Executives, especially at smaller organizations, sometimes doubt whether advertising is important to the success of their business. The same goes for public relations, marketing, and other promotional disciplines.

Usually, the suspicions crop up in the mind of the CEO or CFO, and usually after eyeballing the company financials. This is fine, up to a point. Their job is to maximize income while minimizing expenses. Advertising is costly, as a rule - and, in some instances, customer demand can make it totally unnecessary.

Still, as nearly any communication pro can tell you, some doubters take their distrust to the extreme, demanding to know, "Does advertising even work?" The answer is yes.

Logic tells you so. At the most basic level, if an organization doesn't let people know about its products or services, then they're not likely to become customers, clients, or members. Experience does, too. If you've ever stuck a sign in the ground to promote a rummage sale, or run a classified ad to sell a house or car, you've witnessed the results firsthand. That's why advertising is practically everywhere you look or listen - bombarding each of us with thousands of impressions a day - and why it's a huge industry.

We, of course, at The NEWS, are thankful to all who advertise in this publication. It's why, in this issue, we are recognizing those who have been exceptionally adept at capturing your attention.

By The Numbers

It was our attempt to select the best advertisements placed inThe NEWSfor 2005, but that, in itself, is a monumental task. After all, identifying the "best" is subjective, at best. And, we did not want this to strictly be a popularity contest. Therefore, we tried to do so via a more "scientific" method.

Each year, The NEWS turns to professional research studies to provide our advertisers with input regarding the ads they place in this publication. These periodic studies are designed to measure the effectiveness of their advertisements and provide them with feedback on what works and what doesn't. Not every issue gets this treatment.

This year, the researchers reviewed the ads in the Feb. 7, March 21, April 18, June 20 and Sept. 19 issues. The ensuing reports are delivered directly to advertisers of that issue. Readership of each item is reported in a fashion that informs the advertiser about the percentage of readers who saw an ad and the percentage who found it noticeably interesting.

Turn To Consultants For Opinions

The NEWScompiled the two respective numbers (percentage of respondents who saw the item and the percentage of respondents who found the item of interest) to produce a concrete number to work with.

Fifteen of the top ads were then handed over to The NEWS' Contractor Consultants for comment.

We must note that not all of the consultants agreed with the final tabulation. As followers of the Olympics know all too well, not all judges are alike - nor do they judge alike.

For instance, NEWS Contractor Consultant Russ Donnici of Mechanical Air Service said, "I do like graphics and color, but it's not the main attraction. I am probably a little strange, but I do look at every ad in whatever I am reading. I am interested in the content of the ad.

"Can I learn something from it? Is it a product I use, and is it something new they are bringing out?"

Donnici continued, "Many times I call or have my office call for additional information on the product, like actual specifications and application information."

Donnici believes the HVACR trade is rapidly changing "and to stay up on things we need to arm ourselves with as much information as possible and training."

"I have always believed that leaders are readers," said Donnici. "You can't lead your company if you are not aware of changes in your trade and management techniques to better lead your firm."

Meanwhile, fellow NEWS Contractor Consultant Roger Grochmal said he tended to focus on ads that "are of direct interest to me."

"As the vast majority of our work is residential service and replacement, I tend to focus on the products and services that center on that sector," said the president of Atlas Air/Climate Care, noting that he bypasses some ads that don't appeal to him.

"In general, bigger is better, as well as inserts and covers," he summarized, passing along his guide for ads.

"This certainly works to make it noticeable, but at the end of the day the ad has to be carefully crafted to be of interest."

Publication date: 12/12/2005