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Marketing Mastery: Maximizing your ROI by creating killer ads

(First of three parts)

By Jim Armstrong

Oct. 21/28 2013; Volume 27/number 13

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 11.10.31 AMI’ve spoken with many floor covering dealers who were extremely discouraged with the advertising results they received using websites, newspaper ads, letters, postcards, email, flyers, etc. These retailers are often convinced the advertising media itself was ineffective, when many times it was the message being delivered that was responsible for the campaign bombing. To make this point, I ask dealers the following: 

Question: What’s the difference between a $1 bill and $100 bill?

Answer: The message on the paper.

In the same way, the message in your ad determines its value to you. The piece of paper (or electronic media) your ad is written on could be worth tens of thousands of dollars or worth zero depending on what is written. This series is about helping you maximize your ROI using your marketing with any media you choose.

Secret No. 1—The headline is the most important part of your ad or website

As I’ve stated before, the headline is the “ad for the ad.” When someone opens your letter, lands on your website, looks at your postcard or flips through a newspaper, you have seconds to catch her attention. This is why getting the headline right is critical.

Victor Schwab, author of How To Write A Good Advertisement, said, “Some of the most tremendous flops among advertisements contain body matter filled with convincing copy. But it just wasn’t encapsulated into a good headline. And so the excellent copy didn’t even get a reading.”

Most dealers use their business name as the headline of their ads. This is a mistake because business names usually don’t convey any kind of benefit to your prospects. Headlines should communicate a benefit, highlight a problem or awaken curiosity. Here are some examples:

How Susan’s Floor Shopping Nightmare Turned Into A Dream Come True!

Get A FREE Day Of Pampering And A Round Of Golf With The Jimbo’s Floors Spa & Golf Package!

I’ll sit down sometimes in a quiet place and write out 25 or more attention-grabbing headlines and pick the best one.

Secret No. 2—Keep your prospect’s attention with compelling subheads

After I come up with a good headline, many of the ideas I don’t use become my subheads. Some people will read every single word of your ad or website, others will skim. The subhead creates a readership path for the skimmers so they get your marketing message. I’ve written subheads on 3 x 5 cards, spread them out on a table, then arranged them in a logical, story-telling sequence.  This creates the outline for my entire ad, letter or website.

Secret No. 3—Demonstrate why prospects should believe you

Consumers are becoming ever more suspicious, skittish and stand-offish. Trust is hard to come by. That’s why you should use every tool at your disposal to build credibility with prospects.  (Stating “We won’t smack your bratty kids” in your advertising—while technically true—does not build credibility.) Include before-and-after photos, testimonials, certifications and any other credentials. But don’t just list them, explain in detail how each will benefit the prospect.

In the next article I’ll cover the secret of the “Big Promise.”