Michael Von Irvin

AUTHOR OF "THE GREATEST MARKETER IN THE WORLD"

Write A Good Ad Even If You Failed High School English

A must read for anyone working in sales, marketing, advertising, copywriting, or anyone who just wants to improve a brand, resume or personal image.The Following Article was written with the permission of my friend and world renowned advertising professional, copywriter, and author Bob Bly.

Bob Bly has written over 80 books and countless articles. He is a leader in the copywriting advertising field. – Michael Von Irvin

Click Here For Michael Irvin’s Book

How To Write A Good Advertisement

Bob Bly

How To Write A Good Advertisement

To define what constitutes good print advertising, we begin with what a good print ad is not.

  • It is not creative for the sake of being creative
  • It is not designed to please copywriters, art directors, agency presidents or even clients.
  • Its main purpose is not to entertain, win awards or shout at the readers, “I am an ad. Don’t you admire my fine writing, bold graphics and clever concept?”

In other words, ignore most of what you would learn as a student in any basic advertising class or as a trainee in one of the big Madison Avenue consumer ad agencies.

Okay. So that’s what an ad shouldn’t be. As for what an ad should be, here are some characteristics shared by successful direct response print ads:

  • They stress a benefit. The main selling proposition is not cleverly hidden but is made immediately clear. Example: “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
  • They arouse curiosity and invite readership. 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.
  • They 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.
  • They talk to the reader. Why are so many successful control ads written by direct response entrepreneurs rather the top freelance copywriters and direct response agencies?

“My theory is that when people see a non-direct response ad, the know it’s just a reminder-type ad and figure they don’t have to read it.”

My theory is that when people see a non-direct responsead, they know it’s just a reminder-type ad and figure they don’t have to read it.

Because, although these entrepreneurs may not be professional writers, they know their product, their audience and what holds their audiences’ interest. And that is far more important than copywriting technique or style.

  • They are 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 or requirement.

An opposite style, ineffectively used by many “professional” agency copywriters, is to reduce everything to the simplest common denominator and assume the reader is completely ignorant. But this can insult the reader’s intelligence and destroy your credibility with him.

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  • They have a strong fee offer. Good ads contain a stronger offer. They tell the reader the next step in the buying process and encourage him to take it NOW.

All ads should have an offer, because the offer generates immediate response and business from prospects who are ready to buy now or at least thinking about buying. Without an offer, these “urgent” prospects are not encouraged to reach out to you, and you lose many potential customers.

In addition, strong offers increase readership, because people like ads that offer them something – especially if it is free and has high perceived value.

Writers of image advertising may object, “But doesn’t making an offer cheapen the ad, destroy our image? After all, we want awareness, not response.” But how does offering a free booklet weaken the rest of the ad? It doesn’t, of course. The entire notion that you cannot simultaneously elicit a response and communicate a message is absorb and without foundation.

  • They are designed to emphasize the offer.

Graphic techniques such as “kickers” or eyebrows (copy lines above the headline), bold headlines, liberal use of subheads, bulleted or numbered copy points, coupons, sketches of telephone, toll-free numbers set in large type, pictures of response booklets and brochures, dashed borders, asterisks, and marginal notes make your ads more eye-catching and response-oriented, increasing readership.

Why? My theory is that when people see a non-direct response ad, they know it’s just a reminder-type ad and figure they don’t have to read it. But when they see response-type graphic devices, these visuals say to the reader, “Stop! This is a response ad! Read it so you can find out what we are offering. And mail the coupon – so you can get it NOW!”

  • They are clearly illustrated. Good advertising does not use abstract art or concepts that force the reader to puzzle out what is being sold. Ideally, you should be able to understand exactly what the advertiser’s proposition is within five seconds of looking at the ad. As John Caples observed a long time ago, the best visual for an ad for a record club is probably a picture of records.

At about this point, someone from DDB will stand up and object: “Wait a minute. You said these are the characteristics of a successful direct response ad. But isn’t general advertising different?”

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Maybe. But one of the ways to make your general advertising more effective is to write and design it as a direct response ad. Applying all the stock-in-trade techniques of the direct marketer (coupons, toll-free numbers, free booklets, reason-why copy, benefit-headlines, informative subheads) virtually guarantees that your advertisement will be better read – and get more response – than the average “image” ad.

I agree with Howard Ruff when he says that everything a marketer does should be direct response. I think the general advertising people who claim that a coupon or free booklet offer “runs” their lyrical copy or stark, dramatic layout are ineffectual artists more interested in appearance and portfolios than results.

Robert Bly is a freelance copywriter specializing in business-to business and direct response advertising. He writes ads, brochures, direct mail packages, and sales letters for more than 75 clients nationwide including Prentice-Hall, Grumman Corporation, Sony, Online Software, Digital Linguistix, and Philadelphia National Bank. He is also the author of 80 books including The Copywriter’s Handbook (Dodd, Mead). Bly can be reached at 31 Cheyenne Drive, Montville, NJ 07045, Phone: 973-263-0562, Fax: 973-263-0613, www.bly.com

B-T-B Copy Clinic by Robert W. Bly 

Or Michael Von Irvin

7 ways to create business publication

advertising that gets results

How do you create an industrial or trade ad that gets attention, wins high readership scores, and generates a steady flow of valuable inquiries that convert easily to sales?

