This article is based on the quotes and highlights from the book Cashvertising: How to Use More Than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone by Drew Eric Whitman
The Life-Force 8
Human beings are biologically programmed with the following eight desires:
- Survival, enjoyment of life, life extension.
- Enjoyment of food and beverages.
- Freedom from fear, pain, and danger.
- Sexual companionship.
- Comfortable living conditions.
- To be superior, winning, keeping up with the Joneses.
- Care and protection of loved ones.
- Social approval
According to Haldeman-Julius, the two strongest appeals were sex and self-improvement.
The Nine Learned (Secondary) Human Wants
These are called secondary, or learned wants, and nine have been identified:
- To be informed.
- Cleanliness of body and surroundings.
- Expression of beauty and style.
Here’s the simple formula for desire, and the result it sets in motion: Tension → Desire → Action to Satisfy the Desire
In short, when you appeal to people’s LF8 desires, you create a drive that motivates them to take an action that will fulfill that desire as soon as possible.
Just be aware of these five things:
- People have eight basic wants—the LF8 (survival; food and drink; freedom from fear, pain, and danger; sexual companionship; comfortable living conditions; to be superior; care and protection of loved ones; and social approval).
- The strongest advertising appeals are based on these eight basic wants.
- The most effective way to create an appeal based on these eight wants is to write ad copy that causes your prospects to visually demonstrate your product or service inside their heads, sufficiently enough to build desire for the satisfaction of the want(s) that your product promises to provide...and then to choose your product to attain it.
- Now that you’ve got them wanting fulfillment, your next job is to influence them to believe that your product actually delivers what you say.
- They believe you. They want it. Yippee! Time to count your money, right? Wrong! You now have to push them to act.
How to Get Inside Their Heads: The 17 Foundational Principles of Consumer Psychology
Principle #1: The Fear Factor—Selling the Scare
Why does it work? In a word: stress. Fear causes stress. And stress causes the desire to do something.
Bottom line: if it’s possible to use fear to effectively sell a product or service, it means that inherent in that product or service is the possible resolution to that which is feared. If not, no matter how much fear you try to conjure up, your appeal will fail miserably.
The Four-Step Recipe for Inducing Fear
The fear appeal is most effective when:
- It scares the hell out of people.
- It offers a specific recommendation for overcoming the fear-aroused threat.
- The recommended action is perceived as effective for reducing the threat.
- The message recipient believes that he or she can perform the recommended action.
In order to craft an effective fear appeal, your ad must contain specific, believable recommendations for reducing the threat that are both credible and achievable.
The fear appeal is also more successful if the fears targeted are specific and widely recognized.
Your goal is not to create new fears, but to tap into existing fears, either those on the forefront of consumers’ minds, or those that require a little digging to uncover.
A common way fear is used to simulate action is via the use of deadlines and scarcity. Phrases and slogans such as limited offer, one-day sale, and while supplies last have the effect of scaring consumers into believing that unless they act now, they’ll miss a fantastic opportunity to save money, tapping into Human Secondary Want #9.
The deadline tactic follows the guidelines by offering the consumer the means to address the “threat” by rushing out to purchase before it’s too late.
Principle #2: Ego Morphing—Instant Identification
Your goal is to cause consumers to become so closely associated with the product’s image that it almost becomes a part of their own identity; thus, you’re “morphing” their ego to fit your product.
By representing your product through carefully chosen images and personalities, you can persuade your prospects that, by purchasing or using your wares, they’ll immediately become associated with these images and attitudes.
So think about your product. Does owning or using it suggest qualities that people would want to flaunt?
Principle #3: Transfer—Credibility by Osmosis
Transfer is a strategy that involves using symbols, images, or ideas—cues, if you will—commonly associated with people, groups, or institutions of authority or respect, in order to persuade your prospect that your product or service is in some way acceptably endorsed.
To simplify, here’s what happens. Your prospects: 1. See a symbol of credibility (logo, endorsement, and the like), and then
- question less of your sales argument.
Think about which person, persons, and organizations in your industry have a reputation that carries sufficient respect that if you got them to endorse your business, product, or service, you could capitalize on the transfer of credibility it would create.
Principle #4: The Bandwagon Effect—Give Them Something to Jump On
Three Types of Groups
- Aspirational—Groups to which you’d like to belong.
- Associative—Groups that share your ideals and values.
- Dissociative—Groups to which you do not want to belong.
The consumer’s purchase is based primarily on his or her sense of belonging, and not entirely on the merits of your product. The need for group membership is a strong psychological drive, and in its pursuit, most consumers will forego the need for an active, deep analysis of what you’re selling.
If seeking aspirational group influence—people your prospects aspire to be similar to—you must make sure your prospects can easily identify with them.
Your audience doesn’t want to be the guy or gal next door. They aspire to be similar to tour-winning legends Lance Armstrong, Miguel Indurain, or Eddy Merckx—three of the best cyclists of all time. Featuring pros such as these encourages your prospects to believe that, by using your cushy-soft seat, they can be more similar to their two-wheeled heroes
This can be done in two ways, either by
- closely associating your product with the target group through advertising that specifically appeals to the attitudes and values of that group, or by
- disassociating your product from other groups within society, in order to make it appear more accepted, or, in the cases of younger audiences, simply more “cool.”
Does your product lend itself to using the human need to belong appeal? If it does, don’t just think about ways to describe its features and benefits. Put at least equal effort into telling your prospects how buying your product makes them (aspirational), keeps them (associative), or helps them show the world that they’re not a part of a particular group (dissociative).
Principle #5: The Means-End Chain—The Critical Core
Your goal is obviously to sell your product or service. Using the Means-End Chain, you simply do it by shifting the consumer’s focus to your product’s ultimate value or benefit. I call it the “benefit of the benefit.”
Just remember, for most products, it’s not the product itself that people want, it’s the bottom-line benefit they’re buying.
