Marketing Mastery: Twelve secrets for creating killer ads

Home Columns Marketing Mastery: Twelve secrets for creating killer ads

Nov. 18/25 2013; Volume 27/number 15

By Jim Armstrong

(Third of three parts)

Jim Armstrong

Floor dealer: The newspaper ad guy says you’ve got to run an ad at least seven times before people start to respond.

Jim: If you run an ad and no one responds, do you know what will happen if you run the ad seven more times?

Floor dealer: What?

Jim: People won’t respond seven more times.Would you instruct members of your sales team to simply say to prospects, “Acme Floors is No. 1 in customer satisfaction, serving the Twin Cities for 50 years” or use other common slogans?  If not, then why would you say these things in your ads? You need to think of your promotions as “salesmen in print.” They are an important part of your sales team and will do a ton of selling for you if you use them correctly.

With that in mind, let’s continue with secret No. 7.

Secret No. 7: Drama

It’s important to “wow” your prospects, to engage them, to get them to notice and separate you from the competition. Using drama in your website and ads will help you do this. Drama can include before and after photos of your work, testimonials, a video of you interviewing a customer (post online) or case studies (how you solved a problem for a customer).

Secret No. 8: Risk reversal

People are very careful about spending money on a large purchase; they want to be sure they don’t wind up making costly mistakes. Use big, bold guarantees to separate your store from everyone else’s and remove any “risk” the prospects may perceive. Replacement guarantees and installation warranties are a good way to start.

Secret No. 9: Offer

An offer should spell out exactly what to do and exactly what consumers get for doing it.  “Visit our showroom” is not an offer. “Call or visit now to get your floor, spa and golf package!” is an offer.

Secret No. 10: Deadline/call to action

A concrete, bold deadline will light a fire under your prospects and compel them to respond. Be very specific with your deadline; don’t say, “Offer expires soon.” Instead say something like, “You must call or visit by Friday, Dec. 7, to get the floor, spa and golf package.”

Secret No. 11: Use a P.S.

Some prospects won’t read every word of your marketing message and will skip to the end to get to the bottom line; the P.S. is for those people. Use the P.S. to restate the offer, deadline, one or two key benefits, or a point that needs emphasis. This strategy mostly applies to long-form sales letters, but it can also work with postcards, flyers, and online sales pages.

Secret No. 12: Secondary response mechanism

Sometimes prospects will not want to call or visit your store immediately out of fear of being pressured. Therefore, it’s often a good idea to include alternate methods to get more information, which helps build trust. Some secondary response mechanisms include your website (especially if it’s a direct response site), an opt-in for a free report or consumer’s guide, or a testimonial hotline.

By implementing the 12 secrets in this series, you’ll be able to dramatically increase the effectiveness of your advertising without increasing your costs.

Send Me Your Feedback!  Do you have a sales or marketing question you’d like to have answered? What topics would you like to see covered in FCNews? Email me at I’d love to hear from you.

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