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Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Secret Of Ads That Sell

If you run a small to medium size business, you've probably thought about doing your own advertising. Knowing what to say and how to say it will make the difference between an ad that loses you money and one that boosts your profits.

Behind every successful ad is a strong proposition. What's a proposition? It's a statement that gives the single most powerful reason why your target audience should buy whatever you're selling.

At the core of your proposition is a promise, such as:

* It makes you rich.
* It makes you beautiful.
* It saves you money.
* It saves you time.
* It relieves pain.
* It gives you security.

You should already know the promise inherent in your product or service. But how do you craft it into a powerful proposition? To get started, consider these five points.

1. Why is your product so special? This is where you cross-examine your product or service. What makes it better than the competition? Is it cheaper, better quality, faster, smoother, more detailed? Is it new and improved? Do a select group of people use it? Is there an interesting story behind it?

2. What is the competition saying? If you keep a file of your competitors' advertising you can get a good idea about what's working, particularly if their ads are being repeated.

As you look through, can you find any common themes? There's no shame in crafting your proposition around what you know will work. All competitors copy each other in one way or another; the trick is to improve your proposition over theirs. If they offer a guarantee, can you offer a lifetime guarantee?

3. If you've advertised before, examine the results. This will tell you what worked and what didn't. If you can't do that, the next best thing is to talk to your existing customers. Ask them why they chose your product and what they like about it. This is also a great opportunity to gather testimonials. And testimonials can increase response rates dramatically.

4. Examine your marketing objectives. Do you need to target a particular group like teenagers, tradesmen, seniors or CEOs? Are time wasters or bad debtors a problem for your company? Take this into account as you create your proposition.

5. Should you lead with an offer? An offer, also called an incentive, is something you add to your product or service to make it more attractive. Two for the price of one, interest-free credit and free installation are all offers. In a mature market you often find offers become the proposition.

And there's really no limit to what you can offer to induce people to buy. A building society offers a free holiday if you swap your home loan over to them. The free holiday is the main feature of their advertising.

Taking the group of promises at the beginning of this article, you might come up with propositions such as these:

* The trading system that earns you $100,000 a year part time.
* The skin cream used by Hollywood VIPs now available in Australia.
* This engine additive cuts your fuel bill by as much as 47%.
* Buy a new computer direct and get three years interest-free credit. (The time-saving convenience of buying direct has been superseded by an offer.)
* The magnetic mattress that takes away backache while you sleep.
* The health insurance package for over 50s that covers everything.

You proposition is the bedrock of your ad. The headline will spring directly from your proposition. And the test of your headline is whether it supports the

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