10 Hot Tips For Creating Advertising That Really Pulls

TIP #1: First and foremost you need a strong headline.

People who write mail order ads for a living have learned over the years that the headline is the most important part of an advertisement. The headline is what catches or hooks the reader's attention. And, really, it's the same for radio or TV ads: your opening statement has to “hook” the listener and pull them into the rest of the ad.

Following are the best types of headlines according to many studies that have been done by direct-response marketers. These individuals create ads or mailing pieces that ask for an immediate response - “call (800) 555-555.” Or “Send your check or money order to...”

Direct-response marketers eat or starve in direct ratio to the number of responses to their ads or mailers. They know what pulls and what doesn't. And they are always testing their ads.

Benefit Headline -- “What's in it for me? What benefit or advantage will I get by responding to your ad?” People buy people benefits , not product features.


“Earn Extra Money At Home... In Your Spare Time”
“Reduce Fat”
“Protect Your Property”
“Get Better Gas Mileage”

Other examples of benefits are: save money, feel better, look better, have more self confidence, acquire a new skill, avoiding negatives (avoid worry, drudgery, discomfort, etc.)

Overall, benefit headlines are the best. The techniques of writing a good headline and the topics may change with time. But the basic sales appeal of benefit headlines is ONGOING.

News Headline -- This gives news about a new product or announces a sale or the latest model, etc.

"At last! Our ‘2002 Models Are Here!"
"Announcing ... A Car Battery That Lasts A Lifetime!"
"New UFO Evidence! -- Abductees Take Their Case To Court"

Storytelling Headline -- This can intrigue people because it promises to lead them into a story. Stories are interesting. “How I Went From Bankruptcy To Financial Security In Less Than Two Years.” This headline also has an implied benefit: financial security.

Advice Headline -- The heading of this report is an advice headline. It gives tips or advice. Another example: “7 Tips For Lowering Your Fuel Bill.” (Also has a benefit).

Curiosity Headline -- “Do You Make These Mistakes With Your Employees?”

Testimonial Headline -- These can be very powerful. They have the added credibility of a third-party endorsement.


“I earned $40,000 in six months using your wealth-building techniques!”

TIP #2: AIDCA -- A winning formula.

A good formula to follow when creating ads is AIDCA. One of the great copyrwriters, Clyde Bedell, used this formula in many of his famous ads. AIDCA stands for:

A: Attract Attention
I: create Interest
D: build Desire for what you are offering
C: Conviction -- be convincing & believable
A: Ask for Action

You attract attention with the ad's headline and appearance. Then you create interest right away by tying into the headline and expanding on it with a first sentence or two in the body of the ad. You tell people why they should be interested. The first sentence is key and must engage the reader right off the bat. Followed by the second sentence, also key.

You build desire for whatever it is you're offering by describing its various features and turning them into benefits for the reader . You MUST itemize and describe all benefits.

“This phone has a sliding volume control on the handset so you can easily adjust the volume .” (In this example, the benefits are “easy volume adjustment” (ease & convenience) and the implied benefit of “better hearing”.)

You add convincing statements -- perhaps customer testimonials -- to support what you are saying and make your offer more believable. To further removes doubts and make your ad or mailing piece more believable (build conviction) you must also address and overcome each key objection that the reader could come up.

Then you ask for action. “Don't Delay! Call today for your free examination!” If you don't ask for the order, the response, the call, or whatever, you won't get it. You must tell people what you want them to do.

TIP #3. Know what your offer is.

The “offer” is not necessarily the benefit or news that's contained in your headline. You may be telling people that you can help them reduce fat or get fit. That would be in your headline. But your offer is the mechanism that gets them to ACT NOW.

Example: “For a limited time only, we are offering our ‘Fit And Healthy Lifestyle' program at a specially reduced price of only $199!” That's your special offer.

Sometimes the offer is part of the headline....

"Get fit fast with our ‘Fit & Healthy Lifestyle' program. Spouses half-price! (Limited-time offer.) "

This would likely be aimed at capturing clients who were already aware of the program but had not responded thus far.

