Here are some characteristics shared by successful direct response print ads. From Bob Bly . . .
STRESS A BENEFIT. The main selling proposition is not cleverly hidden but is made immediately clear. Example: “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
AROUSE CURIOSITY AND INVITE READERSHIP. Good point!! The key here is not to be outrageous but to address the strongest interests and concerns of your target audience. Example: “Do You Make These Mistakes in English?” appeals to the reader’s desire to avoid embarrassment and write and speak properly.
PROVIDE INFORMATION. The headline “How to Stop Emission Problems–at Half the Cost of Conventional Air Pollution Control Devices” lures the reader because it promises useful information. Prospects today seek specific, usable information on highly specialized topics. Ads that provide information the reader wants get higher readership and better response.
BE KNOWLEDGEABLE. Successful ad copy reflects a high level of knowledge and understanding of the product and the problem it solves. An effective technique is to tell the reader something he already knows, proving that you, the advertiser, are well-versed in his industry, application, and or requirement.
1. HEADLINES: Use Them Well. Bob Bly tells us how.
The phrase “how to” may be shopworn. But it’s still tremendously effective because prospects want to know how to solve their problems and improve their business results.
One of the most effective ads I ever wrote, for a pollution control device, had the simple headline “How to Solve Your Emissions Problems at Half the Energy Cost of Conventional Venturi Scrubbers.”
The USP is this alternative type of scrubber operates at half the cost of the widely used venture scrubbers. The half-page, two-color ad was the No. 1 inquiry producer in four consecutive issues of Chemical Engineering magazine.
Tip: When you are stuck coming up with a headline, write the words “how to” and then just fill in what your product does. Example: An ad I wrote for filters used in pharmaceutical manufacturing had the simple headline “How to Keep Your Products Pure.”
Use headlines in all of your essays. In high school, you were told to put a title on your essay. And you obliged your teacher. Your work was okay; it was not great. You knew it, and I knew it. You want to generate more interest in your work. So turn your English essay title into a headline. Headlines sell. They’re also more interesting to read, so they generate more interest for your reader. So just by turning your title into a headline, you’ve achieved greater interest in your work than your competitor. See how that works?
More on HEADLINES from Bob Bly . . .
Together, the headline and visual should get the gist of your sales pitch across to the reader. “Every good ad should be able to stand as a poster,” writes Alastair Crompton in his book. The Craft of Copywriting. “The reader should never have to dip into the small print in order to understand the point of the story.
Often simple visuals are the best visuals. “We tested two different mail order ads selling a collector’s reproduction of a watch originally manufactured into the 1920s,” said Will Stone, of the Hamilton Watch Company. “One ad used a large dramatic photo showing the watch against a plain background. The other visual had less emphasis on the product and focused on a scene depicting the ‘roaring twenties’ period during which the watch was originally made. It showed flappers and a 1920’s car. The ad with the straight product photo–‘product as hero’–generated three times as many sales as the other version.”
As a general rule, simple visuals that show the product or illustrate some aspect of its use are better than unusual, creative concepts that can actually hide what you are selling, thus reducing the ad’s selling power.
2. UpWorthyGenerator. Online headline generator.