The Biggest Mistake You Can Make

As I travel, I have an opportunity to read many ads in many magazines and newspapers.  What disturbs me is that 99% of them are downright dull and I often yawn when reading them.

As the saying goes, “How you say something is just as important as what you say.” An ad should be similar to a face-to-face sales pitch.

A great ad will have, not only the offer itself, but the language, the tone, and the “voice” of the offer.

The problem is that most sales messages get so engrossed in describing the company, its products, and product features that they fail to appeal to the reader.

It’s understandable.  People in business are often so tied to their businesses or products that they get tunnel vision and fail to look at their copy from their reader’s perspective.

It’s understandable, but inexcusable.

My advice is to be more experiential in your ads, as if the reader is experiencing what you are telling them.  Let them feel or imagine how it feels.  Make it “benefit-rich”.  Most importantly, appeal to the reader’s ego when describing those benefits.

People always buy for, or are influenced by, personal desires, selfish reasons and self-interested motives.  And guess what?  It’s been that way for thousands of years, and nothing’s changed.

People are people.  They always buy on emotion and they always will.

Our job as entrepreneurs is to express our offers in terms that trigger the prospects emotions, press their hot buttons, tug at their heartstrings, and push them into taking action. 

To do otherwise with your offers is the biggest mistake you can make.


Technorati Tags: , , ,

38 Responses to “The Biggest Mistake You Can Make”

  1. Mary Leedy says:

    Hi Ken! Could you give us an example of an ad that speak to people’s egos? What word pictures would you use to get the reader to take action? Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Mary Leedy,
    This is a broad question. The answer depends on your market. For instance, if you are selling a hot sporty car and your main audience is made up of men, your ad will talk about how the car will make the driver attractive to the opposite sex. You will cater the ad to the male ego. You will show the “sexy” photos of the car, etc. So it all depends on your market. You need to know your market, what motivates them, and what words they say to themselves to make them take action. Then use those words in your ads.

    One caution though…don’t approach your ads with the intent of manipulating the reader. Instead, use what I said above with the intent of facilitating communication about the benefits you want to offer. You are learning about your market so you can give them what they want and so you can use the words that allow them to hear what you have to say.

    [Reply]

    Alex Dogliotti Reply:

    @Ken Varga,
    To be honest with you Ken, that’s what’s been going on for years. What one should think about is, what’s the next step? What do you think of inbound marketing? Creating value for your customers even before they’re your customers? Outbound marketing (of which ads are a big part) focuses on finding the customers. INbound marketing focuses on getting customers to find you by creating useful content for them. I agree with your benefits part, what I’m questioning is the way.

    [Reply]

  2. Julia Aquino says:

    Ken,
    Thanks for the wise words…the difficult part is getting out of our entrepreneur heads and into our customer’s hearts or in your words “to look at our copy from the reader’s perspective”. Thanks for putting it in words that make sense!

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Julia Aquino,
    You are welcome, Julia.

    [Reply]

  3. Mike says:

    Your experiencial comments made me think of the iPad commercials from Apple. In the ad, they show some really cool things that the iPad can do, and then get your imagination running about how you can be seen as cool, innovative, envied, etc.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Mike,
    Mike, Apple is a master at creating ads. They know what their audience wants and they give it to them, with the added benefits of fun and coolness. They go beyond the utilitarian benefits of the product to what people really want, which is to have fun using the product and to feel special or part of special group by owning it.

    [Reply]

  4. Russ Jones says:

    Ken
    I strongly believe that having a great headline will even make a week ad perform. The key is finding and matching the right audience to your mesaage. You hit their hotspot and your ad will be a winner.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Russ Jones,
    Russ, yes. The headline is key. It’s what grabs the reader’s attention. If it doesn’t, the reader won’t read the ad. But if the headline is strong and “forces” the reader to read it, then s/he will continue into the body of the ad. And if the ad is read, it has a chance to convert the reader.

    [Reply]

  5. Jane Gilman says:

    Good advice – especially about the hedline. We have moe 150 ads in our newspaper each month. the problem is–some advertisers want to put the U. S. Constitution in space designed for a 4-line poem. Our advice — white space is a must – and keep copy to a minimum.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Jane Gilman,
    Jane, usually when I see advertisers writing the type of ads you describe (the “Constitution” type), it’s because they are trying to make a sale from the ad, instead of using the ad to generate leads. When used to generate leads, the advertiser can offer a free report, free sample, etc. to generate interest. With a strong headline and a strong reason why the reader should send for the free offer, they don’t need to say much.

