Six Warning Signs That Your Ad is Going to Fail

by Lou

“A good basic selling idea, involvement and relevancy, of course, are as important as ever, but in the advertising din of today, unless you make yourself noticed and believed, you ain’t got nothin’.” ~ Leo Burnett

It sucks. You put up a website or send out a sales letter and get very few buyers. What went wrong? Let’s find out…

I’m wondering if you realize how powerful it is to model successful ads. No matter where you are advertising—website, sales letter, flyer, brochure, podcasts, YouTube videos—you need to follow the rules of winning direct response ads if you want to make decent coin.

Bear that in mind as you read the following list.

Here is a list of attributes which will make your ad a dud:

1. You’re not using a headline. What would it be like if your favorite newspapers didn’t have headlines? You wouldn’t bother to read it, right? There’s nothing there to grab your attention. Look through any magazine, and you’ll see that many of the ads don’t have headlines. Look through the same magazine a few months to a year later, and you’ll be lucky to see those same advertisers in there. Don’t make your ad look like a dictionary page. Use a attention-grabbing headline and subheads (model the ones from the front cover of Cosmo magazine.

2. You’re using borrowed interest. This is from the “SEX…Now that I’ve got your attention, let me talk about this widget…” When you use something that has nothing to do with your business (such as a scantily clad attractive woman), you are using borrowed interest. Don’t do that. Having said that, there are effective ways to used borrowed interest using holidays and pets…if you connect them effectively.

3. You’re not getting your prospects emotionally involved. If your ad is as bland as a naked Ken doll, you’re going to lose prospects. One way to get your prospects’ adrenline pumping through their veins is to pile on benefits on top of benefits; bullets are great for this. Make bold promises (that you can back up with proof is excellent. Another way is to include a rag-to-riches type story. And of course, there’s always Future Pacing.

4. You’re using brand-awareness style of advertising. This is where you have pretty much a logo and maybe some borrowed interest. And it’s fine if you are a major corporation that was formed years ago. Many corporations starting out used direct response principles. Some still do combined with brand awareness/top-of-mind advertising. This is especially important to avoid if you’re are just starting your business. A friend of mine runs an online newspaper. He insisted on using a business card with just a logo and website address (I mean, that’s what Coca Cola would do). Total number of visitors after a few days of giving out hundreds of business cards? Zilch. Nada. No one.

5. You’re not using a Call to Action. Look through your local newspaper. Check out the ads. What percentage of those ads ask the readers to do something? Not a whole hell of a lot. What do you want your prospects to do? Buy? Subscribe? Go to your website? After you’ve made your pitch, tell them what to do.

6. You are not using psychological motivators. Sure you can sell with just features and benefits, BUT…if you what you’re selling is more of a commodity, you need to inject more motivation into your ad. You can use commitment, scarcity claims, social proof, and language patterns. This blog is FULL of motivators (and if you want a more thorough and methodical way of putting these motivators in your advertising, why not check out NLP Language Patterns for Advertising)?

So, these are the main reasons why ads don’t work. Ignore them at your own risk.

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