Here are some ideas, based on study (conducted to gather material for my book, Ads That Sell) of some advertisements that have proven successful in the marketplace:

1. Put a benefit in the headline.

The most successful ad I ever wrote (which was the number one inquiry producer in four consecutive insertions) had the headlines:

HOW TO SOLVE YOUR EMISSIONS

PROBLEMS…

… at half the energy cost on conventional

venturi scrubbers.

The headline combines a powerful benefit (“half the energy cost”) with the promise of useful information (“how to”) addressed directly at the reader’s specific problem (“solve your emissions problems”).

2. Ask a provocative question.

My friend Bob Pallace wrote an ad that generated an immediate $1 million increase in billings for his ad agency in Silver Spring, Maryland. The headline was:

ARE YOU TIRED OF WORKING FOR YOUR AD AGENCY?

The ad ran only one time in each of three magazines (High-Tech Marketing, Business Marketing, Inc.) and immediately brought in five new clients.

3. Be direct.

An ad agency asked me to write an ad to generate sales leads for a client that repairs and restores old surgical tables. When they sent me their literature, I used the headline on their brochure as the headline for the ad.

It read:

SURGICAL TABLES REBUILT

Free Loaners Available

The ad was successful, and demonstrates that when you are the only one advertising a particular product or service, or when the nature of your offer is hard to grasp, direct headlines can be extremely effective. Another direct headline I like appeared in an ad running in Network World:

LINIK 8 PCS TO YOUR MAINFRAME

ONLY $2,395

Donald Reddy, president of the firm, said the ad was extremely effective in generating a small but steady flow of highly qualified sales leads.

4. Give the reader useful information.

One way to increase readership is to promise the reader useful information in your headline, then deliver it in your ad copy.

For an ad offering business people a book on how to collect overdue bills, Milt Pierce wrote this headline:

7 WAYS TO COLLECT YOUR.

UNPAID BILLS.

New from Dow Jones-Irwin…

A Successful and Proven Way

to Get Your Bills Paid Faster.

The information-type ad is highly effective in business-to-business advertising. Why? Because the reason business people read trade journals is for information, not entertainment, and such ads to that valuable store of data.

5. Offer a free booklet, brochure, or information kit.

Offering something tangible – a brochure, booklet, information kit, videotape, audiocassette, research report, checklist, or other material the reader can send for – has never failed to increase response for me in nearly a decade of ad writing.

At the end of your ad, put in a subhead offering the material (for example: “Get the facts – FREE!”). Then describe your brochure or booklet, show a picture of it, and explain what the reader must do to get it.

If you can add something to a sales brochure to make it of lasting value, so much the better. More people will request your piece and more people will keep it.

6. Use a coupon.

Coupons visually identify your ad as “direct response,” causing more people to stop and read it (because they know that coupon ads usually offer free things of value). If the ad is one-third page or less, put a dashed border around the entire ad to create the feel and appearance of a coupon. Copy them instructs the reader. “For more information, clip this ad and mail with your business card to {company name, address}.”

7. Use a headline with multiple parts:

A headline does not have to contain just one sentence or phrase set in one uniform type size. Often, you can create a more eye catching and effective headline using what I essentially a three-part headline.

The first part, or kicker, is an “eyebrow or short line that goes in the upper left corner of the ad, either straight or at a slant. On good use of the kicker is to select a specific type of reader for the ad (e.g., “Attentio COBOL Programmers”). Another effective technique is to let the reader know you are offering something free (“Special Free Offer – See Coupon Below”).

Next, set in larger type, comes your mail headline, which states your central benefit

makes a powerful promise. Then, in the subhead, you expand on the benefit or reveal the specific nature of the promise. Examples:

$500 A DAY WRITER’S UTOPIA

Here’s the breakthrough offer that opens

up a whole new world for writers or those

who hope to become writers:

FOR HIGH SPEED HIGH PERFORMANCE

DATA INTEGRATION, LOOK INTO MAGIG

MIRROR. Now you can move data instantly from

one program to another right from your PC screen.

If your headline is designed to arouse curiosity or grab attention and does so at the expense of clarity, then be sure to make nature of your proposition immediately clear

in a subhead or within the first sentence. Otherwise you will lose the interest of the reader whose attention you worked so hard to gain.

Robert Bly is a freelance copywriter specializing in business-to business and direct response advertising. He writes ads, brochures, direct mail packages, and sales letters for more than 75 clients nationwide including Prentice-Hall, Grumman Corporation, Sony, Online Software, Digital Linguistix, and Philadelphia National Bank. He is also the author of 80 books including The Copywriter’s Handbook (Dodd, Mead). Bly can be reached at 31 Cheyenne Drive, Montville, NJ 07045, Phone: 973-263-0562, Fax: 973-263-0613, www.bly.com

I am very grateful to Bob Bly for allowing me to publish this article. Please continue reading below. – Michael T. Irvin

What do you think?

How do you determine what is a good advertisement?

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Michael Von Irvin

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