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The folks at Heritage Finance called us a couple of weeks ago with an urgent request – write an advertorial! They had purchased some space in Australian Bus magazine at the last minute and needed to get some copy to them within 24 hours.

I have found that the inclination for most clients when thinking about an advertorial is write about themselves but I suspect 99% of advertorials don’t get read. Why not? For the following reasons:

1) It’s appearing in a magazine (or paper) full of genuine stories – so it has to compete with those stories for the attention of the readers.

2) The readers (in this case, “Bus and coach company owners and managers”) are probably very busy. It’s unlikely they are going to read each and every page in the magazine. They just don’t have the time. So they have to decide which two or three stories they can be bothered reading.

3) The advertorial is now competing against REAL stories written by REAL journalists who understand (we hope) the craft of writing an engaging story. Is your advertorial going to be able to compete for the attention of the reader?

4) Of course it’s not just the stories in the magazine you are competing with when it comes to their attention – it’s the other 500 things trying to get 5 minutes of their attention all day, every day – emails, phone calls, staff, their lawyer, their accountant, the paper, the TV, the radio, their wife, kids, parents, dog, etc.

5) Finally – people don’t want to read ads. We hate ads. We don’t want to be sold. We don’t want to hear about how good you are or what you’ve done or how big your dick is. Unless we care. But you have to get them to care first.

So – you first need to get people to care.

How do you do that?

A narrative. A story.


That’s what humans are engineered by a hundred thousand years of evolutionary biology to pay attention to.

Maybe it’s YOUR story – but I’m guessing a more compelling story would be about someone from the industry.

Do you have a good customer story you can tell?

Billy Blogs had a problem. He solved it. He’s now crushing it. Oh by the way, we helped him crush it.

Do you have any stories like that you can tell?

It’s what we in “the biz” call “content marketing”. People are getting VERY GOOD at ignoring advertising, at tuning it out. But they crave good, entertaining, relevant and engaging stories. So it’s our job as marketers to tell them stories as well as we can.

That’s my quick 5 cents on advertorials.

I asked them to put me in contact with a customer who had been on a journey with them. Then I rang that customer and interviewed them for 30 minutes. Heritage were very happy with the end result. I wasn’t happy with the design of the page but we didn’t have any control over that. The magazine usually wants to set it.