Winning More Business With Effective Ads Part 1

Last time we discussed the Message, Market, Media mix and how important it is to hit the sweet spot in your marketing.

This week we’ll touch on how to write more effective ads.

I’d like to introduce you to Claude Hopkins (1866 – 1932). He was one of the great advertising pioneers, and was the first person to define what “advertising” actually meant. In his book “Scientific Advertising” he wrote:

“To properly understand advertising or to learn even its rudiments one must start with the right conception. Advertising is salesmanship. Its principles are the principles of salesmanship. Successes and failures in both lines are due to like causes. Thus every advertising question should be answered by the salesman’s standards.

“Let us emphasize that point. The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales.

“It is not for general effect. It is not to keep your name before the people. It is not primarily to aid your other salesmen. Treat it as a salesman. Force it to justify itself. Compare it with other salesmen. Figure its cost and result. Accept no excuses which good salesmen do not make. Then you will not go far wrong.

These points are as true today as they were when they were written nearly one hundred years ago! If you’d like a FREE copy of Scientific Advertising, click here.

So the question then becomes: how can we make our advertising as effective as possible?

The answer is to test. Test again. And then test some more.

If ad “A” receives 5 responses, and ad “B” receives 7 responses, then we can deduce that ad “B” will continue to outperform ad “A” on a larger scale. You should therefore continue to run ad “B”.

Testing takes time, however, and can be difficult to do in a small area like the South of Tenerife. Therefore, it’s ideal to start with some proven concepts and work from there.

There is a huge amount of information available on what’s proven to work in advertising, if you know where to look. Many concepts have been proven time and time again, and will continue to work in the future.

So it stands to reason that knowing some basic rules or techniques about writing effective copy is in order. Test results will always trump everything, but it’s better to have a starting point rather than relying on pure guesswork.

So this starting point is the essence of this article.

The tips you’ll see here have been time-tested and are known to be effective.  But I can’t emphasize enough that when using these you should always test them before rolling out a large (and expensive) campaign. Sometimes a little tweak here or there is all that is needed to increase response rates dramatically.

Focus on Them, Not You

When a prospect reads your ad, letter, brochure, etc., the one thing he will be wondering from the start is: “what’s in it for me?

And if your copy doesn’t tell him, it’ll land in the rubbish bin faster than he can read the headline or lead.

A lot of advertisers make this mistake. They focus on themselves as a company. How long they’ve been in business, who their biggest customers are, blah, blah.

When writing your copy, it helps to think of it as writing a letter to an old friend. What would I say to convince this friend to try my product? How would I target my friend’s objections and beliefs to help my cause?

When you’re writing to a friend, you’ll use the pronouns “I” and “you.” When trying to convince your friend, you might say: “Look, I know you think you’ve tried every widget out there. But you should know that…”

Emphasise Benefits, Not Features

What are features? They are descriptions of what qualities a product or service possesses. “Our ladder’s frame is made from a lightweight durable steel-alloy.

And what are benefits? They are what those features mean to your prospects.

Lightweight durable steel-alloy frame means you’ll be able to take it with you with ease, and use it in places most other ladders can’t go, while still supporting up to 400 kg. No more backaches lugging around that heavy ladder. And it’ll last for 150 years, so you’ll never need to buy another ladder again!

I just made up that example, but I think you understand my point.

You are not writing to impress your English teacher or win any awards. The only award you’re after is making sales, so take some liberty in grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. You want it to be read and acted upon, not read and admired!

But—back to benefits…

If you were selling an expensive watch, you wouldn’t tell your reader that the face is 2 inches in diameter and the band is made of leather.

You show him how the extra-large face will tell him the time at a glance. No sir! He won’t have to squint and look foolish to everyone around him trying to read this magnificent timepiece. And how about the way he’ll project success and charisma when he wears the beautiful gold watch with its handcrafted custom leather band? How his lover will find him irresistible when he’s all dressed up to go out, wearing the watch. Or how the watch’s status and beauty will attract the ladies.

The point is to address the benefits of the product, not its features. And when you do that, you’re focusing on your customer and his interests, his desires. The trick is to highlight those specific benefits (and word them correctly) so that they push your reader’s emotional hot buttons.

Next time we’ll continue to cover time-tested and proven basic rules for writing effective ads, in the meantime you can visit to download a FREE Ad Writing Checklist sponsored by Canarian Weekly!

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