How to Write Ad Copy That Keeps Your Prospects Entranced

write entrancing ad copyMonday, I showed you two ads, one by Samsung and one by Apple.

Both are about electronics.  Both have multi-million dollar campaigns behind them, sponsored by large well-known companies.

What’s the difference?

The Samsung ad starts off, “Nobody aspires to be second best, or make an average entrance…”  Good, it’s telling me that I can be better than average! Unusual and remarkable.

Samsung loves themselves

But towards the end, it goes off the rails. It turns all of that into an ode to themselves, rather than about the people buying the phone.

“We have the best and brightest screen on our fastest phone ever.  Because we’re Samsung, and that’s just the way we’re wired.”

The phone spins. You see the logo over and over, while the announcer repeats the product name.

Lastly, the words “The Wonder of Samsung” appear on the screen, along with the logo, and those of retailers that sell the phone.

You’re not better, Samsung is better.

Apple loves their audience

In contrast, the Apple ad says,  “Are you curious about new ideas? Do you want to learn a new language? Or just a new word? ..Uncover a hidden talent?  There has never been a better time to learn.”

The announcer never mentions the name of the product or who makes it.  He never says “we” or “our” only “you.”

The Apple logo and the words “Ipad2” show up only briefly, at the end.

The entire experience is about the viewer.

And that’s why it works.

Focus on your audience

Run the one-minute marketing test on your ad or your email or your web page.  See who you’re really talking about.

Write ad copy and promote your products and services to fulfill your audience’s desires, what they want to achieve, or save, or earn. They’ll be entranced.

Photo: Broderick via Flickr

A Simple Headline Writing Tip That Gets More Readers

numbers in headlines
Want to hear a simple headline writing tip? It’s become extraordinarily popular recently, but the truth is that this headline secret has been used since the days of Claude Hopkins in the 1920s to get readers to stop and take notice.

It’s really easy too. And, it doesn’t even involve using words.

What do these headlines have in common?

“8 Habits of Highly Effective Copywriters”

This works because it promises something short (only eight items to remember) and offers a big promise.  Learn a few new habits and your writing will be far more effective. The unspoken payoff is that you’ll then earn more and get more clients.

“How to Write a Blog Post in 15 Minutes”

This headline offers to help you do something hard (write a blog post) and cut the time needed to a fraction of what you probably expected it to take.

“Increase Your Blog Subscription Rate by 153%”

This promises specific, definite results.  Not just 150%, but 153. The exact number makes the claim far more credible.

“103 Ways to Get Top Bloggers to Link to You”

We want more links because links can bring more traffic and more clicks.  Offering over a hundred different ways to do it, and telling us that we can not only get those links, but receive them from top bloggers is a compelling promise.

15 Marketing Terms You Need to Know

The common theme is that they all have numbers in them. I know, everyone “hates” list posts, but they do get people to stop and look. And, the secret to successful marketing isn’t what you personally prefer. It’s what works.

Why numbers work

Numbers work because they force us to focus – and because they give us a finite, concrete sounding example of something; only 15 minutes to write a great post, or 103 ways to get noticed by blogging superstars.  Spend a few minutes reading these tips and you’ll get something concrete and important when you’re finished.

The more specific the number, the better.  For example, if you increased your subscription rate by 153%, don’t round it down to 150%, the “odd’ number looks more believable.

Lists and checklists

Lists help us process information and tell our brains that we’re getting a reward. A short list tells us that we can find out something useful in just a few minutes. A longer one shouts that it’s definitive and comprehensive.

A list called “five steps to getting clients on Facebook” tells us that if we just do five things, we’ll be able to turn our Facebook efforts into a powerful marketing tool. “101” Copywriting Tricks” promises information that will make our writing better and more effective, all in an easy-to-follow format.  Just go through the list and you’ve accomplished something big.

Bullet points and lists may be the “fast food” equivalent of post writing, but they’re easier to read (and finish) than a gourmet meal of long paragraphs.

