One Easily Remembered Point


One of the things that too many small businesses do when they advertise is to try to pack the ad with everything that could possibly be of interest to any potential customer.

After all, advertising is too expensive to waste any opportunity to sell everything to anyone.

That’s logical, isn’t it?

None the less, it’s guaranteed to be bad advertising.

Look at this Yellow Pages Ad

It could easily be a radio ad, or television ad. The style isn’t at all different, merely the details of the execution.

Dentistry Ad

Dentistry Ad

And as a Yellow Pages ad, listed with all competitors under “Dentists,” Dr. Whacksem is likely to get a few calls from this ad. He will, however, always suspect that his ad isn’t very efficient. It doesn’t draw enough business for what he’s paying. He’ll blame the medium. “My radio rep told me that Yellow Pages don’t work. She was right.”

She’s wrong. So’s the doctor.

The medium isn’t the problem, the message is the problem.

What’s the message? Ah. There’s our problem.

What is his message?  That he works on kids, and their parents, and older people, too? That he will accept insurance payments or make a payment plan? That he does fillings, and teeth whitening, and root canals, and extractions? That he does crowns and bridges and bonded porcelain? That he uses x-rays? That his staff is professionally trained? That he’s “mercury-free,” (whatever that means)?

What is Dr. Whacksem’s message? I’ve counted at least fifteen, and that doesn’t even count him telling you how to get in touch.

Without scrolling back up, how many can you remember? Humm. And that was only two paragraphs ago, after I drew your attention to it.

Nobody will remember a list.

Listing your services, or your products, is bad advertising.

Instead of getting more information to more people, you’ll accomplish exactly the opposite. The message becomes part of a blur in the minds of the people who are already being clobbered by hundreds of other ads every day.

This ad doesn’t say anything “salient,” anything a potential customer can relate to. Without that salience, it doesn’t stand out. It doesn’t get remembered. To maximize your impact, you need to give this ad salience.

You need to make one simple, easily remembered point to one particular group of people.

Some small business people get it right away. Many do not. Frankly, most do not.

You’re telling me NOT to tell people that my dental office works on children, and adults, and old people. You want me not to tell people we do root canals, and teeth whitening, and x-rays, and takes most insurances? That’s crazy. What if someone needs a crown, and they don’t see that in my ad?”

What if someone needs a crown, and you didn’t manage to get their attention in the first place? How many people do you believe actually read your list of services?

Whatever the size of your business, your advertising will have a bigger impact if you limit your ads to one simple easy to remember message.

Consider this ad from one of our first dentist’s competitors:

Better Dentistry Ad

Better Dentistry Ad

First, notice the headline – “good news for high fear dental patients.” How many people are afraid to even be examined by a dentist? And even those who aren’t afraid will appreciate the promise of “Soft Touch.” Everyone will appreciate that their comfort is this dentist’s first concern.

Notice, too, that the ad doesn’t list all of basic services. Truthfully, though, doesn’t every dentist do fillings? Root canals? Cleaning? Doesn’t every dentist use x-rays?

Do we even notice that these things are missing? Do we care?

No, we don’t.

What do we remember?

Instead, we remember that Soft Touch Dentistry doesn’t want us to hurt, or to be afraid.

The second ad makes much more impact, doesn’t it?

OK, but what happens when someone who’s not afraid of the dentist hits the Yellow Pages? Which ad is she drawn to?

Care to speculate?

Of course it’s the second one. Whether she needs a cleaning, a root canal, or a crown, our dental prospect is still not likely to even notice the first ad, and will react positively to the second. The second ad, the highly-focused single message ad, is the one our dental prospect will read. She’s also more likely to phone for an appointment.

So, by narrowing the focus to a single point, we actually broaden the appeal of the ad. Wow.

Then, there’s cost.

And there’s something odd happening here. With all of its additional impact, the second ad takes only about 60% of the space that it’s competitor does. Soft Touch Dentistry makes a much bigger impact with a substantially smaller ad. Double wow. How much money will this save Soft Touch over the year? Better yet, how many more impressions can Soft Touch Dentistry purchase with the same budget?

OK, one last thought: the Advertising Performance Equation (APE) represents the relationship between your message, the frequency of that message delivery to an audience, the customers’ experience with you, your market potential, and resultant sales.

All other factors being equal, and without going into the math, making your ad twice as memorable will double the percentage of your advertising driven sales.

And we like to double the catch when we’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 helping people to remember your advertising? Drop Chuck a note Or call him at 304-523-0163.




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In Call To Action: Secret Formulas To Improve Online Results Bryan and Jeff will teach you how to break through the invisible web-blocks that are keeping your web site from performing. They’ll give you a global overview of the revolutionary principles and tactics that made them famous around the world.

There will be at least one “ah ha” moment in which a light bulb appears over your head. They guarantee it.