Principle #6: The Transtheoretical Model—Persuasion Step by Step
Here are the stages, in a quick and easy nutshell
Precontemplation—People in this stage are either ignorant of your product’s existence—“What the heck is a Bloopo Burger?”—or they’re unaware they need it.
Contemplation—Prospects in this stage are aware of your product and have thought about using it. “Hmmm...I should check out those Bloopo Burgers someday.”
Preparation—This is the planning phase. Your prospect is thinking about buying from you, but needs more information about your product’s benefits and advantages. “I’d like to buy a Bloopo Burger...it sure looks good, but what the heck is in it? Is it healthier? Better tasting? What’s it cost?”
Action—Success! Your prospect has arrived at the coveted action, or purchase phase. “Here’s my credit card, gimme my damned Bloopo!”
Maintenance—A nice place for your prospects to be. In this phase, your product has become part of their everyday lives. They continue to buy your Bloopos without giving it a second thought. It’s their burger of choice. Simply put, when they want a burger, they buy a Bloopo.
Principle #7: The Inoculation Theory—Make Them Prefer You for Life
The Inoculation Theory is used to reinforce a consumer’s existing attitudes toward a product or service by presenting a “weak” argument that tricks the consumer into defending his position and therefore strengthening his attitude.
The three steps are:
- Warn of an impending attack.
- Make a weak attack.
- Encourage a strong defense.
One way advertisers use inoculation is by publicizing their competitors’ criticisms of their company, and turning them to their advantage in the form of weak attacks that—thanks to the Inoculation Theory—serve to reinforce and ensure their consumers’ loyalty.
Take a real hard look at what you’re selling. What do you do better, faster, easier? Inoculate your prospects by bringing these advantages to light and watch how you’ll win them over.
Principle #8: Belief Re-ranking—Change Their Reality
There are ways to change people’s beliefs about your product, the primary belief being that they don’t want or need it! One of the most effective of these methods works by switching the focus away from the attitudes themselves and onto the underlying beliefs.
Regardless of what technique you use, your prospects must remain unaware that you’re attempting to influence them. You want them to think they’ve made their own decision.
Principle #9: The Elaboration Likelihood Model—Adjust Their Attitude
The Elaboration Likelihood Model, or ELM, suggests there are two routes to attitude change: the central route and the peripheral route.
Here’s the difference: The central route: Persuading using logic, reasoning, and deep thinking. The peripheral route: Persuading using the association of pleasant thoughts and positive images, or “cues.”
Which method should you use? That depends on your product.
Consumers’ motivation tends to be higher when they’re considering products with “high personal relevance.
If you sell ink-jet paper, for example, you still want to state its size, color, weight, sheet quantity, and even the TAPPI Brightness Standard rating. If you have competitors—and most of us do—and your product is better than theirs in some way, for heaven’s sake, say it!
Attitudes developed using central route processing will last longer than those formed by the peripheral route. Simply put, logic and reason burn themselves into the brain far more deeply than good feelings created by visual cues or other emotion-stimulating catalysts.
Principle #10: The 6 Weapons of Influence—Shortcuts to Persuasion
Known by the mnemonic CLARCCS, Cialdini’s six cues are:
- Comparison: The power of your peers.
- Liking: The Balance Theory. “I like you...take my money!”
- Authority: Cracking the code of credibility.
- Reciprocation: What goes around comes around...profitably!
- Commitment/consistency: The “Four Walls” technique.
- Scarcity: Get ’em while they last!
Contrary to popular belief, men are most attracted to pictures of other men, and women to pictures of other women. Why? Psychologists say: Identification. All of us are interested primarily in ourselves; no one is more important to you than you.
What authority in your industry does your target market respect? Do whatever you can to get a testimonial or full-blown endorsement.
The “Four Walls” technique
Not to scare buyers away, but to box them in, cause them to take a stand, and make a request that would demonstrate their commitment to their stand.
You create an ad that poses four questions to your prospect, with each answer leading logically to the next, until, at the end of your ad, your prospect is all but committed to making the purchase.
The commitment/consistency cue says that if you take a stand on an issue, you must remain consistent with your beliefs. This is a powerful psychological tactic, and one that’s more effective when used in person, because the cue relies on social pressure as its engine.
The closing question—whatever it is—says, in effect, “Okay, you’ve declared your stance. Let’s see if you’re now going to support your own declared position.” To not do so is the ultimate in hypocrisy.
The idea is to elicit a string of “yes” responses from your prospect, each successive answer adding momentum, creating a snowball of interest and desire, and presenting your product as the path to fulfillment.
The most common manifestation of the scarcity principle is the use of lines such as one-day sale, limited offer, only while supplies last, or first come, first served, all which make the product appear in short supply, and therefore increases consumer interest. The success of this technique is apparent—every business uses it!
Principle #11: Message Organization—Attaining Critical Clarity
Whatever the strength of the message, it must always be well organized and easily and accurately understood. Simple is better, but simple isn’t necessarily easy.
Principle #12: Examples vs. Statistics—And the Winner Is...
Sure, the stats are nice to know, but when it comes to making the cash register go ka-ching, you should always place your money on the example. Why? In a word: emotion, the key to sales.
Get your prospects to imagine themselves using your product or service, they’re not going to take the next step and buy it. Featuring colorful examples causes what I call “self-demonstration,” and boosts your prospects’ desire to own and motivation to buy.
Research has shown that well-written examples:
- relate more closely consumer’s personal experiences, and
- are easier to comprehend because they require less mental effort to process
Principle #13: Message Sideness—Dual-Role Persuasion
Complimenting the other company on its fine products instantly makes your prospect think, “Hmmm...they’re being fair to the other firm, not bashing them, actually saying nice things, but simply pointing out that theirs is better.
Not only does it help persuade prospects to favor your product, but it also helps turn them against those of your rivals.
