How to Write a Successful Ad -  Part One

By Ben Hart


This is the first installment in a three-part series on “How to Write a Successful Ad.”


Writing just one great ad can make you rich.


My sales letters and ads have generated well over $500,000,000 in sales over the last 20 years.


The headline is the most important element of your ad.


Your ad must have a headline that grabs the attention of your reader


That’s how the National Enquirer and the New York Post sell their newspapers.  These publications are famous for their great headlines.


The job of the headline is to create interest and intrigue so that your prospective customer wants to read the rest of the story to find out what justifies such an fascinating headline.


Next in importance are the sub-heads that help break up the copy.


In direct marketing, where getting orders and causing the phone to ring is the goal, long copy ads perform far better than short-copy ads.  But your interesting sub-heads to catch the eye of the reader and break up the text.


Third in importance are captions under the photos you use.  Readers will read the captions under the photos before they read the rest of the ad.  Captions under the photos must summarize the bottom-line point of your ad. 


The same rules basically apply to writing headlines, sub-heads and captions under photos.  If your reader were to read only these three parts of your ad, they should understand what it is you are selling and the main benefits of buying.  These should be stand-alone statements that explain themselves.


Pick up a copy of The National Enquirer and read the ads in there.  Almost all these ads are direct response ads. The world’s greatest direct response copywriters are running ads in The National Enquirer.  One ad that’s been running for as long as I can remember starts with this headline:


“Corns Gone in Five Days or Money Back”


I think this ad has been running in every issue since I was a kid and never changes.  So it must be working fantastically well.


Notice how direct this headline is.  The entire benefit and offer is contained in just eight words.   A money-back guarantee strengthens the promise and gives credibility to the claim.


Everything you need to know is in the headline.


The claim is also very specific.  The corns are not just going to be gone, they will be “gone in five days or money back.”


Looks pretty simple doesn’t it.


A headline like this is worth tens of millions of dollars.


Notice also that this headline does not try to be funny or clever. It does not try to impress us with stylish writing.  This headline is simple and direct.


Another great one is the headline on the ad for the iPod:


“1,000 Songs in Your Pocket”


There it is, the main benefit of having a iPod – the benefit to the user. 


No discussion here of ram, gigabytes, interface, or how great the technology is.  Nothing about all the features the iPod has – just the main benefit


People buy benefits, not features. "Why should I want it?" is what people want to know.  "How will this make my life better?"


Looks simple doesn't it.  This headline is just five words. A headline like this enables Apple generate billions of dollars in sales.


These headlines pass what I call the “bumper sticker test.”


You must be able to fit the main benefit of what you are selling on a bumper sticker.


Your reader will give you three seconds, at most, to get your point across. 


If you can’t sum up the main benefit of what you are selling in a way that it will fit on a bumper sticker, your ad will fail.


More on how to write a profitable advertisement in the next installment.  Until then . . .


To Your Success in Business and Happiness in Life,


Happy Improved Marketing,


Ben Hart

Your 21st Century Marketing Coach

because everyone (even Tiger Woods) needs a coach


P.S. Now, if you are really serious about growing your business exponentially through improved marketign, you'll love this:


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