I try to reread the classics once a year so I can keep my head clear of all the mumbo jumbo that's out there.
Anyways, thought I'd do a little recap of some interesting things in the book. Things you can use in the new year to get back on track - or maybe just brush up.
If you don't know who Victor Schwab is ... he's the copywriter that made "Think And Grow Rich" a best seller. He was also the copywriter behind the Charles Atlas ads - among a whole list of other things.
"I see that you've spent quite a big wad of dough to tell me the things you think I should know.
How your practice is so big, so fine and strong ... and your history so rich and long.
So you started your practice in '82? How tremendously interesting that is to you.
You built up the thing with the sweat and blood of your life. I'll run home like mad and tell that to my wife.
Your equipment is modern and, oh, so complete! Your "rep" is so flawless; your employees so neat.
Your motto is "Quality" with capital "Q" ... damn, I'm getting tired of hearing about "you."
So tell me quick and tell me true ... or else my friend, to hell with you!
Less about you and your practice and how it came to be... and more about what you can do for Me."
Here are some of the lessons in the book I believe everyone should follow (ad refers to anything you are using to sell a product) -
Do not underestimate the fierce competition you face in getting attention. Nobody in the world (except you) is waiting for your advertisement to appear. Everybody in the world (except you) would much rather read the news, comics, stories, articles, editorials or even the obituaries.
Successful advertisers purposely start from this premise: People don't want to read advertising--not even mine. Then they work their way around this 8-ball by shooting that much harder for advertisements that, as Arthur Brisbane defined good writing, is "easier to read than to skip." They try to offer so enticing a "reward for reading" that people will want to read their advertisements right through --against any competition, editorial or commercial.
Good advertising is described as "building up a bright picture of value in the reader's mind which outshines the picture of price" -
Schwab says we don't write ads to get the admiration of the public...we write them for one purpose only - to sell.
There are 5 fundamentals of writing a good ad:
Show people an advantage
Persuade people to grasp this advantage
Ask for action
Moving on- about the headline:
It's the headline that gets people into the copy; the copy doesn't get them into the headline. In other words, the copywriter's aim in life should be to try to make it harder for people to pass up his advertisement than to read it. And right in his headline he takes the first, and truly giant, step on the road to that goal.
A headline should promise a worthwhile goal for reading further..."
1. By managing to convey, in a few words, how the reader can save, gain, or accomplish something through the use of your product--how it will increase this: his mental, physical, financial, social, emotional, or spiritual stimulation, satisfaction, well-being, or security.
2. Or, negatively, by pointing out how the reader can avoid (reduce or eliminate) risks, worries, losses, mistakes, embarrassment, drudgery, or some other undesirable condition through the use of your product--how it will decrease this: his fear of poverty, illness, or accident, discomfort, boredom, and the loss of business or social prestige or advancement.
Schwab says in his book that often people will fight harder to retain something they already have than they will to fight for something they don't yet have.
A couple examples I thought of are: They don't want to waste their money on things. They don't want to lose their health, etc.
He goes on to say the length of the headline doesn't matter as long as it conveys the message you want to get across. He also points out that a lot of successful headlines contain the word you, or some form of it.
He then goes on to say there are 3 things advertising can tell it's readers: 1. What the product is. 2. What the product does. And 3 (which is often overlooked) - because of what your product can do for me, others will see me in a certain way. Example: They'll think more highly of me. They'll think I'm better looking. They'll think I'm important.
If you can get your reader to use the 3rd step above, your sales will greatly increase.
He says that once you capture their eye, you must capture their mind with your body copy.
You must answer "What will your product do for me?" You HAVE TO show your reader an advantage they will gain - and keep showing them.
To write good copy you must be able to place yourself on both sides of the counter. You must be able to see things the way your customers see them.
"Nothing of yours ever seems half so important to me (the consumer) as it does to you. Millions of advertising dollars are wasted every year because what I want to hear has nothing to do with what you want to say."
Your body copy should contain EVERY advantage your product offers your customer.
"If you will tie up the advantages of your product with what people want to gain, be, do, and save, you will make them want to buy."
"People Want to GAIN... (1) Health (2) Time (3) Money (4) Popularity (5) Improved appearance (6) Security in old age (7) Praise from others (8) Comfort (9) Leisure (10) Pride of accomplishment (11) Advancement: business, social (12) Increased enjoyment (13) Self-confidence (14) Personal prestige.
They Want to BE... (1) Good parents (2) Sociable, hospitable (3) Up-to-date (4) Creative (5) Proud of their possessions (6) Influential over others (7) Gregarious (8) Efficient (9) "First" in things (10) Recognized as authorities.
They want to DO... (1) Express their personalities (2) Resist domination by others (3) Satisfy their curiosity (4) Emulate the admirable (5) Appreciate beauty (6) Acquire or collect things (7) Win others' affection (8) Improve themselves generally.
They Want to SAVE... (1) Time (2) Money (3) Work (4) Discomfort (5) Worry (6) Doubts (7) Risks (8) Personal embarrassment."
Schwab goes on to talk about your first paragraph in your copy:
You should Follow through with the idea or appeal expressed in the main headline--which is what attracted the reader in the first place.
Be short, with quick, easy-to-read sentences; entice the reader to stay with you into the paragraphs which follow. Perhaps start with a question, one so pertinent or challenging as to grip the reader's interest at once and impel him to keep reading to find the answer.
Start immediately to carry out the reward-for-reading promise made in your headline.
Compress into this paragraph a few of the major advantages of your product. Don't clutter it up with minor claims. In the words of Jim Young, "There are many ways to start an ad, but one of the best, if not the best, is to tell the reader how to get something he already wants."
Schwab says your first paragraph is your most important. If you lose the reader in your opening, you've lost them for good.
Moving on to proof...
Schwab says many advertisements filled with good emotional-appeal copy fail because they do not contain any, or enough, "prove it" facts to carry conviction. Likewise, many advertisements filled with good proof material fail because their emotional-appeal copy is not strong enough to motivate the reader to act. Both factors are needed, for one helps the other along the road toward the goal of action.
He says people need facts and want facts as reasons and excuses for buying--in order to justify to themselves (and to others) a decision which may be based on their emotions alone.
Appeal-to-reason copy actually increases the persuasiveness of appeal-to-emotion copy.
So I'm running out of time on this article. I'll try and come back in a few days and cover the persuasion part and the ask for the sale part.
In the meantime, I'd highly recommend you read the entire book. It was written in the 60's I believe, but it's still relevant for our time.