Why Some Ads Fail Miserably While Others Succeed
The voice on the other end of the
phone was tense and impatient. It was a prospective client calling. After
we introduced ourselves, he got right to the point: "Our advertising isn't
working and we need some help."
Who I was talking to doesn't matter very much, because it could have been
almost any of my prospects before they start working with me. That's because,
statistically, most advertising doesn't work -- if by "work" you mean, bring
in new business. Think about your own ads. Even if they already generate
leads or create sales for you, don't you have the sneakin' suspicion they
could be working a lot better?
Here are two reasons why most ads don't work at all -- or if they work, why
they deliver far less business than they could:
1. Most ads don't get the attention of your prospects. This is pretty basic.
It is physically impossible for prospects to contact you unless they know
about you, and if you're counting on them to find out about you from your
advertising, then step one is for your ad to get your prospects' attention.
Unfortunately, some ads actually do get attention, but
2. These ads get the attention of your prospect in the wrong way. For an
ad to generate a qualified lead or create an immediate sale, it must start
off on the right foot. That "right foot" sets the right tone and invites
a qualified prospect to call you. I just saw an ad in Newsweek that still
has me wondering what it's about and why someone spent tens of thousands
of dollars on it. (Bet it wasn't their own money.)
The ad shows a boy on a bicycle flying through the air, out in the wilderness.
The headline, in a semicircle, says, "They will always fall before they fly."
Since I'm not a kid and I'm not a parent, it doesn't do much for me.
But wait -- even if I were a parent or a kid, I still don't think this ad
is going to sell me on anything that would make the advertiser any money.
If I were a kid, the only thing this ad could sell me on is taking these
kind of risks to annoy my parents. And if I were a parent, the only thing
I can imagine this ad would sell me on is making sure my kid never rides
his mountain bike in hilly terrain -- since, obviously, the kid in the picture
is on a collision course with certain death.
I've got to hand it to this ad in one department -- it's interesting. It
got my attention. But that's as far as it got.
The Headline's the Thing
Let's get off this negative track and look at some ads that I am certain
are making money. These are not from a glossy national magazine, but small
ads from today's local newspaper. (By the way, small ads that run in the
newspaper are usually paid for by the person who wrote them. And these ads
get to the point and are likely to be profitable. Hmmm...I wonder if I'm
noticing a trend here...)
All I'm going to show you are the headlines of these ads. But I promise you,
the headlines are all you need to see. Tell me if you can guess what each
ad is about, and who its target market is:
1. "Lose 3-5 Pounds Per Week With the System Proven by Over 90,000 Successful
2. "Up to 40% Savings on Heating and Cooling Costs With a (Brand Name) Foam
3. "Men and Women -- Remove Unwanted Hair Today!"
Now, I know what you're thinking. Not very clever. Not very hip. In fact,
those headlines are downright boring!
Hmmm. I have two things to say about that. First, if you have tried everything
under the sun to lose 40 pounds and you are frustrated to the point of tears,
then headline number 1 isn't that boring to you. (And I would say the same
regarding people in the target market for headlines 2 and 3.)
The second thing I want to say is, yes, and it's also pretty boring to stand
in line at the bank waiting to make a large deposit into your business checking
account. But you know what? Once you've gotten past that boredom barrier,
it's actually sort of nice. You know?
And here's some interesting news: A good headline on your ad will get you
90% of the way from the agony of defeat to the ecstasy of advertising success
-- so you can deal with weighty issues like the boredom barrier and what
to do with all that money.
About the Author:
David Garfinkel has been described as, "the world's greatest copywriting
coach." He's a successful results oriented copywriter and the author of
Headlines That Make You Rich, which shows you how proven money-making
headlines customized for your business can increase your profits by 1700%.