How to use display
Advertising in magazines and newspapers has long been a standard and profitable form of direct marketing.
Display advertising can:
||help establish an image and presence that can make you look like an industry leader in the minds of your prospects and customers.
Your consistent presence can help position you, and that helps increase response to your other direct marketing efforts. These display ad leads or sales can come via mail or phone, or in the form of retail traffic.
For most companies, display advertising is complementary to their direct mail efforts. Few companies find that space ads generate more cost-effective sales or leads than direct mail.
However, your company can still generate substantial numbers. For example, Vanguard has over $19 billion worth of investment funds under management funds, mostly from space advertising. It has generated over a million prospects from its ads.
Making the ad work
However, there is a large graveyard of ad failures. This translates into millions of prospects from its advertising dollars. But, there are ways to make an ad pay for itself.
It is estimated that 70% of the success or failure of your ad depends on your headline. As David Ogilvy points out: “In the average newspaper, your headline has to compete for attention with 350 others. Readers travel so fast through this jungle, they don’t stop to decipher the meaning of obscure headlines.”
You should only be interested in communicating to your prime audience. Your headline, coupon and graphics should only be created for them. The others don’t matter.
Your headline must be targeted. It must be clear about what the offer is.
And it must clearly show why it’s in the self-interest of the prospect to
read the ad.
This must be communicated quickly, because the reader won’t take the time to figure out what you’re trying to say.
Your headline can make or break
Andrew Byrne, one of the greatest copywriters and market strategists today points out:
“In England, advertising researcher Dr. Henry Durant made a study of thousands of advertisements. He broke them into groups—those with direct headlines and those with indirect headlines.
“The direct headlines immediately identified the product and frequently offered a benefit to the reader. The indirect headlines did not. They used teasers, puns, a play on words or said something completely unrelated to the product or its benefits.
“The advertisements with direct-benefit headlines were literally four times more effective than the advertisements with indirect headlines—400% more effective. That’s from a study of thousands of ads.”
If you must read the copy to understand what the ad is about, the headline is wrong. Here are some examples of strong, direct headlines from ads:
• “How I cured cancer...naturally!”
• “Forget everything you’ve ever heard about stocks, bonds, tax savings & precious metals!”
15 essential headline rules
Here are some of the critical rules that separate the winning ads from the losers:
1. Headline positioning. Your ad must position your product and its benefits for your target audience. Not the total readership of the ad. But only for those readers who are likely to respond to your offer when they see it.
2. Don’t be afraid of long headlines. Long headlines are often more effective than short headlines. In a long headline, you can better target your audience with specific benefits.
3. Put the “You” to work in the headline. For example: “How you can look younger and feel healthier in 30 days.”
4. Clearly state a benefit in your headline. For example: “Slash your 2006 taxes by 1/3.”
5. Use hot words such as: at last, announcing, now the secret of and new.
6. Use geography or occupation to build credibility. For example: “How one businessman from New York saved $10,000 on his travel expenses.”
7. Use an editorial headline (and copy approach). Neutrogena has done a splendid job of this with their advertising.
8. Use numbers. They give a feeling of reality. They are specific—that’s why an odd number is better than an even one (and particularly better than numbers that have been rounded off). An example: “Turn $9,575 into $24,311 in 2 years!”
9. Use powerful subheadlines. Make sure your subheads sell. Promise a benefit and you’ll increase your response.
10. Use a strong close. Be forceful and specific. Your prospect will respond more fully to firm directions. Never ask a question or fail to ask for a response now.
11. Give your prospect response options. Always allow for such options as: phone, mail, fax or credit card.
12. Give an incentive to respond. For leads or orders, the more generous your offer, the higher your return. The perceived value of an offer is critical to your success.
13. Use emotion and reason. Both consumer and business-to-business ads must create the desire to respond. The desire is emotional, but it must be built on a good, logical rationale that provides the motivation to act.
14. Create tension. To increase your response, use words such as: limited quantities; first come, first served or offer subject to change without notice.
15. Dramatize your story when possible. You can do this with testimonials, before and after photos, etc.
Now, here are design principles you should follow to maximize the effectiveness of your ad:
• One-color ads often generate greater response than two-color ads. Why? Readers associate black and white photos with news.
• Your visual may be more powerful if it relates to your key benefit, not the product itself. Your visual should use people in action. Never use line drawings; they will probably decrease response. Photos are more convincing.
• Always use a caption with your visual. It will be the most-read part of the ad.
• Highlight your toll-free number and use phone artwork.
• Use bullets, check marks and numbers to help break up copy.
• Avoid reverse type for any copy block of three words or more—it is harder to read. Reverse copy stands out, but will cut readership.
• Use color to help draw the eye to key sales points and your call to action.
• Use serif type—not sans serif, which doesn’t have the accents (or “feet”) on the edges of the letters. Serif type gets better response because it’s more readable.
• Type should be 10- to 12-point.
The design of your ad is critical to its success. A direct response ad’s purpose is not to be well designed, creative or even admired. If it sells, it’s a success. If it fails, it’s a terrible, costly waste.
In fact, if your design draws attention to itself, your prospect is thinking about your ad, not about your product.
David Ogilvy has said, “A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.”
Your order form can increase or decrease your response. Here are some principles:
• Always use a broken-line border, suggesting that the order form can be cut along the line and mailed or faxed.
• Always put it on the right-hand side, for right-hand placement.
• Always include your address and telephone number on the coupon.
• Always use a street address, not a post office box. A post office box alone is a credibility-killer.
• Always use a Positive Acceptance Statement: “Yes, I want to make $1,000,000 using your widget.”
• Always leave enough room for the prospects to fill out their names and addresses. You’ll lose orders if prospects can’t fill out the coupon properly.
• Always say, “Please print.”
How you place your ad can also affect your results. Consider the following for greater response:
• Use a right-hand page.
• Try pages 3–12 for best results. Exceptions: back cover, inside back cover and inside front cover.
• If your ad is black and white, insist that no color ad be on the same page.
• Place the ad on Tuesday–Thursday.
• Request that no other coupon ad be placed on the back side of your ad.
• Try to place your ad near a bind-in card, even if it’s not your bind-in card.
Creating awareness is not enough
Making your ad successful requires enough copy to help the prospect discover the self-interest in responding. It must have enough room for the copy to create excitement and result in a commitment to purchase. Therefore, long copy ads are often essential.
Editor’s note: Need higher response? Call me, Craig Huey at (310) 212-5727, fax at (310) 212-5773 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or write to Creative Direct Marketing Group at 21171 S. Western Ave., Suite 260, Torrance, CA 90501. Talk with me about how I can improve your response. I’ll start with a FREE, no-obligation critique.