Where are the benefits?
Most of the copy you see in an advertisement describes the features that appear in the publication, so it’s not benefit driven.
Offering a benefit lifts response. Here’s a headline that worked very well:
‘The London Review of Books costs less than a Sunday newspaper – but provides far more intellectual substance, lasting value and sheer enjoyment.’
An illustration within the advertisement re-enforced the headline: the six free issues of the London Review are shown and the caption describes the offer:
‘Six issues free and 50% off’
So the proposition is expressed immediately by the three most attention-grabbing elements in the promotion, which communicate, repeat and re-enforce the offer:
1. The headline: publication’s name, subject matter and offer
2. The illustration: six issues of the publication
3. The caption: six issues free and 50% discount
In an effective ad, nothing should interfere with the messages given in the headlines, body copy and coupon.
Crucially, there should be no important query or potential objection that you haven’t answered satisfactorily.
The coupon summarises the proposition. You should always do this as many readers don’t read much of the copy – they jump to the coupon to see what the deal is.
The coupon must be as simple and easy to compete as possible. It should not, for example, be complicated by the small differences in overseas rates.
Here is a summary of the ingredients that go into an effective off-the-page advertisement:
1. An attractive proposition
2. The proposition clearly communicated in the headline
3. Body copy and coupon that re-enforces the proposition
4. All questions answered within the advertisement
Remember that once you have created an advertisement it is always necessary to read it again and again — and to show it to others asking:
“Is there any material question or objection to subscribing that I haven’t addressed?”
This query goes to the heart of why the publication itself is successful or not. It is the reverse of our first question of the editor or publisher:
“What is unique about this publication and why should I subscribe to it?”
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