How to Create Advertising that Sells

How to Create Advertising that Sells

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    Chapter I – Advertising Must Appeal to the Emotions

    If you are writing advertising, you must remember all successful advertising holds out a promise to gratify longings that are emotional in nature.  It doesn’t matter if you are writing for snail mail or email, television or print ads, magazines or newspapers, you must touch the emotions to clinch the sale.  Photographs and illustrations can help, but they need words to make them effective.

    Creating a Need

    People may not even be aware they have particular longings until you create the need.  By writing riveting emotional copy,  you are engaging interest.  You are awakening desire.  You are creating excitement.  All this, and you haven’t yet mentioned one benefit of your product or service.  Benefits (or, as we say, bennies) come later, after you’ve gotten your prospects’ attention.  You want them sitting up straight and panting to learn more.  They will only do this if you have pushed their emotional buttons.  After which you will kindly, and gently, reel them in.

    Gaining Attention

    Need feeding taps into subconscious yearnings.  When it works, there is an immediate emotional response, a quickening recognition and receptive attention. No one likes to be sold, but when you have successfully gained someone’s attention by appealing to an emotion, you can probably sell them anything.      

    What do people really want?

    In order to meaningfully tap into emotions, you have to know what people really want.  Let’s make a list: 

    People want to be rich, beautiful, healthy, happy, powerful, smart. 

    They want to be safe, protected, admired, approved of. 

    They want to dominate, control, rule and be strong.

    And there are things they definitely don’t want and will avoid at all costs:  they want to avoid loss, shame, ignominy, early death and poverty. 

    To be successful, you’ve got to figure out how what you’re selling feeds some of those needs. 

    For example, a tremendously successful ad that ran for years and years a while back featured a skinny guy lying alone on a crowded beach.  All around him attractive and shapely people frolicked.  The headline stated: 

    They used to kick sand in my face.  Until I went to Jim’s Gym.

    This was an ad for a gym (not Jim’s) and the rest of the ad featured its benefits.  It concluded with an illustration of the same guy some time later, on the same beach only now surrounded by admiring young women.  Of course, this time he had a wonderful physique as a result of his membership in the gym. 

    If the ad only listed the benefits of the gym it would not have been as affective.  It was the emotional appeal of the lonely guy who used to get sand kicked in his face that produced outstanding results, not only the first time the ad ran, but also for years afterward..  Men identified on an emotional level with the guy in the ad and flocked to the gym hoping for similar results. 

    Here’s an example of a direct mail advertising piece that didn’t work, this one for an investment publication:

    “Perhaps I should have written you before, but I deliberately waited until today.”

    It hit the trash pile after that first sentence. Where is the emotional appeal?  The writer is very egotistical to think anyone would care why he deliberately waited to write.   

    You only have seconds to make an impression

    People make very quick judgments when it comes to reading advertising.  You only have, on average, 5 seconds to make an impression, or about one sentence.  And that particular sentence didn’t make the cut. 

    On the other hand, another investment magazine had this headline:

    Next year will be far more dangerous to your wealth than this year.

    How’s that for an attention-grabbing, emotional appeal based on the fear of loss and the need for financial protection?  Would you go on reading the promotion?  I read every word.

    Next time:  More tactics and techniques for writing successful advertising.

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