Using The Persuasion Diagram To Make A Radio Ad

Let’s create an ad using the Persuasion Diagram from What I Know About Writing Ads I Learned In High School.

Elite-Web-Logo-280This ad is for Elite Exterminating in Corpus Christi, Texas. Our objective is to promote their monthly in-home roach treatment. After interviewing the client, we are able to quickly determine most of the elements to fill in the Persuasion Diagram.

Use this outline to create persuasive advertising in any medium.

Use this outline to create persuasive advertising in any medium.

The Persuasive Proposition: roaches will keep coming back until you call Elite Exterminating.

Point One: Once they establish a presence in your home they’re nearly impossible to remove.

Point Two: You only see a few of the thousands of roaches in your home. Elite Exterminating will kill them all.

Point Three: Elite Exterminating is committed to complete customer satisfaction.

Call To Action: Pick up the phone and dial 853-8570.

Make ‘Em FEEL The Roach Infestation

We need a vivid first mental image for our Attention-Getting Headline. We need to make sure people who have seen roaches in their home pay attention. With a little creativity we come up with:

Attention-Getting Headline: Sometimes late at night you’ll hear their filthy little feet scuffling across the floor.

OK. We have all of the major parts. Using the sequence shown in the diagram, let’s put the pieces together.

Sometimes late at night you’ll hear their filthy little feet scuffling across the floor.

Roaches will keep coming back until you call Elite Exterminating.

Once they establish a presence in your home they’re nearly impossible to get rid of.

You only see a few of the thousands of roaches in your home. Elite Exterminating will kill them all.

Elite Exterminating is committed to complete customer satisfaction.

Roaches will keep coming back until you call Elite Exterminating.

Pick up the phone and dial 853-8570.

This ad isn’t done, but even in this bare bones form you can read the sentences out loud and can quickly judge whether or not this strategy is valid. Our incomplete example already sounds as if it will get the attention of homeowners with roaches, and guide them to call.

The Editing Step

Let’s flesh out the skeleton a bit, and re-write some of the minor points to make our ad compelling.

Sometimes late at night you’ll hear their filthy little feet scuffling across the floor linoleum. You move a soap bottle from under the sink, and you think you see something ducking down the drain opening. And you know that your home has been invaded.

They’re roaches. You could try the powders, the sprays, and you’ll find that they roaches will just keep coming back until you finally call Elite Exterminating the full service pest control and termite company.

They’re filthy, disgusting, and once they establish a presence in your home they’re nearly impossible to get rid of.

You only see a few of the thousands of roaches in your home. Elite Exterminating will kill them all the roaches you see, and the thousands of roaches you’ll never see.

Elite Exterminating, the full service pest control and termite company serving all of Texas and is committed to complete customer satisfaction.

Roaches will keep coming back until you call Elite Exterminating. One call. No more roaches. Elite Exterminating: Pick up the phone and dial 853-8570.

If we swap the second and third paragraphs the sequence will flow better. Here’s the final script. Produced with the appropriate sound effects, our radio ad is done.

It’s Radio Ready

“Sometimes late at night you’ll hear their filthy little feet scuffling across the linoleum. You move a soap bottle from under the sink, and you think you see something ducking down the drain opening. And you’ll know that your home has been invaded. They’re filthy, disgusting, and once they establish a presence in your home they’re nearly impossible to get rid of. They’re roaches. You could try the powders… the sprays… and you’ll find that they just keep coming back. Until you finally call Elite Exterminating, the full service pest control and termite company. Elite Exterminating will kill the roaches you see, and the thousands of roaches you’ll never see. Call Elite Exterminating now at eight five three, eighty-three seventy. Eight five three, Eighty-three seventy. Eilte Exterminating, the full-service pest control and termite company proudly serving all of Texas and committed to complete customer satisfaction. One call… no more roaches. Elite Exterminating: eight five three, eighty-three seventy.”

