The Secret Behind Million Dollar AdsBy David Garfinkel
Want a little secret to turn your advertising into an irresistible magnet for customers?
Dale Carnegie knew the secret, and that's one reason his book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" has sold more than 15 million copies. In fact, British Airways recently named it "The Business Book of the 20th Century."
It's a great book. But if Dale had titled it "How to Remember People's Names and Curb Your Incessant Urge to Argue," do you think it would have sold as well? Probably not. There's great power in good titles.
What you may not realize is the words "How to Win Friends and Influence People" are not only the title of the book. Those words were also the headline of a mail-order ad, which sold the book. The ad ran successfully for many years and sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
So what does this have to do with turning your advertising into an irresistible customer magnet?
Here's what. Behind the title and headline is a "secret code" that makes it powerful. Dale knew it. Great advertising copywriters know it. And now, you're going to know it, too.
The "secret code" is actually a generic formula that gets attention and creates desire in your prospect's mind. Every winning headline has a unique generic formula hidden inside. Here's the formula in Dale Carnegie's book title and headline:
How to _____ and _____.
Let's see the formula at work. Say you are an executive recruiter, and you help companies find new executives. In reality, your biggest problem is finding the executive candidates in the first place. So, to increase your group of candidates, you decide to run an ad in your local business journal. Here's how you could use this formula to write a headline for your ad:
How to Get a Better Job and Make More Money
ï¿½ and right after reading that headline, anyone who's even a little interested would want to read your ad immediately. Then, if your copy (text) is even halfway decent, you'd get plenty of calls.
Or, let's say you run a martial arts school. Here's how you could apply the formula in an advertising headline to get you new students:
How to Stay Fit and Protect Yourself
Do you see how powerful that is? You've just zeroed-in on people who are likely to be interested in learning martial arts.
The brutal reality of advertising: An ad with a good headline and even mediocre copy will get you a response and generate sales. But with a poor headline, even the most brilliant copy will get you little or no response. Why? Because without a good headline to get their attention, most people won't read any further.
The good news is, once you have identified a good headline that works in one industry or market, you can adapt it (like we did with the Dale Carnegie headline, above) for your own business. Great headlines work as subject lines in emails, titles on Web pages, and of course as headlines in print ads and sales letters. Great headlines will literally transform your sales.
How does this work in today's economy?
Recently a client asked me to help him introduce a new service to Internet Service Providers. (Note: To understand what you are about to read, you should know that ISPs call their suppliers "backbone providers.") I wrote a direct mail letter and my client sent it out to ISPs. Because my client was revealing new information his prospects hadn't heard before, we used the following "teaser headline" on the front of the envelope:
What Your Backbone Provider Isn't Telling You
Was this an entirely original headline? No. I had seen a similar "teaser headline" on a successful mailing to promote an investment newsletter:
What Your Broker Isn't Telling You About High-Tech Stocks
So I merely identified the "secret code" in the original winning headline, and applied it to my client's market, ISPs.
The response to the mailing was overwhelming! Nearly 10% of the entire ISP industry responded to our letter - and my client has added eight figures of new annual revenues as a result of the business that developed.
I'm telling you this not to brag, but to point out the awesome power of good headlines. While many people spend hours and hours trying to come up with "the perfect headline" for their ads, there is an easier way. Find proven headlines that already work for another business in another industry, and adapt them to your business.
Then prepare for a flood of new customers!
© 2002 David Garfinkel ================================================================
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