So be a good sport. Tell both sides. Compliment what’s good about your competition. It might even make you feel good. Then say why you’re even better. The persuasive impact resulting in additional sales will definitely make you feel great!
Don’t ever be afraid to tell people why they shouldn’t buy what you’re selling. Not only does it boost your credibility, but if they’re true prospects, it’ll also add fire to their desire.
Principle #14: Repetition and Redundancy—The Familiarity Factor
“People don’t start seeing your ad until you run it seven times.”
Repeating your message not only helps break down walls of disinterest, but with each repetition your ad also gets exposed to those who may not have noticed it the last time.
The aim of all advertising is to create marginal differences in consumer attitudes and perceptions. Through repetition, these small differences can build into larger differences, and can often tip the balance in favor of the advertised brand.
Run different variations of the same ad, and you’re taking advantage of the power of redundancy.
By presenting the same message in a different format and slightly different copy, you trick the reader into believing he’s seeing a new ad rather than a recycled version of the one he saw last week. It touches on what’s called multiple sources and multiple arguments.
Simply put, the more different sources that expose a subject to the same message, the more convinced the subject will become.
Principle #15: Rhetorical Questions—Interesting, Aren’t They?
This simple technique allows advertisers to make factual-sounding, possibly persuasive claims without having to support them with factual evidence or logical argument.
The idea is, if consumers aren’t thinking carefully about an advertiser’s message, slipping in a rhetorical question grabs their attention and encourages them to fire up some brain cells and think about the message.
Bottom line: The listener or reader makes a conscious attempt to consider the advertiser’s message, which increases the likelihood of successful persuasion.
The use of rhetorical questions may be beneficial for increasing message retention. Questions designed to emphasize a point, rather than to persuade, are likely to cause your audience to remember your message.
Principle #16: Evidence—Quick! Sell Me the Facts!
They all want to know the answer to the big question, “What’s in it for me?”
The foundational principle of advertising: telling your prospects the benefits of what you’re selling. They must, must, must be convinced that what’s in “your bag” is worth more than the money you ask for it, or the deal won’t happen.
Evidence can be facts, figures, testimonials, endorsements, research, charts, videos—you name it—as long as you, the advertiser, didn’t create it yourself.
In order to influence our peripheral-thinking friends, make sure you present your evidence in a clear and easy-to-grasp manner. Peripheral thinkers will not take the time to figure out what you’re trying to say. They’ll look at your data, and—boom!—make a decision as to what it means.
Principle #17: Heuristics—Serving Billions of Lazy Brains Daily
Heuristics pertain to the process of gaining (or discovering) knowledge, not by critical thinking and reasoning, but by intelligent guesswork.
The Length-Implies-Strength Heuristic is a principle that exerts an influence similar to evidence. It’s based on the assumption that a product or service is more likely to be viewed favorably if the ad is long and contains numerous, credible facts and figures. It causes your prospect to say, in effect, “Wow...look how much is here. It must be true.”
Loading your ads with testimonials is one way to tune your prospects’ brains to “Heuristic Channel #1.”
Another way is to write long, engaging copy. Not only does long copy give you more opportunities to persuade, but it also has the effect of causing prospects to believe that because there’s so much copy, there must be something to it! This is the very essence of the Length-Implies-Strength heuristic.
How many good reasons can you give prospects to buy your product or service? Simple lists are powerful.
Your prospect might be able to discount a few of the things you throw at them. But if you provide enough information, the Length-Implies-Strength heuristic will kick in and save the day. “Look how long this list is! Maybe a couple of these things aren’t completely factual, but this one looks right...and this one is cool...and hey, this benefit would be helpful.”
Ad-Agency Secrets: 41 Proven Techniques for Selling Anything to Anyone
Whenever you study someone who was successful at a task you’re preparing to attempt, you pave yourself an incredible shortcut to success.
Ad-Agency Secret #1: The Psychology of Simplicity
Using words effectively means we must write so our audience understands what we’re saying.
As simple as it is, my friend, you’ve just learned the #1 key to all effective written communication: Write so people can understand.
Longer sentences mean longer thoughts, which requires more mental effort to follow them. The more you ask people to think, the more likely you’ll lose them.
Prescription #1: Use Short, Simple Words
In school, we were taught to write as adults. To talk with “big” words.
Just be clear, natural, and simple.
Prescription #2: The Shorter Your Sentences, the Better
Rule of thumb: Express only one thought in a sentence, no more. Use your next sentence to say the next thing.
Prescription #3: The Short, Short Paragraph Trick
Here’s a great trick used by today’s top copywriters to keep people reading and moving ahead at a quick pace.
Here’s an example. Dear Bob, Would you like to know a secret way of making money by simply watching TV? I thought so. Now let me explain...
Limit your regular paragraphs to about four or five short sentences.
Prescription #4: Pile on the Personal Pronoun Personality
I want you to load your copy with pronouns, such as you, me, I, he, she, him, they, and them. Be especially generous with the words you and I.
Pronouns give your copy a warm, human flavor that people notice instantly. It helps turn your mass communication into personal communication, the most effective kind.
Paragraph leaders are a powerful way to increase reading speed and establish an upbeat tempo in your ads. The repetition increases the reader’s perception of volume, and, according the Length-Implies-Strength heuristic discussed in Chapter 2—can help boost credibility.
Other effective paragraph leaders are, “We Guarantee...,” “We Promise...,” “You’ll Receive...,” and similar.
Ad-Agency Secret #2: Bombard Your Readers With Benefits
The features are the attributes. The benefits are what you get from those attributes.
Loading your advertising with benefits is the key to all successful advertising.
Ad-Agency Secret #3: Put Your Biggest Benefit in Your Headline
Put the one thing that’s most important to them in the place where they’re most likely to see it: your headline.
Your headline should immediately select the audience you want to hook.
So does this mean that short headlines get higher readership? Yes. And studies confirm it. That’s because the number of words in a headline affects reading speed, and therefore affects how much of the headline is read.
