can see it too, or dentures… or wisdom teeth… or maybe they want a large office with several dentists… or they have a big problem and need to see the 2nd opinion…or wait! Maybe they need financing!

Get my point? They’re hoping that something sticks. That only says to me that they have no clue who their target is for this ad.

Good Performing Ads Have a Goal

The first and most important thing when creating an ad that performs is to have a goal. What is it that you’re trying to achieve? You must be specific when you answer that question. So, if the goal is to get new people in, be specific as to what kind of potential customers you want to attract and why? In the case of Carmel Plaza Dental, it seems to me that they really want the $35 Cleaning target. Why do I say that? Because it’s the most prominent number on the page. But having worked (and currently working) with several dental practices, I know that for dentists an implant client is worth a lot. The same goes for cosmetic procedures. Since these patients typically are worth thousands of dollars, then dentists are often targeting these types of people. However, more often than not, the average twice-a-year-family-visits are the ones that pay the bills. So no surprise, Carmel Plaza Dental is being aggressive with the introductory rate. In this case, then, the goal of this piece should have been: to bring new patients in at the introductory rate in order for them to know the practice and retain them as clients so that when they have the more expensive need, they are already our customer.

When you think about the goal, the number of offers you want to put on the ad will naturally decrease in number, because each offer tends to have different goals.

Performing Ads Have a Clear Target Identified

Now that we have a goal, we need to focus on who we’re advertising to. Who is the decision-maker for the $35 cleaning? Very likely: moms. It’s probably safe to say that Carmel Plaza Dental (because of its location) targets middle-high income families. In this group, parents tend to care about their children’s health than they do their own, so likely they are more diligent about taking the kids to the dentist every 6 months.

They Identify the Need of the Customer

Once that goal is set, and the target is set, then the rest of the copy (including pictures and graphic design of the ad) can be done around telling moms how easy it is to come in and bring the family for a cleaning: Only $35, flexible hours, work weekends, children friendly, no wait times… etc etc etc. Even adding testimonials of other moms can be effective. If you see where I’m going, now you see that all the rest of the random text in the ad is only cluttering and reducing the performance of the ad making any potential reader turn the page as fast as possible. Once the ad has a clear goal and a clear target, it’s easier to see that the single offer is sufficient to induce action is shown to the right person.

The Right Medium

With the target identified, you’ll be able to assess which medium to use? Where is my audience, where is the mom I’m advertising to? Is she offline? In Valpak, Community Guide, RSVP, the newspaper? Is she Online? Google Offers, Facebook Ads, Google Adwords? For example, if we were targeting the senior citizen looking to get some implants, maybe we would rather advertise in the Rancho Bernardo Monthly Magazine. But for younger moms, maybe digital and mobile are better options. If you’re advertising for Implants and have a good implant offer, then you need to advertise it where your target for implants is more likely to be.

Don’t Try to Be Everything to All People

The bottom line is that you cannot be everything to all people, so ads perform better when there is a defined target market with a defined need, with a defined offer specifically designed to attract the target. Trying to say all you do on a quarter page is inefficient, to say the least.

Do Not Try to Upsell

Many people make the mistake of trying to upsell in the first ad the person sees. This is detrimental. It adds to the decision-making process of the individual and when things start to get complicated, your ad gets skipped. Upselling should be done at the location, once you have the customer physically in the store or on the phone.

Track, Track, Track

Anytime I discuss ad performance I mention call tracking. This is the only way to really know the effectiveness of your ad. Sure, you can tell people that they must bring the ad, blah blah blah, but don’t make it difficult for people. With call tracking, you’ll have the best data possible. If you still don’t believe me that one offer is better than many, then do a test. Split in half your mailings if you can (for example if you’re doing stand-alone direct mail), and send half with one offer and half with 2 offers. Call track the pieces and you will have your data. In previous tests, we’ve found that single offer ads improve performance by up to 50%. If you cannot split test, then do one month with a single offer and then do the following month with multiple offers. Be careful of seasonality when you do this test as naturally, some months are better than others just due to seasonality.

Your Website Can Help

So how are people going to know about all the other great products or services you offer? This is where your website comes in. If your website allows you to create content, then creating a page devoted to a specific product or service is easy and costs almost nothing. The advantage of creating a page specifically for one service (for example “Laser Gum Surgery” to continue with our example) is that people that visit your site can go deeper on the site and read more about the particular service that is of interest to them. So you can actually improve the effectiveness of a print ad by directing people to a page deeper on the site (that speaks about the “Need” you’re advertising on print) where they can find out more information about the particular service. In the case of Carmel Plaza Dental, they would advertise their $35 special, and perhaps direct people to a page called www.carmelplazadenta.com/specials. SEO is the way to reach those more niche customers. When your site is well optimized for search, your site can show up on the first page for more specific terms (long-tail terms) that will have less volume but more intent.


They say a good ad says the right thing to the right person at the right time. In the case of print advertising, a single offer to the right target will perform better than multiple offers to multiple targets, and if you don’t believe me, run a test!

About the author 

Meet Paula Danylchuk, a seasoned digital marketer with over two decades of expertise.

Paula has a BS in Finance from the Universidad Panamericana, and an MBA in Information Technology from SDSU. She has worked in senior management roles at Qualcomm and Kyocera Wireless.

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