    For example:
    Headline: Say Goodbye to Ugly Blemishes For Good…
    Offer: Find out how by downloading this revealing free report at (website address).

    [Reply]

  6. Katherine Whelchel says:

    I certainly agree that people are influenced to make purchases based on their emotional response to a product. I certainly am! I think about things in this order: Is this something I have already been considering? Is this something I know I need? Is this something that says YES Buy me!
    It is important to find these things out about your prospective customer, to get them talking about themselves. This will give you a lead on how to approach them with your product. I can’t speak to the ad part of this, as all my work is one-on-one.
    Using questions as probes is a good way to start out a conversation, because most people are dying to have someone to talk to about what is really important to them. Being a sincere listener will establish a feeling of trust which means they will listen to your message more thoughtfully when they can connect it to something that is important to them.
    I would like to hear others’ comments on this idea.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Katherine Whelchel,
    Katherine, well said! Like you say, “people are dying to have someone to talk to about what is really important to them”. That is what needs to be captured in ads. Of course, you can get into more depth in a one-on-one situation. The advantage of the ad though is that it allows you to reach more than one person at a time. Admittedly, the ad cannot get into the depth you are referring to, but if done well, it can peak sufficient interest that it can be the start of a much deeper conversation to follow.

    [Reply]

  7. Anne Rayment says:

    Great article, Ken. Put simply if you don’t grab them at the first line, you probably haven’t got them, and if you don’t keep their interest in the next few lines – they are gone!
    The hard part is to find the best ‘grab’ lines!

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Anne Rayment,
    Anne, you are right! The hook,or “grab” line, or headline is the key. If it doesn’t grab them, they won’t read any further. To find those ‘grab lines’, we have to listen carefully for the frustrations, fears, and desires of our audience, and we need to use the same language they use.

    [Reply]

  8. Ken,

    Based on people making a decision based on their emotional response to a product, how would our company market a product that many are not familiar with such as an Italian pizzelle? The one fact I can think of is that they are delicious and have a low calorie count. Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Debra Latynski,
    Hi Debra,I would start by giving away samples to people and having them describe their reactions to it. Ask them leading questions like how would they describe the taste? How would they describe the texture? How did they feel while eating it? What color would they associate with the product while eating it? Try to get them talking so you can get to the truth of their experience of the product. Then distill the common descriptions you hear and start using them in your marketing.

    Also ask them why it’s important to them that the pizzelle has a low calorie count. Again, listen to their language, so you can use it in your marketing.

    [Reply]

    Gail Gardner Reply:

    @Ken Varga, @Debra Latynski

    Hi Ken, Would you mind if I expanded on your excellent suggestion?

    Debra, you could do short videos of people trying your Italian pizzelles and post them on YouTube. Get creative. Have them eating in popular places or while waiting to get in a major events so you can tie your product to existing buzz.

    If your business is local in nature, identify the bloggers who are most influential in your geographic area and arrange to have them try your product and write about. If you sell nationally, focus on food blogs who do product reviews. (We call that blog outreach / blogger outreach.)

    While they are still being refined, there are new tools to make it easier to locate and identify bloggers who are influential and what topics they are known to share. If you use Twitter you can find them @PostRank @PeerIndex @Klout or contact me and I can provide additional information.

    There will be people like me who are hyper-connected and already have existing relationships with bloggers that enable them to get businesses valuable incoming links from related sites and reach and motivate social media users because of those relationships. The businesses that recognize and utilize their reach will be much further ahead.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Gail Gardner,
    Gail, great suggestions.

  9. Gail Gardner says:

    The mistake you’ve pointed out in advertising is just as common in other online content (blogs, Web pages, etc.) and just as boring there too.

    Businesses need to focus on what the READER wants – not bragging about themselves. No one really cares much about YOU until they decide you have something they want. (And how wonderful you are is NOT what will make them want i!)

    While emotions DO motivate, advertising IMHO has gone too far when all they can come up with is more blatant sexualized themes. The advertiser who finds new ways to appeal to desires without moving them any further into peep show territory will be the most successful.

    Images that bring up fond images are just as compelling – and possibly MORE compelling – than the standard fare being served up so repeatedly by ad agencies today.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Gail Gardner,
    Gail, because many ad agencies focus on creating award-winning ads instead of ads that convert, we get the kind of ads you talk about. If they were focused on conversion, they would pay more attention to who their audience is and to how that audience really wants to be communicated with.

