IMPACT: How YOU Can Create Ads that SELL!
Psychology of Effective Advertising)
(c) Gary Witt, 1998
from Chapter 3:
"Creating Headlines That Grab Attention"
look at some easy-to-understand techniques to help you design more
effective print advertising. You don't have to know anything about
advertising, but you must know your product, know your customers, and
be able to write a clear sentence. If you can't do that, don't
attempt to do your own ads! If you can, this book will help you use
those skills -- and your common sense -- to create effective ads,
brochures, flyers and other marketing materials.
print ads or other print pieces are composed of three things: Headlines,
Pictures (or graphics), and Text. The role of the headline and
the picture in a print ad are to grab the readers' attention. It's
called the "grabber." Grabbers are what carnival side-show
barkers use to lure people to pay a dollar to go inside the tent.
("See the two-headed monkey!" See the world's smallest man!")
stimulate a motivation (in this case, a desire) and promise to
satisfy it. "Hurry, hurry, hurry," the barker shouts.
"You'll be amazed. You'll be flabergasted. When you see the
incredible Giant Rat of Sumatra!" Hearing this offer, some
casual passersby suddenly realize they would like to experience
novelty, amazement, and awe. And, by golly, a giant Sumatran rat
would just do the trick!
Barker's Real Pitch -- and Yours:
barker first stimulated a desire-type motivation in his audience by
promising that he has just the thing to stir their emotions (seeing a
giant rat is hardly a need in their lives.) Then the barker explains
how they can experience these feelings of awe and wonderment, thus
satisfying the drive -- "Step right up! For just one dollar you
can experience this Wonder of Science!" Notice, the barker isn't
really selling the Giant Rat. He is selling feelings -- awe,
wonder, excitement, maybe even some fear. The Rat is just the means
by which to create those feelings in the paying crowd.
barker offered to satisfy the crowd's desire for those feelings, in
return for just one dollar. That is the deal being offered -- you
give me a dollar, and I'll make you feel excited, awed, and scared
within two minutes. What a deal! Suddenly people who had no thought
of wanting to gaze at a big, hairy rat just one minute before, are
overcome by an awakened urge to see one. And they can do it right
now, if they've just got a dollar left. Notice, the REAL deal was NOT
"you give me a dollar and I'll let you look at a rat."
If you understand the difference, you're ready to use the
psychological marketing approach to create your advertising and other
marketing materials . . .
(note: several pages of text are omitted here.)
That Draw Attention:
are some ideas about how to create a headline that stops traffic.
Use these ideas as a way to excite your imagination, as guideposts to
evaluate headlines you create, and as a repair manual to fix
headlines that don't work. In all cases, use your common sense. Use
the ideas that apply, ignore the others.
Make it short.
Notice when you read a newspaper that you often purposely avoid
looking at the ads. You'll look at even the smallest story about a
jeep rollover in Sierra Leone, but you won't look at a half page ad
for a clothing sale at the Dillards down the street! By any measure,
the sale has more potential impact on your life than the African
jeep, but you select the jeep anyway. Why? Because the news story
doesn't DEMAND your time; it isn't trying to sell you something. Readers
indulge you by listening, so you should make it as simple for them
to understand your message as possible -- and still make your point.
A short headline easy generally easier to read and understand, so
readers prefer it. A headline like "Coke Hits The Spot"
is faster for a reader to mentally process and understand than one
like, "Coke Tastes Great When You Are Really Thirsty."
headlines are generally also easier to remember. And the oddity of a
single word can often stop readers. For example, each ad in a series
of negative political ads highlighting the poor record of one
candidate began with one word such as "Oops!"
"Oh-Oh!" "Ouch!", etc. They created
eye-stopping appeal and added a little humor to an uncomfortable subject.
Create a mental image or picture in the reader's mind.
words (called "concrete" words) create a mental image when
we hear or read them. For example, "Hammer," or
"Flower." Other words don't generally create an image. They
are called "abstract" words, like "freedom,"
"pleasure," and "caring."
remember pictures far better than words, so it makes sense
(supported by years of research) that words which create mental
pictures in the reader's mind will be understood and recalled better
than words which do not. For example, a cosmetic ad had this
headline, "See your mother on weekends. Not every time you
look in the mirror." This headline created a strong
mental image, raised a fear and promised to satisfy it -- the
essence of a good headline.
Use a strong word that's packed with related emotions.
emotion-packed words in bold letters grab attention. It's often best
to use them alone or in a two-word phrase. For example, a headline
may say "You're Fired" or "Sexy." A
financial seminar was advertised with the simple, catchy headline "Bankrupt."
word should be short, often used (for familiarity), and laden
with emotions. Just a glance at such words will often trigger an
emotional response -- and that is often enough to hook the reader. Of
course, the headline should have some relationship to the overall
theme of the ad you've settled on.
out several alternatives before deciding on a headline. Remember,
the headline isn't meant to sell, it is only meant to act as a stop
sign, leading readers to look at your ad. Help each part of your
ad to do its specific job.
Use a mysterious word or phrase.
Secrets Revealed!," or "Mobster's Lost Vault Uncovered!!,"
or "Frightening Discovery!!!" are examples of this
technique. People love mysteries. If your headline promises your readers
secrets, intrigue, mystery, or oddities, they will often stop to
learn more. [Note how exclamation marks lend drama and excitement to
the headline. Read On!!!]
love for such stimulation hasn't changed since P.T. Barnum made a
fortune on freaks and oddities, and Robert Ripley did the same with
his "Believe It Or Not" museum. One of the finest examples
of pure "amazing mystery" public relations hype was created
by the unlikely
. . . "
500 other similar tips, ideas and
in this book will help you create powerful,
effective ads, brochures and flyers. Anyone
can use these tips to help their business grow.
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