Iâ€™ve worked in the realm of market
ing and advertising for over a year now. As you would expect, writing advertisements and other marketing pieces has caused me to notice more advertisements and pay more attention to how their various parts work together: fonts, images, headlines, body, call to action. Good ads feature attention-grabbing headline, valuable information in the body built around benefits to the consumer, and a strong call-to-action at the end.
Unlike my brother-in-law, I donâ€™t build rockets. Good ads are simple creatures with one purpose. In his seminal work on advertising, Tested Advertising Methods, John Caples quotes John W. Blake: â€œThere is just one justification for advertising: Sales! Sales! Sales!â€
An average American sees over 3000 ads a day. We conditioned to ignoring ads.
Headlines are the most important part. If you have lousy headlines and pretty pictures, youâ€™ve got nothing. A good headline accomplishes three objectives all at once with a handful of words:
1)Â Â Â Speak to the self-interest of your target audience
Example: â€œSave $30 a month with Comcastâ€
2)Â Â Â Promise to convey new, relevant information
Example: â€œAnnouncing: New Deals at Comcast save you $30 a monthâ€
3)Â Â Â Pique curiosity
Example: â€œFind out how Comcastâ€™s new deals can save you $30 a monthâ€
Most ads fail because they try to be too clever, have obscure or boring headlines, or depend upon a persistent reader to overlook bad writing and logical disconnects.
Consider the following picture that I took with my cell phone on a subway train in Boston:
The headline reads, â€œLosing the American Dream? Take the first step.â€ Very interesting.
So what youâ€™re telling me is that if I call MortgageHelpNow.org, then youâ€™ll help me lose my house even faster. Where do I sign up?
Remember, someone got paid to write this garbage. The writer overlooked all three aspects of a good headline.
I love bad advertisements the way I love Steven Seagal movies. I laugh so I don’t vomit.
They both remind me why good writing matters.
If youâ€™ve seen any heinous ads recently, Iâ€™d love to hear about them in the â€œCommentsâ€ section below.