If you truly embrace this, you’ll begin shifting away from the platitudes and generalities of institutional advertising to specific, benefit-focused material that’s far more compelling. Here’s how it works.
1. First, “Interrupt” Your Prospect. Remember, people scan lead-generating material through their “WIFM” lens, meaning the brain is listening for, “What’s In it For Me?” Forget about the humorous, clever, trendy ads that most agencies churn out by the zillions. You get more attention by baiting the brain with something it considers important (and problematic).
Use the headline to get attention based on your prospect’s specific concerns and hot buttons. This literally triggers a shift in the brain’s state from its automatic alpha pattern to a receptive beta pattern.
2. “Engage” Your Prospects; Get Them to Read Further. Once you’ve stopped your prospect for a nanosecond, the next challenge is to entice her to stay with your message. “Engage” her by implying that worthwhile, usable information will follow that will help her solve her problem—if she just reads or listens to the rest of your message.
Remember, your objective here is to imply that there is value in your marketing message. Use language that tells the reader she will “learn” or “discover” what she wants to know. The “engage” may be accomplished in a subhead or even the main headline.
3. “Educate” Your Prospect. Most advertisers skip what’s important to their prospect and get right down to selling. But remember, if your prospect doesn’t perceive that he can learn anything, he’ll dismiss your ad as “just like all the rest” and turn his mind to other things. Learn to provide specific, helpful information that offers value to your prospect. Educate him how to solve his problem, and then proceed to educate him about why you’re the right solution. Don’t just say your product or service is great. Explain exactly why and how it’s great for him.
4. Make an “Offer.” In direct response advertising, the offer provides a reason to act now—even if your prospect isn’t ready to buy now. “Low-risk offers,” or those which don’t require the prospect to buy, include free information, free trials and free samples. To act on a low-risk offer, your prospect only needs to provide contact information. This gives you the opportunity to send additional marketing messages her way.
High-risk offers are those that provide an incentive for her to sign and pay, but they only work if she’s ready to buy now. Either way, you’ve given your prospect reason to contact you—more than most ads in the marketplace, including those of your competitors.
How Do You Really Know in Advance What Will Work?
Using the marketing equation significantly improves your odds, but it’s not an ultimate guarantee of satisfactory results. There’s only one way to tell, and that’s to test, test, and test some more before you commit major dollars to a marketing campaign.
In his book, “Tested Advertising Methods,” John Caples (a direct response copywriting guru) documents a classic example where an ad’s headline was changed, and the same ad then pulled 19 times better than before the change! So, if you’re not testing your ads, brochures, headlines, email subject headers, etc. before you use them, I guarantee you’re wasting money.
The solution? Form an ad-hoc focus group consisting of friends or other business people to give you feedback on your materials before you deploy them. Or, join a business group where you can benefit from peer feedback and association.
Tim Smith is a certified marketing executive (CME) with over 30 years experience in advertising agencies, corporate marketing and coaching small business executives.
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