Short headlines get higher readership.
- Always put your biggest benefit in your headline.
- If you can write two equally effective headlines, the shorter one will likely be read by more people, all other variables being the same.
Ad-Agency Secret #4: Crank up the Scarcity
As advertisers, we need to motivate people to take action right now.
We don’t want them to wait, or think about it, or put off the decision until the “later” that never comes. You want them to whip out their credit cards and order now.
And it’s not simply a matter of asking for the order—any good salesperson knows to do that. It’s a matter of getting your prospect to take action when the offer is presented to them. And you do it by creating the perception of scarcity with powerful deadlines.
Advertising is persuasion. And the most critical time to persuade is when you’re asking for action. Always feature deadlines to discourage response-killing human inertia.
Simply include standard phrases such as the following:
- Call Before April 5th
- Supplies Are Strictly Limited
- Offer Expires May 15
- Price Guaranteed Only Until August 3
- Offer Good Only Before 4 p.m.
- Seating Is Limited to 50 Participants
- NO Rain Checks Will Be Issued Good Only for the First 50 Callers
Ad-Agency Secret #5: 22 Psychologically Potent Headline Starters
Tt’s critical that your headline do two things:
- grab their attention, and
- motivate them to keep reading.
There are four important qualities that a good headline may possess. They are:
- Quick, easy way
The following 22 tested headline starters can be used for most any product or service. Simply replace the example wording with words relevant to your business:
- FREE: “Free Book Shows You How to Write Sneaky Advertising That Practically Forces People to Send You Money!”
- NEW: “Powerful New Seminar Teaches Flea Marketers the Power of ‘Flea-Psych’ to Drive People Into a Buying Frenzy”
- AT LAST: “At Last...A Bakery That Uses Only Organic Sugar, Flour, Milk, and Eggs!”
- THIS: “This New Invention Stops Any Attacker in His Tracks Without a Gun, Knife, or Black Belt in Karate.”
- ANNOUNCING: “Announcing the Hottest New Sandwich Craze From Southern California: The Malibu Crust Pocket!”
- WARNING! “WARNING! Some Dog Groomers Wrap a Noose Around Your Dog’s Neck!”
- JUST RELEASED: “Just Released: Psychologist’s Study Reveals Little-Known Speaking Patterns That Immediately Put Rude Salespeople in Their Place.”
- NOW: “Now You Can Stop Any Attacker Without Guns, Knives, or a Black Belt in Karate.”
- HERE’S: “Here’s How a 95-Pound Granny Made a 275-Pound Psychopathic Killer Cry Like a Baby for its Rattle....”
- THESE: “These Three Very Italian Men Make a Pizza to Kill For.”
- WHICH OF: “Which of These Hot Bodies Would YOU Like to Show Off?”
- FINALLY: “Finally...a Self-Improvement Seminar That Moves, Empowers, and Transforms You for Life!”
- LOOK: “LOOK! Now You Can Buy Cotton Candy Machines at Wholesale Prices.”
- PRESENTING: “Presenting the Easiest Way Ever Developed to Learn the Piano.”
- INTRODUCING: “Introducing the Only Water Ice Stand in Philly that Uses Real Fresh Fruit.”
- HOW: “How to Sing Like an American Idol in 90 Days or Less—Guaranteed.”
- AMAZING: “Amazing New DVD Lowers Your Blood Pressure by Just Watching It!”
- DO YOU: “Do You Know How to Stop Vicious Dog Attacks with the Push of a Button?”
- WOULD YOU: “Would You Trade $2 for Our Famous Brick-Oven Pizza?”
- CAN YOU: “Can You Be Sure Your Child Won’t Get Kidnapped?”
- IF YOU: “If You Hate Cleaning Your Pool, This Ad Brings Good News!”
- STARTING TODAY: “Starting Today You Can Dance 97% Better...If You Follow These Rules.”
Ad-Agency Secret #6: 12 Ways to Lure Readers Into Your Copy
Each of the following 12 examples uses the same headline as a spring-board for our variations.
The headline is:
Just Released! Psychologist’s Study Reveals Little-Known Speaking Patterns That Immediately Put Rude Salespeople in Their Place.
- Continue the Thought in the Headline: “You know the rude salespeople we mean. The ones with the big mouths who don’t understand the word no. The ones who push and push and won’t leave you alone....
- Ask a Question: “How would you handle yourself in a sticky situation like this?”
- Quote a Respected Authority: “According to communication psychologist R. Butler Sinclair, there’s no need for anyone to feel intimidated by the high-pressure tactics used by....”
- Give ’Em a Free Taste: “The next time you’re confronted by a pushy salesperson, do this: Wait until he is finished speaking. Then raise your left hand to your mouth and say, ‘You know, you really didn’t....’
- Challenge Them to Prove It Works: “Here’s what we want you to do. Read pages 8 and 9 of this incredible new book—no more. Then go to the dealership with the reputation for the most obnoxious and belligerent....”
- Start With a Story of Skepticism: “When we first received the manuscript from the author, we were skeptical. But some of us in the editorial office actually tried some of Sinclair’s tricks, and we were absolutely blown away.”
- Tell What Others Are Saying (Bandwagon Effect): “Nobody hates obnoxious salespeople more than I do. So when I first saw the ad for this book I though it was too good to be true. It is, in fact, the most powerful book I’ve ever read on dealing with rude coworkers, salespeople, and mothers-in-law.—Bob Manstreth, Philadelphia, Pa.”
- Play Reporter: “Philadelphia, PA—A New York psychologist has just released the findings of a seven-year study that explains how any man or woman can use the power of a new type of communication psychology to deal with obnoxious people.”
- Get Personal With You, You, You: “Have you ever been hassled by a salesperson who can’t take no for an answer? Do you hate when people push you around and manipulate you? Would you like to know a powerful new way to instantly put these obnoxious people in their place? A way that gives you the upper hand....”