Offers can consist of “Two for One” deals, “coupon good against purchase”, “Fly Now, Pay Later.” And so on. Offers are very IMPORTANT if you want to get responses.

TIP #4: Use active phrases and sentences in your ads and promotional materials, not passive ones.

Example: “Lightning struck the boy as he was crossing the bridge.” NOT: “The boy was struck by lightning while crossing the bridge.”

Example: “Buy 3 get one free!” NOT: “You'll receive one free if you purchase three!”

Get to the point. And use simple sentences and phrases. On the whole, people aren't as literate as they were years ago. And the well-educated will also appreciate it when you state things simply and get to the point!

TIP #5: Write your ads the same way you would speak them.

You are talking to real live people. In daily conversations, you keep things simple. And you use words such as, “you”, “yours”, “mine”, “our”, “his”, “hers.”

Do the same in your ads. Make them conversational. Hard-hitting, to the point, but conversational. Pretend you're talking to someone right across from you and read your ad out loud. Would you actually talk that way? If not, you probably need to rewrite it.

TIP #6: Unless you are targeting profession or technical buyers (engineers, enthusiasts, etc., ) always turn product features into human benefits.

We touched on this in #2 above, but it's important enough to be featured as a separate tip.

Unless they are professional or technical buyers, people do NOT buy product features. They buy benefits. So you turn the features of your products or services into customer benefits. Like this:

“Because this garment has double-seams throughout (feature), it won't unravel .” (benefit)

“Now you can get a 60-month car loan. This gives you more months to pay, so you pay less each month.”


TIP #7: Always test your ad by having someone read it out loud to you.

When you hear it coming back at you, you may hear things you don't like and can change them.

Also, watch to see if the person who's reading it tunes out at a certain spot or “doesn't get” something. Chances are, others will not get it either. You need to fix every spot where the reader could tune out so you can keep them flowing through your ad.

TIP #8: Use these key words in your ads and promo materials.

Use them in your headlines and in the text of your ads. They are time-tested, proven “hot” words. And they don't wear out with usage.

you, free, yours, easy, how, now, how to, people, money, save, new, who, why, announcing, gift, hurry, handy, useful, big, large, secret(s), want

TIP#9: Use the following table to determine what size of ad you need to use.

This is based on recent research conducted by a major research company, Cahners, which analyzed 8,854,932 inquires generated by 86,002 display ads in 34 of their publications. This table shows the average number of inquires per ad size.


spread ads: 107
full page: 76
2/3 page: 68
1/2 page: 56
1/3 page: 47
1/4 page: 52

From this you can see that you usually increase your responses when you increase the size of your ad. HOWEVER, you have to keep in mind costs. If you could get 52 responses from a 1/4 page ad, is it worth it to run a full page to get 76? Only you can decide based on your objectives, what it is that you're selling, and your budget.

Notice also that a 1/4 page ad pulled more than the larger-size 1/3 page ad. Again, this could all vary depending on what's being sold, the publication the ad appears in, the target audience, etc. Use it as a rough rule of thumb.

TIP #10: When you can, use a photo in your ad or promo piece to increase its pulling power.

The large mail-order companies have learned that even a small photo - the size of a postage stamp -- can increase the pulling power of an ad or mailing piece.

In a small ad, you can simply have a photo of a person looking out at the reader -- either a straight ahead shot or at an angle.

NOTE: If you do use a photo, be prepared to have a “half-tone” made. Without getting into all the technical aspects of this, the way a half-tone is made is by photographing the original photo through a screen mesh. The result is another photo that is made up of thousands of little black dots. The darker areas of the photo have lots of black dots. The less dark areas have fewer dots.

All of the dots are solid black, but your eye blends the black dots with the white paper and sees the photo as having, black, gray and white tones. If the half-tone process wasn't used, your original photo would show up in print as stark black and white - no gray tones.

That's it. Use these quick tips to improve your ads and pull in more business.

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