AD-COPY SURGEON STRIKES AGAIN! Leaves Broken Headlines, Fractured Body Copy in His Path

By Drew Eric Whitman, D.R.S.
Direct Response Surgeon

Copyright Drew Eric Whitman All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited without prior written permission from the author.

Here we are again - hands still bloodied from our last session - intent on ridding that evil, response-killing disease: Advertis Waytoo Boringus.

In the last article, I gave you some of the most important advice that any advertising professional possibly could. So let me quickly recap those five main points so we can jump right in!

  1. You learned that about 60% of all readers will read your headline and no more, so your headline MUST be strong!
     
  2. You learned that in order to stand out, you must give your offer unique "Positioning" - the "slant" or "angle" as newspaper reporters call it.
     
  3. You learned to use something unique about you, your background, your appearance, your hobbies and more, as one way to develop your positioning!
     
  4. You learned to give readers specifics because it increases believability and thus, response!
     
  5. And you learned the differences between Features and Benefits. In order to persuade people to buy, you must load your copy with BENEFITS!

If you don't remember all this, I advise you to reread the last issue before continuing. These points are critical.

Now - let's jump right in with Ad Critique #5.

Hmmm - here's a real beauty of an ad (snicker) that I just saw the other day in the classifieds:

AD CRITIQUE #5:

100% GUARANTEED
NO HYPE, ONLY RESULTS
FREE CASSETTE TAPE, 24-PAGE BOOKLET
AND COMPLETE DETAILS. SEND $2.00
(POSTAGE & HANDLING) DEDUCTIBLE
OR REFUNDABLE.

Yes! That's the entire ad! Before I get out the scalpel on this one, you tell me what's wrong with it. Are you thinking the same thing I am? What the #!@&%! is this person selling? This ad tells us nothing about nothing. All I know after reading it is that it's guaranteed - but to do what? You get a free tape (for $2.00) and a 24-page booklet. And if you're not happy, you can get your money back.

Can you see why this person is severely limiting the response that she could get? I hope so. Most people today don't want to play games sending their hard-earned money away for something that promises nothing.

Hey, look folks - if you're going to take the trouble to produce a tape and a 24 pages of info, at least tell your readers what they're going to be reading and listening to! People love tapes -- they're powerful sales tools. But can you imagine your local record and book store featuring a display of tapes and books without titles? Who's the artist? Who's the author? Chances are you wouldn't buy even at half price, let alone struggle to send for it through the mail! This ad is so poor that I don't want to spend any more time on it. I can't even improve it because I don't know what the product or service is! Sigh. I'm depressed. Let's move on.

AD CRITIQUE #6:

Homeworkers Needed Now!
Easy work, Big Profits. Send Free
Details Today.

Remember what I told you last time about placing ads like these in MLM publications? Without a unique positioning, your opportunity ad is like a grain of sand in the Sahara. MLM is plagued with thousands of these offers. Remember: Don't expect any significant response to curiosity-type offers that have no unique positioning, "slant" or "angle."

An ad like the one above may work okay in a local newspaper or shopper because the general public hasn't been completely overwhelmed by these offers ... yet. There are still a lot of out-of -the-circle people who are attracted by this "Homeworking" idea. But that's not to say that this ad would be great for that audience either - it just has a better chance.

Want Powerful Headlines?
Try This ...

That ad brings to mind a very powerful kind of headline that you might want to try. It's the newsworthy-type headline. With this approach, you say things like, "ATTENTION READERS"- "ANNOUNCING XXX"- "PRESENTING XXX"- "AT LAST! XXX"- "FINALLY! XXX." Those "XXX"s represent additional headline copy.

For example, "Finally! A Print & Mail Dealer Who's Not Afraid to Prove What He Mails!" Or, "At Last! An Easy Way to Deal With Even The Most Obnoxious People!" Or, "Announcing a Powerful Mental Technique that Breaks Most Any Habit In 2-1/2 Minutes!"

Get the idea? Good.

And oh, do you see how I wrote those headlines? Can you feel a strong attractiveness about them? You almost want to respond yourself, don't you? How did I do this? IT'S ALL IN THE POSITIONING! (Read last month's article!) You need to discover what is UNIQUE about your offer and then say it in an appealing way! If there's nothing very appealing about your product or service (There usually is, it just takes some digging!), then there's probably something unique about YOU (Again, see last month's issue.) that you can use!

AD CRITIQUE #7:

Make Money Writing!
ANYONE CAN
I do it full time for big bucks.
Send me a long SASE (self-addressed,
stamped envelope) for my FREE report
on how you can do it, too.

I like this little ad. It immediately appeals to those people who are interested in writing because it says the offer right up in the headline. It was also designed in an appealing manner, with the main headline "knocked out" (as we ad folk say) of a black background in a small square with the three headline words set on three decks (levels) with a subhead and body copy on the right side. This was an effective use of small space.

What's more, (The words, "What's more" is a good lead-in and creates a nice transition from one thought to another. Try it!) the copy uses "Prescription #5: "YOU. ME. I. HE. SHE. HIM. THEY. THEM PRONOUNS." It sounds as if it were written by a human, not a cold, impersonal corporation. It's warm and friendly.

For example, notice the line, "I do it for big bucks" She didn't say, "Tremendous financial wealth is possible." Plus, the subhead, "ANYONE CAN" is reassuring to readers who would like to write for money, but believe they're not capable.