- Tell a Dramatic Story: “According to communication psychologist R. Butler Sinclair, there’s no longer any need for anyone to feel intimidated by the high-pressure tactics used by....”
- Give Super-Detailed Specs: “This amazing new book—a hefty 8 1/2 × 11-inch leather-bound, hardcover beauty—is jam-packed with over 327 pages, 10 information-filled chapters, and 45 of the most effective new communication tools ever developed for....”
- Lure them with a Very Short First Sentence: “Don’t you hate it?” “It’s so annoying!” “It makes me sick.” “I can’t stand it!”
Ad-Agency Secret #7: 360 Degrees of Attention-Getting Power
Our goal isn’t to make our advertising look the way everyone else’s does. We want to stand out, don’t we?
Instead of the typical rectangle or square, have your ad set within a circular border.
Circular ads get more attention and yours will stand out—dramatically—from your “square” competition.
Ad-Agency Secret #9: Crush Your Competition With Extreme Specificity
One of the most powerful things you can do is educate your prospects about the specifics of your product or service. Once educated—assuming your product is at least as good as the competition—they’ll better appreciate what you’re offering.
Think...what interesting story can you tell people about your product or service? How can you educate them about what you do or how you do it?
Ad-Agency Secret #11: The Psychology of Typefaces
Headlines Longer Than Just a Couple of Words, Such As “FREE COOKIES!” Should Be Set in Initial Caps, a Combination of Upper-and Lower-Case Letters, As in This Sentence.
Results: The most preferred fonts were Arial and MS Sans Serif at 9.75 points.
Results: No reliable differences in reading speed or in error detection. However, the readers said they preferred the 12-point fonts.
- Subjects read Arial and Times New Roman faster than Courier, Schoolbook, and Georgia.
- Subjects read the 12-point fonts faster than the 10-point fonts.
- Subjects preferred all the fonts—except Century Schoolbook—over Times New Roman.
- The most legible fonts were Arial, Courier, and Verdana.
- At 10 points, participants preferred Verdana. Times New Roman was the least preferred.
- At 12 points, Arial was preferred and Times New Roman the least preferred.
- The preferred font overall was Verdana, and Times New Roman was the least preferred.
Bottom line: For easiest online reading, use Arial for 12-point text and larger. Smaller than 12 point? Verdana, but rarely go smaller than 10 point. For a more formal look, use Georgia. For older readers, use 14 point.
Ad-Agency Secret #14: The “Granny Rule” of Direct Mail
Remember: Advertising is a salesperson in print, a salesperson broadcasted to the masses.
Your sales letter is your salesperson. Think of it that way! It should be personal.
CA$HVERTISING Tip: It’s always a good idea to work the idea of ease and quickness into your first sentence. That’s because we live in a quick-fix society. People want ease and speed. If what you offer lends itself to these appeals, then use them.
When you can’t personalize, try using a salutation that connotes how your prospect will change after buying your product: “Dear Weekend Warrior,” or “Dear Soon-to-Be-Millionaire.” And please, never ever say “Dear Occupant”!
CA$HVERTISING Tip: Start your letter with a question. It’s an extremely effective device for getting people to read deeper.
Remember: The purpose of your first sentence and paragraph is to get people to read your second sentence and paragraph. And so on. Keep this in mind when you write so that your sentences flow smoothly into each other,
Tough talk: People expect that 99 percent of their mail will be trash. In fact, many people open their mail over a trash can. You have only seconds to grab their attention and stir their interest...or lose them forever.
AIDA to the Rescue
It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. It says that your #1 job is to grab people’s attention. Then you build interest. Next you stimulate desire. And finally you push your reader to take action.
Ad-Agency Secret #15: The Psychology of “Social Proof”
How do you get them? Ask! Simply write a letter (or e-mail) to your customers and say, “We want to make you famous!” Then tell them you want their honest opinions about your product or service. Explain that you’re putting together a new ad, brochure, Website, what have you, and you’d like to use their testimonial along with, if they’d like, their photo. In exchange for this, most folks will be happy with a few copies of the finished piece to show friends and family.
Remember: If you want people to respond to your offer, you have to make it as easy as possible for them! Don’t you be the lazy one!
Ad-Agency Secret #16: The Guillotine Principle
A head or face is the best attention-getter. Simply put a photo of someone’s head in your ad. The face/head should be looking directly at the reader.
Of course this depends upon what type of product or service you’re offering.
Smiling is generally preferable, but of course this depends upon what type of product or service you’re offering.
CA$HVERTISING Tip: Put your photo at the top of your ad and make your headline a quote from you.
Ad-Agency Secret #17: PVAs—The Easy Way to Boost the Power of Your Copy
Powerful visual adjectives. These PVAs produce clear, bright, high-impact visual images. They actually help your prospects demonstrate your products in their minds.
Remember: The more specific your words—described with PV’s—the clearer the pictures.
Even if your product or service is similar to your competitors’, you can still stand out by using this technique.
EXAMPLE #1: Cleaning Service
DON’T SAY: “Our expert cleaners will make your office sparkle like new.”
DO SAY: “We make your walls and floors hospital-bright, your restrooms sparkling and sanitized, your windows gleaming clean, and your carpets fluffy, fresh, and deodorized.”
Ad-Agency Secret #18: Directing Mental Movies
First, realize that all experience is made up of only these five factors—V-A-K-O-G:
- Visual (sight).
- Auditory (sound).
- Kinesthetic (feeling or emotions).
- Olfactory (smell).
- Gustatory (taste).
We call these elements “IRs”—internal representations—because they represent our experience of the world around us internally, in our heads. In fact, memory is just a blend of these elements-
To boost the effect of your words—no matter what kind of advertising you’re writing, be it ads, brochures, sales letters, flyers, e-mails, Websites, billboards, or radio or TV commercials—what you need to do is increase the strength of the representations in your prospects’ brains.