Just follow the list! You’re now a better writer, a twitter guru, or irresistible to reporters.
And, who can resist something that will make you irresistible?

Image by Daniel Ullrich via Flickr

How to Write Copy That Fascinates Your Readers

fascinating bullet points

Are your bullet points so fascinating they can keep a baby’s attention?

There’s a little-known, but fascinating copywriting trick used by top copywriters and direct marketers such as Mel Martin, Eugene Schwartz, Boardroom, and Agora.

Direct mail may be considered old-fashioned by some, but the writing techniques developed decades ago by top copywriters still work. And, they also work online.

One of these old tricks is fascinations.  They’re called “fascinations” because you just can’t resist reading them.

What’s so fascinating about fascinations?

Fascinations are simply little bullet points. Bullet points by themselves are not particularly interesting, but these are different.  They’re specially constructed to make you curious, to tease, and to tempt you to read more (much more).

The key to writing a successful fascination bullet is to state a fact and then add a benefit. Sounds simple, right?

It is simple.

How to write fascinating copy

First, keep your bullet points short.  Just write a single line, or two at most.  The goal is to make the bullets quick and easy to read.  You don’t want to slow people down or confuse them.  Don’t use subheadings or run-on sentences with lots of commas.  Edit them ruthlessly.

The bullet points don’t even have to be complete sentences.  You want your copy to be easy to read and easy to scan.

Think of them as “mini-headlines”: short, attention-grabbing, and so compelling that your visitors can’t stop themselves from reading further.

Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • bills it’s OK to pay late
  • the one thing you should never eat on an airplane
  • try this weird old (________) tip*
  • how to quit sending queries and have business come to you
  • the decades-old copywriting technique that still works today

*fill in the blank with the topic of your ad, such as retirement planning, IT management, etc. and yes, it’s been abused in the age of BuzzFeed, but that’s because it works.

All of these promise inside information that will make your life easier.

First they make a statement, and then they add a surprising twist the reader wasn’t expecting.

Two great practitioners of this art were Mel Martin and Bill Jayme.  They’re both gone, but there are two places you can see examples of their work:

Mel Martin swipe file

Bill Jayme swipe file

Why fascinations work

They arouse your curiosity.  They almost tell you something – but not quite.  The only way to find out what those bills are, or the secret weird tip is to click the link, subscribe to the newsletter, or open the envelope.

What do you think about fascinations?  Have you ever tried them?

Have You Made This Dumb Marketing Mistake?

Ford Edsel

Image by Supermac1961 via Flickr

Long ago (OK, it wasn’t the first, or the last, time) I made a dumb marketing mistake.  I was reminded of it recently, and thought I’d share.

I had just gotten promoted to a brand-new job (yay!).  We were doing a direct marketing campaign for some training products (a video and training manual).  I don’t remember how much it cost, but let’s call it $200. While we were putting the package together, my boss (also new), said, “Hey, we’ve also got a book (which cost $14) about that, let’s throw that in too.”  So I did.

A casual suggestion leads to a big problem

At first, we thought we were doing well. The list was good and the copy was convincing. Our sales started streaming in.  It should have been a great success.  There was only one problem. And, it was a big one.

People went straight for the $14 book and virtually ignored the $200 training video.  We sold plenty of books, but almost no videos.  Oops.

Unfortunately, I had (in a way) done my job both too well and not well at all.  I successfully sold the material, but didn’t do enough to differentiate the book from the video.  Since they both seemed like equally good choices, people bought the book because it cost less.

If there’s a cheaper option, or too many options, it will confuse people, dilute the value of your higher-priced product, and reduce your earnings.

One thing at a time

Don’t try to sell several things at once.  Ever watch an infomercial or direct TV ad (think sham-wow or slap-chopper), or even QVC?  They sell one thing at a time. They give reasons to buy it. They tell you the price.  And ask for the sale.  They never try to sell the $10 sham-wow and the $15 chopper in the same ad.

One good thing though – at least I wasn’t trying to sell an Edsel.