by Jeff

Do the HOME­work too!

When it comes to Adver­tis­ing, Mar­ket­ing, and Per­sua­sion, are you a stu­dent of what’s come before you?

  • Do you know the history?
  • Do you try to learn from the greats by read­ing their books and study­ing their works?
  • Do you look at all of it?  Or just a nar­row slice?

If you didn’t answer Yes to the main ques­tion and the first two bul­let points, you can stop read­ing now. Really. There’s no hope for you.

But I find that quite a few seri­ous copy­writ­ers get hung up on the third bul­let point.

These copy­writ­ers have stud­ied the direct mail lin­eage — Hop­kins, Caples, Col­lier, Schwartz, Hal­bert, Kennedy, et al — but haven’t looked at any of the giants of Madi­son Ave style adver­tis­ing beyond, maybe, Ogilvy.  And vice versa for broad­cast adver­tis­ing guys who’ve never stud­ied Direct Response marketing.

Or they’ve never thought that the The­atre Arts or Rhetoric or Com­edy Writ­ing or Sales Train­ing or even say, Comic Books had any­thing to teach them.

In other words, they dis­miss stuff that’s not directly in their field or that they don’t “get” right away. Big mistake.

So today’s les­son: be a stu­dent of the game — the whole game.  Learn what’s great from the past. Study it.  Note that “study” doesn’t mean pas­sively read­ing it. When in doubt, fig­ure out what other great tal­ents that you DO like see in the “greats” that you don’t get.

And here’s two great links to get you started on the path:

  1. This New York Times arti­cle on Ed McCabe [hat tip to The Escape Pod for turn­ing me onto this article]
  2. This Invis­i­ble Ink post on learn­ing from leg­ends you don’t “get” at first con­tact.

P.S. That NYT arti­cle men­tions the same Volvo ad I used as an exam­ple in my last The­ory Thurs­day post and I man­aged to snag a screen shot of it.  Here it is:



by Jeff

What it Takes to Make the Sale!

I’m guess­ing you already have at least one guar­an­tee or risk rever­sal ele­ment to your main offer.

Maybe it’s in the form of a money-back or sat­is­fac­tion guar­an­tee, a free ship­ping guar­an­tee, or maybe a free esti­mate or free diag­noses. What­ever it is, the point is that you already have it in place. After all, it’s com­mon sense to use some­thing like that to reas­sure your cus­tomer and win more business.

But chances are it’s not doing you very much good because you don’t pro­mote or repeat it often enough — espe­cially at those cru­cial moments of buy­ing decision.

Assur­ances Need Repetition

You assume that  dis­play­ing or speak­ing of your guar­an­tee once is enough, and, well, it’s just plain not.

It’s not enough because the buyer is jug­gling too many other fac­tors in her mind to hold onto that piece of infor­ma­tion so that she can recall it when the moment of truth comes. Plus, it’s not really her job to remem­ber it, either — it’s YOUR job to remind her.

Test­ing this On Your Website

Amazon.com rocks the Pont of Action Assurance

Online, this is an easy thing to test: sim­ply run a split test where you test repeat­ing your sat­is­fac­tion or money back or safe shop­ping guar­an­tees in your cart and check­out process vs. not using those points of action reas­sur­ances.  For lead form Web­sites, you can use your pri­vacy or non-call or free-diagnosis guar­an­tees.  What­ever is most appropriate.

Again, chances are you’ll see a big lift by using these points of action assur­ances because, truth be told, this is one of those go-to tools that us Con­ver­sion Rate Opti­miza­tion Pro­fes­sion­als bank on to drive results.

Imple­ment­ing it Offline

Studer Group’s AIDET

But what about off-line?

Guess what, it’s even MORE impor­tant offline than on.

I used to work for a fab­u­lous con­sult­ing com­pany that coaches hos­pi­tals on improv­ing their patient sat­is­fac­tion scores. And one of their go-to tools was a script­ing acronym called AIDET, specif­i­cally used to man­age patient anx­i­ety through reassurance.

AIDET stands for:

  • Acknowl­edge — Acknowl­edge the patient. Look them in the eye and say hello.
  • Intro­duce — Intro­duce your­self and give a quick back­ground of your expe­ri­ence and qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Don’t assume that the patient will assume that you know what you are doing just because you are wear­ing scrubs; TELL them you have umpteen years of expe­ri­ence at what­ever it is you are doing.
  • Dura­tion — Tell them what you are doing and how long what­ever your task is will take — i.e., how long you’ll be both­er­ing them
  • Expla­na­tion —  Tell them WHY you are doing what you are doing, HOW it works, and What is involved.  Relate every­thing back to their care. Exam­ple: I’m wak­ing you up at 4:00 am to draw blood for tests that will pro­vide “real-time” lab results to your doc­tor when he comes to check on you at 7:30 this morning.
  • Thank You — Thank the patient for seek­ing care at your hos­pi­tal, for being patient dur­ing your pro­ce­dure, etc.  Then ask if there is any­thing else you can do for them, specif­i­cally stat­ing that you “have the time” to answer their ques­tions or do what­ever they might request.