The lesson is simple: Unless you create sufficient internal representations in your prospects’ brains, you will insufficiently move them to mentally create their own IRs that ultimately cause them to pull out their wallets and buy what you’re selling.
Ad-Agency Secret #19: Battling Human Inertia
No matter how slick a salesperson, no matter how beautiful an ad, if they don’t cause people to take action, they’re both a lousy investment. An ad that only informs and doesn’t move people to buy is like a salesperson who can’t close.
Getting action requires two steps:
- Make it easy to act, and then
- ask for action.
You should offer several shipping options, from regular ground to overnight express (you could lose business if you don’t ship fast enough).
Gift-wrapping saves your customers time and effort on birthdays and holidays.
Offer a strong guarantee to quell their fear of loss.
People want more ease in their lives. Tell them how easy it is to buy from you.
Ad-Agency Secret #20: Establish Your Unique Selling Proposition
Ask yourself, “What’s unique about my offer? Am I the only one offering this plan, product, or service? What’s unique about me that I can exploit?”
Ad-Agency Secret #22: Authority Positioning
Begin to regard yourself as someone who has a mountain of valuable information to share with others. Simple, right? Unfortunately, low self-esteem keeps many people from taking even this first step. If you don’t think your knowledge is valuable, you’re doomed before you begin.
Make what you know available to the public in as many forms as possible. How? First, go to a local commercial photographer and have a headshot taken of yourself wearing attire that’s appropriate for your business. Then—and this is no time to be shy—begin printing it on all your sales materials. From brochures to contracts, get your face in front of the public. Put it in ads, e-mails, Web pages, sales letters, billboards! Then do a little self-publishing. Start an e-zine. Create several three- to 10-page reports on your subject in both hardcopy and PDF formats.
Give seminars, hold workshops, create educational products, write a book, do radio and TV interviews, blog your expertise! There’s no limit to the number of ways you can help others, which, in turn, can also do wonders for your business.
Ad-Agency Secret #23: A Sales Letter in Survey’s Clothing
What it does is capitalize on the fact that
- people love giving their opinion on things, and
- because they’re already returning their survey, it’s so easy for them to slip their payment into the postage-paid return envelope.
One great question to ask to get people to express themselves freely is, “If you were the owner of my business, what would you do differently?” You’ll be amazed at some of the great answers you’ll get.
Ad-Agency Secret #24: Power Your Ads With Pictures
Multiple studies show that the following types of photos attract the most attention..
Gallup found that readers preferred the following pictures, listed in order of preference:
- Children and babies.
- Mothers and babies.
- Groups of adults.
- Sports scenes.
Parade magazine once reported that the following pictures get the greatest attention:
- Mothers and babies.
- Food pictures.
We want love, to protect and care for our family, social acceptance, the drive to win, status, and food and drink.
Product-in-use shots add an additional 13 percent boost over product-only shots.
Ad-Agency Secret #25: Grab ’Em With Grabbers
What are grabbers? They’re little items you attach to the top of the first page of your sales letter that grab people’s eyes and make it nearly impossible for them not to read further, such as a penny, nickel, dime, quarter, or dollar bill.
Dear Scott, As you can see, I have attached a crisp one-dollar bill to the top of this letter. Why? To make a point. I’m going to show you—right here in this letter—how to save 100 of these bills (yes, $100.00) when you buy carpet for your new home.
For example, let’s say I’m a crafty wedding photographer and I’m able to get a hold of a mailing list of women about to get married.
Dear Louise, As you can see, I have attached a HORRIBLE wedding photo to the top of this letter. Why have I done this? To keep YOU from making the same tragic mistake this poor couple did. You see, Esther and Sam (the bride and groom) had no idea what to look for when they chose their wedding photographer. The result? A crying shame! The lighting was crummy. The people look stiff. The angles are amateurish. The color is inconsistent. And even their skin-tone is blotchy. Their one big day and all they have to show for it is a bunch of mediocre photos. Do YOU know how to avoid the mistake Esther and Sam made? I’ll tell you how, right here in this letter.
You’d continue your letter with some helpful tips and then describe the advantage of your services. Include a sheet of testimonials (featuring your best photos, of course), and extend your money-saving offer. A good-looking “savings certificate” would add a nice touch.
A printer? Attach a poorly printed brochure.
Ad-Agency Secret #26: Long Copy vs. Short
Direct response copy great Gary Halbert, an early mentor of mine, once wrote, “Copy can never be too long, only too boring!” How true.
Hundreds of studies and thousands of experiments have been done. Well-written long copy outsells short copy. No qualifications. No disclaimers. It simply does.
The fact is, if someone is a true prospect for your product, you wouldn’t believe how much well-written sales copy he or she will read. Don’t ramble with your copy, of course. Don’t write simply to fill up space or to impress people with your vocabulary. But do write enough to inform, build desire, convince, and motivate people to take action. The old expression, “the more you tell, the more you sell” is true...if you tell it right.
See what’s happening? The more ways you justify the purchase of your product, the more likely you’ll influence people to buy.
You pile on the benefits (Length-Implies-Strength), show pictures to help them see it, slather on the testimonials (social proof), and back it up with a warranty (to quell fear).
Some people need long copy to be convinced; others can decide with less information. Long copy satisfies both parties.
Ad-Agency Secret #27: Offer Testing
How else could you frame your offer? How about instead of 50 percent off the first visit, you say, “2 Visits for the Price of 1!” It’s the same thing as 50 percent off, isn’t it? But testing has shown that “Buy One Get One FREE” is more effective than saying 50 percent off. Free is a powerful word.
If your ads aren’t working, don’t throw in the towel and say “Nobody wants what I’m selling! Woe is me!” First try changing your headline, because this will make or break your ad in the first few seconds. Then check your price, because you could simply be out of line with the market. Then try a different offer.