 

I wrote and produced this ad in 2003. Reviewing it now it’s obvious to me that the wordy and somewhat passive “Once they establish a presence in your home they’re nearly impossible to get rid of” would have been stronger as “Once you’ve got roaches they’re nearly impossible to get rid of.

And yes, Mrs. Jacobson, I do remember that you told us not to end a sentence with a preposition. (A silly rule, up with which I shall not put). Please understand that my objective is persuasion, which tends to work more effectively when I write the way people speak.

Next time, we’ll use the Persuasion Diagram to create a newspaper ad.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Need help applying the persuasion diagram to the story you need to tell? Drop Chuck a note at ChuckMcKay@FishingforCustomers.com. Or call him at 760-813-5474.

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What I Know About Writing Ads, I Learned In High School

Carol Jacobson, who inspired and guided several crops of reporters, novelists, and advertising copywriters.

Carol Jacobson, who inspired and guided several crops of reporters, novelists, and advertising copywriters.

On August 23, 1969 the late Carol Jacobson began teaching us how to write effective advertising.

By us, I mean the English composition class of Alamo High School, Alamo, North Dakota.

Oh, she didn’t call it effective advertising. She called it “writing.”

Carol Jacobson believed that people who could write a persuasive essay could write anything. I’ve been using the structure she taught us to create advertising copy for the last three decades.

Mrs. Jacobson used a diagram similar to this one:

Use this outline to create persuasive advertising in any medium.

Use this outline to create persuasive advertising in any medium.

 

The Attention-Getting Headline, sometimes called the First Mental Image, is what draws you into the ad.

Once you have the prospect’s attention, lead up to the Persuasive Proposition.

Mrs. Jacobson called this part the thesis. Sometimes it’s called the Value Proposition. Rosser Reeves called it the Unique Selling Proposition.

Regardless of what it’s called, this is the main point of our ad. This is the one thought that we want to stick in people’s minds.

We usually use three points (or benefits) to convince our prospect of the validity of our Persuasive Proposition. For some reason three is a magic number. Any fewer, the proposition appears weak. Any more and you run the risk of a long and boring list.

Exception: If you’re targeting Transactional Shoppers, and are showing off items included in your big sale, three groups of three items is magic. “They come in red, blue, and yellow; with zippered front, buttons, or pullover; and are available in medium, large, and extra large.”)

Finally, the Call To Action tells your prospect what you want her to do next.

Get familiar with this diagram. You can use it to create effective advertising copy for radio, for newspapers, for flyers, for sales letters, for television ads.

Next time we’ll use the diagram to create actual ads – the perfect bait when you’re fishing for customers.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Need help applying the persuasion diagram to the story you need to tell? Drop Chuck a note at ChuckMcKay@FishingforCustomers.com. Or call him at 760-813-5474.

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How Many Pancake Restaurants?

Originally published April 16, 2006

pancakes

A stack of pancakes.

People seem to naturaly rank things. They list things in order. They tend to remember things at the tops of the various lists.

On nearly any list, most people can remember the top three with little effort. It’s generally accepted that seven is the maximum simultaneous number of items that the average person will remember.

In 1980 consultants Al Ries and Jack Trout suggested that as astute marketers we take advantage of this human characteristic, and “position” our products against whomever tops the list.

This creates a new list, with us at the top. That makes it easier to remember.

One of their examples was 7-Up

As a soft drink it was way down the list. As the “Uncola” it was number one, beating out Coke.

As a soft drink, 7-Up needs you to remember Coke, Pepsi, Royal Crown, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, before you’re likely to remember 7-Up.

As the Uncola, 7-Up needs you only to remember 7-Up.

The Uncola is a marketing position. It’s a mental shortcut. It let’s you get your message across in just a few seconds. A marketing position reminds your customers “Here’s why we’re worth recommending. Here’s why your friends and colleagues will be glad you told them about us.”

Let’s apply this concept to an industry familiar to all of us.

Hamburger Restaurants

How many hamburger restaurants can you remember? Four? Six? Most people can remember seven. Did anyone do nine (without peeking)?

Suppose you have a hankerin’ for a double cheeseburger. Does any particular restaurant come to mind?