    [Reply]

  10. In addition to the wonderful and creative suggestions already offered, in terms of Gail’s marketing of pizzelles, you might try something along the lines of, a little bit of delicious Italy right here at home. Italian foods, and visiting Italy, create that emotional connection and feeling of treating yourself to an “escape”. (Remember, Calgon, take me away?)

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Deborah Novick,
    Deborah, and @Debra, the “delicious Italy right here at home” idea seems like a good one to test. It carries a lot of imagery with it. @Debra, you can use that or a similar phrase when you talk with people and see how they respond.

    [Reply]

  11. Dan Williams says:

    Ken, I agree with your post..but getting out of our mindset as business owners isn’t as easy as it may sound. For that single reason I hire professional copy writers to design all of my print ads, direct mailers, etc. Paying for them to use pschology in selling seems much more practical for me.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Dan Williams,
    Dan, yes getting outside of our mindsets can be tough. Also working outside of our strengths can be challenging. In this case of creating compelling offers, a business owner should recognize whether writing the offer falls within their strength. If not, they should find someone who has the strength to do it, as you suggest. And recognizing that the job of the offer is to trigger emotions, press hot buttons, etc., the business owner will be better prepared in selecting a copywriter if they decide to.

    [Reply]

  12. As to why people buy, you are absolutely right, Ken. I have personally seen this over and over again. I have been to many homes where the children have rotten teeth, holes in their underwear and run down shoes. In the yard is a car that barely gets the job done, and a brand new 60 inch state of the art TV against the wall.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Stephen Floyd,
    Stephen, fascinating! Isn’t it? The point here is for us as business people to use what we know about buying in a way that serves the prospect or customer. In other words, we know that what we have to offer is beneficial to the customer, so we use what we know about the way people buy in order for them to have a chance to hear our message. That way, they can decide without prejudice or fear. Never should we use it to manipulate. There is a fine line here in the approach. We want to approach others with care and fairness, just like we would want for ourselves.

    [Reply]

  13. That dude really knows what’s he’s talking about.

    [Reply]

  14. Kym Wegener says:

    It’s nice to see that we’re still reading each other. Thanks for listing me! Cheers

    [Reply]

  15. Hello! wonderful blog internet site! I am a common guest for you personally to the 1 you have

    [Reply]

  16. Bart says:

    Thank you so much Ken and all you other brilliant people! I’ve been struggling to put together some ads to get new customers for my struggling small business but after reading this post and all your insightful comments, I have a much better idea of what approach to take and I already came up with some great ideas!
    Thanks again :)

    [Reply]

  17. Your internet site is any person to maintain in touch with for particular! Our audience will far more than most likely get a entire lot from this simultaneously!

    [Reply]

  18. I’m just consequently pleased to pick up that

    [Reply]

  19. data. I’m just book-marking and will be tweeting this type of in order to my personal fans! Fantastic weblog at the same time as amazing styling.

    [Reply]

  20. Thanks for giving your ideas. I would also like to say that apple ipad mini have been ever before evolving. Technology advances and inventions have aided create sensible and fun games. All these entertainment games were not as sensible when the actual concept was first being used. Just like other areas of technological know-how, Apple Ipad Mini way too have had to grow via many ages. This itself is testimony towards the fast growth of apple ipad mini.

    [Reply]

  21. My developer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses. But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress on several websites for about a year and am anxious about switching to another platform. I have heard fantastic things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it? Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

    [Reply]

  22. Good morning Ladies & Gentleman, believe it or not this is still my 1st 1 week on the internet, i confess i am little delayed with this technology, but better now then never – right? I was already able to grab 100 of book marks of things which often interest me, if i would have recognized the online world has all of this, i would certainly have tried to get it sooner then in my 60′s. My favourite book mark so far, which i take a look at pretty much any other day is Click For Celebs, its wonderful! I wanted to comply with those habits of all those other posters here which say thanks nicely all over the place. What a unforeseen warm and friendly community in this article. Appears to be the internet is loaded with friendly people. Very best Regards and a fortunate week to every person!

    [Reply]

  23. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article author for your site. You have some really good articles and I think I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d really like to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please send me an e-mail if interested. Regards!

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

No CAPTCHA challenge required.
 

Sign Up Now For The 10 Marketing Mistakes That Steal Your Cash!

Sign Up for Ken's FREE Newsletter
  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Categories

  • Tags