Ad-Agency Secret #28: Survey Power
So do a survey! Ask people what they think about your product or service.
Remember: The secret of good survey response is ease! Make it super easy to reply. Give all multiple-choice answers if possible, and use semantic differential scales.
On a scale from 1 to 10, how likely are you to go out for pizza rather than make it yourself at home?
On a scale from 1 to 10, how much better is Franko’s pizza compared to store-bought frozen pizzas?
On a scale from 1 to 10, how likely are you to return to Franko’s Pizza within the next two weeks?
Ad-Agency Secret #29: Editorial Energizers
In editorial ads, never sound too enthusiastic about what you’re selling. News reporting is supposed to be objective, so if you get too carried away, too “hypey,” you’ll blow the whole effect.
Ad-Agency Secret #31: 7 Online Response Boosters
1. Best Frequency for E-Mailing
- 31 to 35 percent of e-mail recipients prefer one mailing per week;
- 18 percent said two to three days per week;
- 13 percent said once a month;
- 12 percent said daily;
- 10 percent responded two to three times per month;
- 6 percent said less than once a month;
2. Click-Through Rates—Studies Tell What to Expect
Studies show that click-through rates for e-mail marketing are declining. Currently you can expect anything from less than 1 percent in response to poorly crafted offers e-mailed to rented lists, to more than 20 percent for offers containing highly appealing incentives sent to your own customer list.
3. The HTML vs. Text Conundrum
According to Jupiter Research, HTML gets a 200 percent better response than plain text. The catch-22: Some people choose to block HTMLFORMATTED e-mails.
CA$HVERTISING Tip: Do an A-B Split. Compare the response you get from HTML versus text-only promo.
4. Best Way to Get Your E-Mails Opened
What affects your “open rate” most?
- Familiar sender (use your name if they’ll recognize it).
- Personal subject line (always include your recipient’s name).
- Offer of interest (precision-target your market).
Ad-Agency Secret #32: Multi-page Your Way to Success
You can’t just place one ad once and be done with it. Just the same as that TV commercial, your first ad might not catch your prospects’ attention.
Only a certain percentage will read any individual insertion. That’s the importance of frequency.
Ad-Agency Secret #33: Guarantees That Guarantee Higher Response
Every time your prospect thinks about buying, her head becomes a battleground for two opposing forces: skepticism and the desire to believe.
It’s up to you to throw more weight onto the desire to believe side in order to offset the amount of skepticism she now experiences.
Including a strong guarantee helps lighten the skepticism side and press down on that desire side. Sometimes it’s all you need to clinch the sale.
Longer guarantees (six months, one, five, 10 years, lifetime) give prospects confidence in the product and avoid the “beat the clock” mindset of using the product and sending it back within the short allotted time.
CA$HVERTISING Tip: Offer the longest, strongest guarantee in your industry. (Your competition will hate you for this.) Such a guarantee conveys your confidence in what you sell, which in turn gives prospects the confidence to give you their money. As a bonus, it causes potential buyers to question your competitors’ weak—or absent!—guarantee.
A well-crafted guarantee isn’t an afterthought. It’s a damned powerful sales tool—one of your most important, especially if your competitors’ guarantee is weak by comparison. Show off your guarantee, don’t hide it!
Ad-Agency Secret #37: Consumer Color Preferences and How Color Affects Readership
The number-one preference for most people tested is blue, with red a close second, then green, violet, orange, and yellow, ranked exactly in that order. Look at your current sales materials—online and off—and see if they reflect these worldwide findings.
Both men and women, except that men put orange in fifth place and yellow in sixth, whereas women put yellow in fifth place and orange in sixth.
While blue goes up in preference, yellow goes down, and continues to do so through as the individual ages. Preference for red, however remains high.
Ad-Agency Secret #38: The Psychology of Pricing
Odd-even pricing theory says that prices ending in odd amounts such as 77, 95, and 99 suggest greater value than prices rounded up to the next whole dollar. $9.77 seems like a better deal than $10.00.
Prestige pricing, by contrast, says that if you want something to be perceived as higher quality, you use only rounded whole numbers when pricing. For example, $1,000.00 suggests higher quality than $999.95, simply because we’ve been conditioned to interpret fractional pricing as suggestive of value.
Psychologists say that
- fractional pricing suggests that the seller has calculated the lowest possible price, thus the odd number, and
- we ignore the last digits rather than mentally rounding up. Doing so allows us to justify a purchase that may be teetering on the threshold of affordability.
What about prices ending in 95? Are they as effective as 99? Research shows they’re not. Likewise, 49, 50, and 90 are also not suggestive of low price. But evidence shows that prices ending in 79, 88, and 98 do convey value.
Ad-Agency Secret #41: Give Yourself a “Cleverectomy”
Bottom line: In advertising, it’s not clever to be clever.
Hot Lists: 101 Easy Ways to Boost Your Ad Response
22 Response Superchargers
- FORGET style—sell instead!
- SCREAM “Free Information!”
- WRITE short sentences and keep them reading.
- USE short, simple words.
- WRITE long copy.
- BOIL it down; cut out the fluff!
- STIR up desire by piling on the benefits.
- SHOW what you’re selling—action shots are best.
- GET personal! Say: you, you, you.
- USE selling subheads to break up long copy.
- PUT selling captions under your photos.
- WRITE powerful visual adjectives to create mental movies.
- SELL your product, not your competitor’s.
- DON’T hold back, give them the full sell now!
- ALWAYS include testimonials!
- MAKE it ridiculously easy to act.
- INCLUDE a response coupon to encourage action.
- SET a deadline to break inertia.
- OFFER a free gift for quick replies.
- SAY the words Order Now!
- OFFER free shipping.
- BOOST response 50 percent or more with a “Bill Me” or credit option.
9 Ways to Convey Value
- SCREAM “Sale!”