Here are the rankings of hamburger restaurants in the U.S:

  1. McDonald’s
  2. Wendy’s
  3. Burger King
  4. Sonic
  5. Jack In The Box
  6. Dairy Queen
  7. Hardees
  8. Roy Rogers
  9. Carl’s Jr.
  10. Rax
  11. WhatABurger
  12. White Castle
  13. Krystal
  14. Fudrucker’s
  15. A&W
  16. Ralley’s

How many of these names did you remember?

Our question was, “Does any particular restaurant come to mind?”

Did anyone say “IHOP?”

Silly question?

Perhaps. After all, you can get a double cheeseburger at IHOP.

Even though they don’t mention cheeseburgers in their ads, IHOP has them on the menu.

So, why does IHOP not mention cheseburgers in their ads?

Two reasons: the cost of advertising; and the number of names down the list IHOP would find themselves.

Share of mind roughly equates to share of market.

In order to to create a space in your memory and help you to remember that IHOP has burgers, they’d have to beat out all of the hamburger chains listed.

They’d have to help you to remember at least seventeen down on this list. That’s a formidible undertaking. And, since we can predict minimal success, it’s likely to be very expensive when costs are compared to results.

No matter how much they spend, IHOP will never have more than a tiny fraction of the hamburger market.

How many pancake restaurants can you name?

Humm.

So, instead of hoping that you’ll remember at least sixteen other restaurants and still have mental space (and frankly, the willingness) to remember IHOP, they don’t mention burgers at all in their ads.

Instead, they make it easier for you to remember IHOP by becoming the top of a completely different list.

Instead of getting the crumbs of the hamburger market, they get the biggest share of the breakfast market. And in the minds of the public, IHOP pretty much owns the pancake position.

Marketing position = “specialization”

Frequently when I recommend specialization, people think I’m talking about refusing business.

I’m not.

Our objective is to capture a larger share of market. The actual competition for a greater share of awareness happens within shoppers’ minds.

By specializing we create a position at the top of some small list (market) rather than attempt to compete for awareness from way down a much bigger list (market).

Specialists do not refuse customer’s money * at the cash register. Their ads just don’t talk about things that are not likely to be remembered.

Let’s take a test

  1. IHOP is famous for _______?
  2. Waffle House is famous for _______?
  3. Tony Roma’s is famous for ______?
  4. Marie Calender’s is famous for _______?
  5. Spaghetti Warehouse is famous for _______?
  6. Black Angus is famous for ______?
  7. Olive Garden is famous for ______?
  8. Lotus Garden is famous for _______?
  9. Panda Express is famous for _______?
  10. Pizza Hut is famous for ______?
  11. Taco Bell is famous for _______?
  12. Kentucky Fried Chicken is famous for ______?
  13. McDonalds is famous for _______?
  14. Red Lobster is famous for _______?
  15. Hometown Buffet / Old Country Buffet is famous for _______?
  16. Benihana is famous for _______?

Humm. Same number as the list of hamburger restaurants. And yet, you do remember most of these.

Each has created a unique marketing position, and that position places each of them the top of a completely different mental list. Each has stopped trying to get a smaller share of the “dining out” market, and is instead competing for dominance within their speciality.

Your business is not likely to be a restaurant. Regardless, to compete in the minds of shoppers, it needs a position. That position will be a specialty.

What is your business’ position? Owning one is almost a requirement when you’re fishing for customers.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Have questions about exploiting your own position / marketing niche? Drop Chuck a note at ChuckMcKay@FishingforCustomers.com. Or call him at 760-813-5474.



* Ok. I lied. Specialists do turn away some potential business.

A Chinese restaurant will not maintain its position in the minds of customers by adding Mexican dishes to the menu.

If you found a menu that contained Chinese dishes, and Mexican delicacies, and Italian cooking, as well as burgers, would you believe the food was likely to be good? Or would you assume that these people can’t possibly excell at all different styles of cooking?