Still, I would have liked to see some specifics. What kind of writing? Ads? Poetry? Insurance literature? Pre-school books? All these and more? You see, by not being specific, this advertiser may be chasing many respondents away by having THEM improperly conjecture what kind of writing is required. Porn? Real estate ads? Something illegal? Something dreadfully boring, like prescription medication usage-summaries for physicians? Why let your (already suspicious) readers talk themselves out of ordering because you didn't give enough information?

So ... just like they jam a tap into the trunk of a maple tree and watch the thick, sweet syrup ooze out, let's now tap into the brain of a typical opportunity seeker when s/he comes across this ad, and listen in for a moment, shall we? The words in all CAPITAL LETTERS denote the ad copy being read.

"La, de da ... look at all this stuff ... all these hyped-up offers ... DO YOU SUFFER FROM HEART TROUBLES? ... no, thank God ... Aunt Betty did have heart problems ... wonder how she's doing? CTEAM + WATKINS=SUCCE$$ ... What's the Team? Who is Watkins? ... Hmmm ... this looks like an interesting article, I'll read it later ... Here's an ad: EASY WORK, EXCELLENT PAY TAKING SNAPSHOTS ... sounds interesting, but I don't have a good camera and you probably need one ... Wish I could afford one of those nice auto-focus models like Bill has, that rich sucker ... maybe I should get into his business ... I could always put it on my Master Card ... yeah, right, I already owe $3,500 ... I really should budget my money ... GET PAID $25 FOR EACH NAME YOU RECEIVE ... How? What do I have to do? Whose names? Sounds like a major exaggeration here. I've seen a million of these ads. If it's so great why isn't he doing it instead of placing ads asking other people to do it? A NEW BODY-CARE SYSTEM--LIKE TO FEEL YOUNG & HEALTHY? ... Hmmm ... My body is fine ... besides, "Like To Feel Young And Healthy" should have been the headline, not sentence number two. (Doctor's Note: I think we tapped into MY mind here! Ha!) MAKE MONEY WRITING ... I like to write ... would be great if I could make money doing it ... but who would BUY what I write ... I don't know if I'm THAT good ... ANYONE CAN ... Hmmmm ... that makes me feel better ... maybe they know a secret of how to do it even if you're not a Hemingway ... What do I have to write, though? Hmmm ... I DO IT FULL TIME FOR BIG BUCKS ... This person does it full time and makes good money ... what does s/he know that I don't? ... SEND A LONG SASE FOR A FREE REPORT ... that's easy enough ... plus it's free, I like that ... not much risk here ... could be interesting ... hmmm ... okay, I'll send for this one."

That "Brain-Tap" showed you a mere fraction of the thousands of separate thoughts running through people's minds when they read ads. In actuality, it all happens in seconds! You think that all they're doing is reading your ad? Think again! They're criticizing, judging, negating, fantasizing, evaluating and running through a whole slew of other feelings and mental conversations! The trick is to GRAB them with your headline by targeting them so precisely with an offer you know is right up their alley.

For example, "Make $38.00 per Hour Downhill Skiing!" placed in a Ski magazine. Or through a strong curiosity/benefit appeal such as, "New York Psychologist Reveals Powerful Speaking Technique that Instantly Puts Rude Salespeople In Their Place." This is something that almost every consumer would like to know. As much as I hate to admit, advertising is not an exact science. No matter how good you think an ad, brochure or sales letter is, you never really know for sure until you thoroughly test it. But knowing what has produced results in the past does give you a MAJOR advantage. Knowing how to persuade people to buy through the skilled use of words definitely helps. These are things you're learning here in this column every month, thanks to Rick Hanson and this super Marketing Resources InfoCentre web site! 

Okay gang ... that's it for this month! If you learned nothing else from the past two articles, I hope you now understand the importance of Positioning: the idea of finding something unique and appealing to say about your product or service and saying it in your headline ... specifically, interestingly and believably. If you want to succeed in business -- any business -- put this lesson to immediate use.

Next issue, I'm going to give you a whole slew of Quick Tips that you can put into immediate use to boost the power of your ads, brochures, sales letters and more! Until then, I wish you health, happiness and prosperity!



P.S. Would you like to spend 4-1/2 hours with me and learn how to persuade people like an ad-agency pro? In my 6-cassette audio program, "How to Create Power-Packed Ads, Brochures & Sales Letters that Make Money NOW!" I teach you how! Come on... try it for ONE FULL YEAR risk free. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS!

 

PERSUADE LIKE A PRO... Network Like a Ninja... Create Killer Advertising Materials... Strategize Like a Military General... and Leave Your Competition... Choking On Your Dust. 11 Leading business experts teach you how. Click Here For FREE Details!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Drew Eric Whitman, D.R.S. -- is an outspoken, humorous and philosophical advertising trainer, speaker and columnist with 15+ solid years of hands-on experience. His newspaper and magazine articles teach thousands of business people how to use simple, but powerful techniques of Madison Avenue psychology to help them boost their advertising results.


He was a Senior Direct Response Writer for the direct response division of the largest ad agency in Philadelphia. He was also Senior Direct Response Copywriter of one of the largest direct-to-the-consumer insurance companies in the world. He created powerfully effective advertising for small retail shops, to giant, multi-million dollar organizations, including Faber-Castell Corporation, Texaco, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Automobile Association, Amoco, American Legion and many others.

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