No matter how much or how little you know about web development, you will receive huge benefit from this class. Since the company’s inception in 1998, the Eisenberg’s have focused exclusively on helping clients, large and small, persuade and convert their web traffic into leads, customers, and cash based on their proprietary Persuasion Architecture and conversion rate optimization techniques.

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If you have a web site whose performance could use improvement, you need this class. It will not be repeated and registration is strictly limited to the first 120 participants.

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The Long And Short Of Persuasion

Pope Benedict Smoking

Pope Benedict Smoking

Researchers must be careful to neutrally phrase a question, so as not to influence the response.

My partner, Roy Williams, offers a perfect example. When a penitent asked if it was proper to smoke during prayer, he was told it was not. But when the question was rephrased as: “Is it acceptable to pray while smoking?” he was assured that prayer was always appropriate.

Sometimes it’s not the phrasing that controls the outcome. Sometimes people ask the wrong question. The wrong question, in this case, is “Which sells better? Long copy or short copy?”

I’m a long copy proponent. That is, I’m opposed to the “nobody will read more than 300 words” school of advertising.

Short copy has inherent risks. Because it has limited amounts of compelling information, response rates are frequently low. There’s also the risk of high numbers of cancellations and refund requests because the product or service wasn’t what the customer imagined.

The short copy crowd assumes that everyone is like them. “I wouldn’t read this,” they argue, “therefore no one else would either.” However, these people are not interested in what you have for sale. Without any interest, no matter how short the copy is, they will not read it. Will they read 300 words? They won’t read 100.

Fans of short copy are almost never successful copywriters.

When the copywriter ignores people who won’t buy, and concentrates on those who may, copy invariably grows longer. Be careful, though. Long copy in the hands of an unskilled writer becomes an excuse for sloppy, non-focused, undisciplined writing.

Long copy proponents have research on their side. Split-testing research shows that long copy consistently outperforms short copy. Additional research indicates that although readership does fall off dramatically at 300 words (when the non-interested browsers lose interest) it does not show further erosion until 3,000 words.

This argument over long copy vs. short copy has raged for years. Unfortunately, it’s a tangential issue.

Long vs Short asks the wrong question.

To get to the right question we need to assess the customer’s perceived risk, and the emotional commitment necessary to persuade her to buy.

The biggest risk any purchaser makes is the possibility of wasting her money in a bad purchase – one that doesn’t suit her needs. The lower the price, the less risk. The less the risk, the lesser amount of emotional commitment. A lessened amount of persuasion becomes necessary.

We’ve all been in a check out line at a convenience store or a grocery. We’ve noticed the magazines, the candy bars, the breath mints. In retail, these are known as “impulse items.” No emotional involvement required. No financial risk. Impulse items are low priced items.

Long copy may well bore the potential purchaser of low-risk items.

Note that you won’t be able to pick up and admire the portable DVD players, or the jewelry, or anything with a stiff price tag as you wait in line. These things don’t usually sell on impulse.

The higher the price, the less likely Miss Prospect is to purchase it on a whim. As price goes up, so does the risk that she’s making the wrong purchase. As risk goes up, so does the requirement for emotional commitment on the part of the buyer.

When our prospect is considering a major purchase, short copy may leave her wanting to know what she gets for her money.

So, in order to decide how long to make your copy, you’ll need to determine the amount of reassurance Miss Prospect requires. If you’re selling candy bars, she won’t worry about the rent check bouncing. If you’re selling college enrollment and asking for a commitment of $25,000 over the next eighteen months, she will require more assurance.

This leads directly to the right question

How much persuasion does the prospective customer require to be comfortable making the purchase?

Her comfort level will be directly proportional to the number of dollars in the “ask.”

The length of your copy should also be proportional to the size of the ask. When asking for a small amount a simple easily remembered message is appropriate. When asking for a large amount your copy must anticipate every objection, every question, every doubt that your prospect has in you, or in the product or service you’re selling.

Of course, it must also be well-written, persuasive, and compelling.

The message must be salient.

Salience is the relevance of the message to your prospect. It’s the most overlooked quality in advertising. It’s the reason for the long copy / short copy debate. It’s also the reason the debate is bogus.

Remember, your purpose is persuasion

You’re trying to get a total stranger to open her purse and give you money. Write something that speaks directly to her. Give your message salience.

Write what needs to be said to convince Miss Prospect that owning your product or service will affect her life. Get her emotionally involved. Tell a story. Share testimonials. Use statistics. Boost your credibility by whatever means is available to you to remove as much risk as possible. Guarantees are golden. Add as much information as necessary to make the sale, and not a bit more.

Then start cutting any excess from your copy. Remove any word that can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Do you now have strong, persuasive, motivational copy? Long enough to make your points? Short enough to get right to them?

Assuming that you truly understand your prospect, and have written to her concerns, your writing will automatically be the appropriate length, whatever that length may be. And providing enough persuasion, but just enough, will increase your catch 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 making your advertising copy persuasive?  Drop Chuck a note at Or call him at 760-813-5474

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