 

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How to Steal Your Competitor’s Customers. Part 2 of 3

Tomato Juice ad

Tomato Juice ad

Is this a good ad?

Does it make you want to buy a can of John’s Tomato Juice?

A good ad would.

A good ad would catch the attention of someone who wanted tomato juice, and offer compelling reasons to choose John’s brand.

But this ad?

People expect tomato juice to be pure and fresh. The “whole tomatoes” part isn’t an expectation, but it’s not surprising, either. Nope. Not a single reason to choose John’s Tomato Juice.

Without a demonstrable difference people tend to buy the more familiar over the less familiar. Even after they’ve seen advertising for the lesser known brand? Unfortunately, yes.

John’s ad may well encourage a shopper to pick up a can of tomato juice. Odds are, though, it will be a can of Del Monte’s, or Hunt’s, or Campbell’s.

Ouch.

John’s, like all of the rest of us, needs a compelling difference to become the brand of choice. If shoppers believe John’s Tomato Juice is just like all of the other brands, the only reason a shopper would choose a lesser known brand like John’s would be price.

Awareness.

But suppose I point out that tomato quality makes a difference in the taste of the juice. John’s Tomato Juice uses only heirloom tomato varieties, chosen for exceptional flavor. John’s tomatoes are individually selected and hand picked at the peak of ripeness. They are processed within hours to capture their freshness.

I’ve just made you aware of a significant difference offered by John’s Tomato Juice, and provided enough specific detail to make my claim of improved taste believable.

Ideally awareness (and in this case curiosity) might prompt you to sample John’s. If you like the taste, John’s could become your preferred juice. And if large numbers of customers sample and prefer John’s, that will lead to increased demand, increased market share, and through economies of scale, greater profits.

Awareness → Preference → Market Share → Profitability

This process always starts with awareness, which happens in one of two ways: though large amounts of advertising, or more spontaneously because the product (service) is noticeably different.

Cognitive Overload.

Thinking is hard. Remembering, not so much. And once a preference is established in the mind of a consumer, that decision won’t be revisited.

Unless, of course, that consumer is presented with a compelling new reason to reconsider.

Have you ever talked to a homeowner who has decided she needs a new home? Listen carefully to her descriptions. She may only vaguely be able to describe what she wants in her new home, but she will explain the shortcomings of her current house in great detail. Her dissatisfaction will nearly always be a predictor of her purchase behavior.

You could build an ad around her specific irritations. Other disgruntled homeowners would immediately identify and pay attention.

Unfortunately, too many companies don’t bother to research their customers. When it comes time to make something happen their inclination is to cut price. Long term this is seldom a valid strategy.

Why? Because there can only be one lowest-price producer in each market, and chances are its not you. That lowest-price strategy is nearly impossible to sustain, and there’s no particular advantage in becoming second-lowest.

Distinguish.

Advertising becomes more effective when there’s a difference upon which to build the ads. But difference for its own sake is only weird, and weirdness doesn’t sell.

To persuade a customer to buy, the difference must be meaningful to her.

As noted in How Do You Educate A Customer?, most businesses don’t have enough time or money to convince non-users to enter the market.

Most can, however, convert customers who’ve already been persuaded by the market leader to enter the category.

Stealing someone else’s customers is the most efficient use of your advertising dollars.

Therefore, the only advertising strategy that makes sense for most businesses is to influence your competitor’s customer to switch brands. For highest return on your advertising investment, do this close to the time of purchase.

Effective advertising solves a problem.

What’s the one clear and overriding reason that will get your business noticed, provide new information, and persuade some other company’s formerly satisfied customers to try your brand?

Here’s a hint: most opportunities will not be the direct opposite of the market leader’s strategy, but rather in exploiting an opportunity that is either too small or too far removed from the market leader’s primary focus.

McDonalds sells fast, fresh, and fun. Subway is best-known as the provider of non-fried low-fat sandwiches.

Wal-Mart is positioned as the lowest price retailer. Target’s more sophisticated image is that of the “hip discounter.”