- GIVE them a coupon.
- DIMINISH the price: “Less than a cup of coffee a day.”
- EXPLAIN why the price is low: “Our boss ordered too many!”
- AMORTIZE it: “Just $1.25 a day.”
- BOOST the value: Tell what it’s worth, not only what it costs.
- TELL how much others have paid (and we’re happy to do so!).
- CREATE a sense of scarcity with deadlines.
- EMPLOY psychological pricing.
13 Ways to Make Buying Easy
- GIVE your street, e-mail, and Web address.
- GIVE your phone number.
- PROVIDE street directions and parking advice.
- SAY “It’s Easy to Order...”
- ACCEPT phone orders.
- ACCEPT mail orders.
- ACCEPT online orders.
- ACCEPT fax orders.
- ACCEPT credit cards.
- ACCEPT personal checks.
- GET a toll-free phone number.
- INCLUDE a long, strong guarantee—longer than your competition’s.
- OFFER installment payments for products more than $15 (“3 easy payments of just $10.99”), shown to boost response 15 percent.
11 Ways to Boost Coupon Returns
- TELL them in the headline or subhead to return the coupon.
- SAY “Buy 1 Get 1 Free!” instead of “50% Off.”
- USE a big “FREE!” at the top of your ad.
- TELL what the coupon brings; say it again inside the coupon itself.
- SHOW what the coupon brings with a small photo or illustration.
- USE a bold coupon border.
- SET a hard (firm date) or soft deadline (“The First 100 People...”).
- PROVIDE check-off boxes to get people involved.
- SAY “Valuable Coupon” at the top.
- GIVE sufficient room for fill-ins.
- POINT to the coupon with bold arrows.
46-Point “Killer Ad” Checklist
- [ ] Does it feature your product’s biggest benefit? (The #1 most important rule.)
- [ ] Is it a real grabber? Does it elicit an emotional response ?
- [ ] Does it use any of the 22 Psychologically Potent Headline Starters shown in Chapter 3?
- [ ] Is it significantly larger than your body copy? Boldfaced too?
- [ ] Is it powerful enough to get people to read your body copy?
- [ ] Does it make some kind of offer?
- [ ] Is it authoritative, and not wimpy?
- [ ] Is the headline set in initial caps? (This Is Initial Caps.) Use ALL CAPS only if your headline is short—about four to five words or so.
- [ ] Is it in quotes? This can boost reading 25 percent.
Body Copy: First Sentence
- [ ] Are you using one of the dozen body copy jump-starters shown in Chapter 3?
- [ ] Does it naturally flow from the headline?
- [ ] Does it get right into the benefits for the reader, instead of bragging about your company?
- [ ] Does it almost force them to read the second sentence?
- [ ] Is you one of the first few words?
Body Copy: General
- [ ] Does it focus on how the reader will benefit?
- [ ] Does it tell your readers why they should buy from you, rather than from a competitor who offers the same product/service?
- [ ] If your product or service is exciting, does your ad sound exciting?
- [ ] Does it progress in a logical, methodical way?
- Get attention.
- Stimulate interest.
- Build desire.
- Offer proof.
- Ask for action.
- [ ] Are you trying to sell only one product at a time? (This is best. However, some businesses, such as: delicatessens and furniture stores, can get away with more. Those are more similar to catalog ads: “Here’s everything we got.”)
- [ ] Do you use selling subheads to break up long copy blocks to make them easier on the eye? [ ] Is the copy colorful, sprinkled with power visual adjectives where appropriate?
- [ ] Is it believable? (Not overblown or ridiculous.) [ ] Is it respectful of the reader and not insulting to his or her intelligence?
- [ ] Is it emotional? Does it create emotion (positive or negative)?
- [ ] Do you use the principle of extreme specificity?
- [ ] Are your words, sentences, and paragraphs short? Simple words?
- [ ] Are your printed ads, sales letters, brochures, and such set in a serif typeface, such as Schoolbook? Is your Web copy set in a sans-serif typeface such as Arial or Verdana?
- [ ] Do you tell your readers what you want them to do in a super-simple way?
- Clip this coupon.
- Bring it to our store by August 21.
- Save 50%.
- [ ] Do you outright ask for the sale?
- [ ] Did you set a deadline, if appropriate? (Most of the time it is!)
- [ ] If you have a lot of benefits to offer, do you list them in bullet or numbered form?
- [ ] Do you use testimonials? If you don’t have them, get them!
- [ ] Is your business name and phone number large and instantly noticeable?
- [ ] Did you include your logo? (Use it all the time—the more often people see it, the more brand equity it builds.)
- [ ] Do you give directions, maps, or landmarks? (They may be more necessary than you think.)
- [ ] Did you key your ad to better track responses?
Layout and Design
- [ ] Did a professional designer produce your ad? (Not a layout person!)
- [ ] Is your headline big and bold?
- [ ] Is the headline broken at the right words? For example:
WRONG WAY: Now You Can Throw Away Your Glasses and Enjoy 20/20 Vision Again!
RIGHT WAY: Now You Can Throw Away Your Glasses and Enjoy 20/20 Vision Again!
- [ ] Is the ad easy to read? Is there a focus? (The eye should naturally be pulled to certain areas first, not jump around.)
- [ ] Is there sufficient white space? Did you wrap it in white?
- [ ] Did you indent your paragraphs? This makes reading easier.
- [ ] Is the number of separate elements kept to a minimum? (Don’t have a million little tint blocks with type, three bursts, two blocks of bullets, a corner flag, and four reverse-type panels!)
- [ ] Do you use art (photos or illustrations) relevant to your sales message? (Please, no babies for steel-belted tire ads!)
- [ ] Did you use a minimum number of typestyles? (One or two; three max! Unless a professional designer recommends it in a unique situation.)
- [ ] Do you feature a picture of a person looking at you? (It’s one of the most powerful ways to grab people’s attention.)