Ninety-nine percent of all advertising is a jumble of hyperbole, fluff, and platitudes. A big yawn. Terms such as “professionalism,” “cheapest,” “service,” “quality,” and “convenient” are everywhere. They do nothing to communicate why you're the best value to your customers or how you solve problems that nobody else solves.

But most contractors go on churning out these platitudes that do nothing more than get their name out there, if that. Why would anyone want to waste all that money hardly saying anything to anyone? Because we see ads for General Motors, McDonald's, and Pepsi-Cola all the time, and assume that's how advertising is done.

INTO ACTION A more effective strategy is advertising that gets prospects to take action which, in turn, leads to a purchase. That action could be to call for an appointment, visit your Web site, or request product information. This is different from Fortune 500 advertising, which tries to create a feeling and associate it with a particular product.

The bottom line is that you have to spend your money — whether it's hundreds, thousands, or even millions of dollars — more wisely than Fortune 500 businesses do. And you do that by using action-oriented advertising.

MEASURED EFFECTIVE NESS Action-oriented advertising has many benefits. The main one is that you know almost instantly how profitable or unprofitable your ads are, based on the number of appointments, inquiries, hits, or leads you receive directly from the ads.

You'll hear a lot of people in the advertising industry say you can't quantify the results of your advertising like that, and in some cases they're right. But that's only because many business owners don't understand the fundamentals of how to employ their advertising to make money.

Some people will tell you that you can't do action-oriented advertising in certain media. Again, you can, if — and only if — you know how.

—Rich Harshaw, author of Monopolize Your Marketplace, is a marketing expert;