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Marketing mastery: Twelve secrets for creating killer ads

Nov. 4/11 2013; Volume 27/number 14

By Jim Armstrong

(Second of three parts)

Jim: What’s the “Big Promise” in your ad?

Jim Armstrong
Jim Armstrong

Floor dealer:  That we guarantee to have the lowest prices.

Jim:  Let me guess…you get beat up on price a lot.

Floor dealer:  Yep.


Before you read this article I want you to do a quick, 2-minute exercise: Google “flooring retailers” in your town and pull up the top three websites that appear in the organic search.

I’ll bet the biggest lobster in Maine each website features the business name at the top of the site, bullets of what it offers and contact information. In other words, they are all basically saying the same thing. They don’t answer the unspoken question on every prospect’s mind: “Why should I do business with you instead of your competitors?”

I want to give you the tools to answer that unspoken question and make you the obvious choice while helping you command premium prices. With that in mind, let’s pick up from my last column.

Secret No. 4: The big promise

Remember that your prospects only care about three things: benefits, benefits, benefits. The “big promise” is where you communicate a powerful benefit in a way that connects with your audience on an emotional level. Let’s look at some examples; below are three bits of advertising copy for flooring that I found by doing a random Google search:

• We Beat Any Competitor’s Estimate By 10%

• Bring Earthy Elegance Into Your Home

• The best name brand flooring for the lowest installed prices

This is pretty standard fare for flooring ads and websites.

Compare those with the following “big promises”: 

• When they see your new SuperDuperWood floors your friends will gasp in amazement and think you remodeled your entire home!

• WARNING: Once your MegaFluff carpeting is installed, you’ll be tempted to kick off your shoes, sink your bare toes deep into the baby-soft fibers, close your eyes and never leave the house again!

• PillowPuff fibers are so soft and luxurious one customer described them as ‘otherworldly.’ You’ll feel like you’re getting a warm foot massage every time you walk across your floors!

Using “big promises” in your advertising will also differentiate you from your competitors; however, make sure you can deliver.

Secret No. 5: Testimonials

What others say about you is 100 times more effective than what you say about yourself, even if you are 100 times more eloquent. Properly used, testimonials will literally do 80% of your selling for you.

There are three stages of your relationship with your customer:

1. Before they buy

2. During the sale

3. After the installation

In the before stage, use testimonials in all advertising you’re using to generate leads and walk-ins, including websites, display ads, mailers, flyers, etc. In the during stage, use testimonials in your sales process. In the after stage, when you are marketing to your past customers, continue to use testimonials. This reminds them why they should use you again and refer their friends.

Secret No. 6: Write how you talk

People want to do business with people, not with impersonal businesses. Your ads should not sound like stuffy, Madison Avenue “advertise-ese.” Instead, be very personal in your copy; write the same way you talk. It’s acceptable to bend the rules of grammar, or use trendy language, slang or even text abbreviations. Even one-word sentences are OK.