Goodyear focuses on quality: “The best tires in the world have Goodyear written all over them.” Michelin’s appeal is safety: “Because so much is riding on your tires.”

Michelin didn’t create the desire to keep family members safe. They did, however, recognize and exploit a genuine need already felt by a significant number of customers. A need that Goodyear’s quality/value position can’t fulfill.

Will Michelin ever overtake Goodyear in gross sales? Unlikely. However, among people who’s primary concern is the safety of their families, Michelin is much more likely than Goodyear to be their first choice.

Being the first choice in your own unique category is the basis of developing a solid U.S.P. This makes it tremendously difficult for any competitor to counter your advertising.

The market leader can’t do what you’re doing without abandoning his own highly-profitable position in the market. And when the other smaller competitors try to copy what you’re doing (and they will) their ads will only remind people of you.

In his book, The Ad Contrarian, (great read, by the way), Bob Hoffman says:

We don’t get them to try our product by convincing them to love our brand. We get them to love our brand by convincing them to try our product.

Care for a glass of tomato juice? Its John’s. You’ll taste the difference those heirloom tomatoes make.

The more you convince to try the product, the greater the catch when you’re fishing for customers.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

Marketing consultant Chuck McKay

Chuck McKay

Your Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Questions about focusing your messages on specific buying stages may be directed to ChuckMcKay@FishingforCustomers.com. Or call Chuck at 304-523-0163.

 

 

___________

This article is one of three on this subject:

Part 1: How Does One Educate a Customer

Part 2: How to Steal Your Competitor’s Customers

Part 3: Zen and the Art of Persuasion

___________

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Should an Upwardly Mobile Zebra Shed Its Stripes?

Zebra losing its stripes.

Zebra losing its stripes.

You’re a lion. It’s dawn on the Serengeti. The hunger pangs of three days without food are becoming impossible to ignore.

Off in the distance is a herd of zebra. You’re down wind. You can smell the herd but they can’t smell you. You crouch closely to the damp earth, stealthily moving through the tall grasses. Your padded feet don’t make a sound.

The zebra slowly mingle in the herd. The stripes of one blend seamlessly into the stripes of the next, creating a vermiculite tapestry of white and black. Your only hope of catching one is to single it out from the rest, but which? How do you focus on any individual when you can’t determine where one begins and the other ends?

Wait. What’s that?

One zebra is grazing apart from the others. You can see it’s nostrils contract with each inhale and expand as each warm breath leaves its body. You watch its tail idly swatting at flies as it slowly steps forward to reach the next succulent blade of grass.

You are now focused on the one, rather than being confused by the many.

And the many? They have taken advantage of the safety of the herd.

Our instincts are to hide from predators. Herd animals like zebra, or sheep, or even people protect themselves by looking and acting like every other herd animal.

Taking risks gets one noticed. It exposes vulnerabilities.

Taking risks is… risky.

And what’s the upside?

Is there an upside?

No banker has ever been fired for refusing to make a loan. No investment broker was ever fired for buying IBM. Not taking risks is instinctive.

So we do the things we’ve seen other businesses do. We recite the same messages, replicate the same images, and deliver them through the same media. We stick with what works. We choose the tried and true and smugly congratulate ourselves on not taking any risks.

What passes for most business strategy is simply a “me too” game of “We do what they do, but you should buy from us instead.”

Unfortunately, “we do what they do” makes your business blend back into the herd. You’ve made the very things that make you the best solution to your customers problems impossible for the lions (uh… the customers) to single out.

Brace yourself.

“Me too” as a strategy fails because you’ve hidden your strengths.

Successful marketing of your business requires behavior that’s not only risky, it runs counter to instinct.

Successful marketing requires you to step apart from the herd, and draw attention to yourself.

Successful marketing requires you to shed your stripes.

Or, in fishing terms, there’s no point in hiding the bait when you’re fishing for customers.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Got questions about standing out from the herd and drawing attention to your business? Drop Chuck a note at ChuckMcKay@ChuckMcKayOnLine.com. Or call him at 304-523-0163.

 

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