So what does all this have to do with Point of Action Assurances?

Notice that the Intro­duce part reas­sures the patient that they are in good hands, and that the “I have the time” phrase said dur­ing the Thank You part reas­sures patients that it’s OK to ask. The assump­tion is that it’s the nurses job to remind and reas­sure the patient dur­ing crit­i­cal trans­ac­tions and not the patient’s job to know or remember.

Your in-store staff can use sim­i­lar tech­niques.  I’d advise you to come up with your own acronym, but you would def­i­nitely want to remind cus­tomers that:

  • Your stores sat­is­fac­tion guar­an­tees or return policies
  • You have addi­tional items or sizes in the back and would be happy to bring them up front for the customer
  • You are an offi­cial dis­trib­u­tor or what­ever for this or that brand
  • They have been specif­i­cally trained in how to fit cus­tomers for this or that item
  • They them­selves are pas­sion­ate chefs/bikers/hunters/stereophiles/etc. and/or have been trained on the products
  • Pro­vide free esti­mates, draw­ings, sam­ples, etc. to prospec­tive customers

So what are you doing at your busi­ness?  Does your staff have any­thing like AIDET to fall back on to ensure that they are con­sis­tently reas­sur­ing cus­tomers dur­ing the moment of truth?

If not, you might want to do a lit­tle “offline” test­ing of your own…

A bit of com­mon wis­dom for lawyers goes some­thing like:

When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When both are against you, call the other lawyer names”

Great advice, but how does this trans­late into adver­tis­ing terms?

Ah, to get that, you have to go back to the Rhetor­i­cal advice from which this com­mon wis­dom came. And when it comes to Rhetoric, I always look to Jay Hen­richs, author of Thank You for Argu­ing and Word Hero. Here’s what Jay has to say in chap­ter 12 of Thank You for Arguing:

If facts work in your favor, use them. If they don’t (or you don’t know them), then…

Rede­fine the terms instead. If that won’t work, accept your oppo­nents facts and terms but…

Argue that your opponent’s argu­ment is less impor­tant than it seems. And if even that isn’t to your advantage…

Claim the dis­cus­sion is irrel­e­vant.”

Redefin­ing Terms Read more

Trouble_girl3I’m re-publishing this post for Prac­ti­cal Tac­ti­cal Tues­day because I like it and because very lit­tle is more prac­ti­cal than “How To” advice on writ­ing bet­ter headlines.

Hope you enjoy:

My con­fes­sion? Even though my copy always had great head­lines, my blog posts fre­quently didn’t.

I wasn’t (yet) struck by the need for trou­ble — and with­out a hint of taboo, or a chal­lenge to the norm, or a per­ceived con­flict, or at the very least a para­dox, most head­lines just never get off the ground.

Here’s why there has to be a sense of trou­ble liv­ing at the heart of your headline:

Your head­line needs to hook the reader into read­ing your “story,” and sto­ries are cre­ated by and live off of con­flict. In fact, another phrase for trou­ble is “story appeal.”

Your goal: entice the reader with a hint of con­flict, and then she “has” to click through so she can know how the con­flict is resolved and what kind of trans­for­ma­tion takes place as a result.

4 Ways to Cre­ate Con­flict in your Head­lines: Read more

If actions speak louder than words, how effec­tive can a TV ad be if its imagery con­tra­dicts its sales mes­sage?  Don’t think this hap­pens?  Check out this ad FedEx ran dur­ing the Super Bowl no less:

YouTube Preview Image

The mes­sage: You shouldn’t judge some­thing based on a name; FedEx ground is faster than you think

The imagery and action: You CAN judge things by their name and the only per­son who doesn’t ques­tion that is the only relat­able char­ac­ter in the entire ad.

And this sort of thing hap­pens all the time, usu­ally in the name of humor or enter­tain­ment, where the ad ends up with imagery and on-screen action that belies the sales message.

But here’s what it looks like when you do it right — when the imagery per­fectly aligns and strength­ens the sales message:

YouTube Preview Image

The mes­sage: Beni­hana turns an ordi­nary din­ner out into an EVENT

The imagery: Glam­ourous peo­ple flock­ing to Beni­hana to be delighted and thrilled and enter­tained by the kinetic chore­og­ra­phy that is a Japan­ese steak house.

Hey, if you’re going out for a spe­cial din­ner, why not make it an event?  Now that’s a near-perfect ad with absolutely per­fect imagery.