One-on-one advertising, that is direct response advertising, is designed to solicit some type of action from the viewer.
It may also have the side benefits of building a companies brand or attaching credibility to a product, but the main desired outcome is still related to getting the customer to take a specific action.
One step response selling is pretty simple: the prospect sees the ad, reads the copy, is prompted to click on the “Buy Now” button, and leaves with a digital file of some type that will help him solve a problem, fulfill a desire or enjoy a passion.
In a two step direct response ad, the customer is prompted to take some action (not purchase initially) like register a name and address, download a free e-book, or watch a short video clip.
This first action is generally designed to provide some type of partial benefit to the prospect, or create a sense of urgency or scarcity, or build a swelling desire for the latest model, or to educate the buyer on the benefits of ordering the widget now because there are only 4 left!
Direct response is most effective when it’s kept simple, straightforward, and each succeeding step toward a purchase is obvious and the only logical action to take.
Here are ten of the elements that I have noticed in great direct response ads that have been memorable to me:
1. An inviting and attention-grabbing headline. Without fail, good ads always begin with an effective headline. It is the hook that grabs the casual viewer around the neck and pulls him quickly into the ad story. How many consumers simply jump into a story, a load of text, or a sales page without first being “stopped in their tracks” by a headline that grabs their attention? Nobody does that.
2. Great ads very often tell stories that elicit feeling and emotion from the prospect. He sees himself in the middle of the dream or the picture that is painted on his behalf. The customer visualizes what it would be like to be rich, or thin, or world famous, or younger looking, or . . . you name it! We dream of being different, of being our best self, being something that will change others’ opinions of us right now.
3. Direct response ads clearly expound the benefits to be provided by the product once it’s in the customer’s hands. Benefits are measurable increases in utility, or feelings of satisfaction. They are real measurable savings in time or money. Benefits are not to be confused with features which are the properties built into a product. Most buyers don’t care about features – they don’t care how something works. All they care about is “what is this product going to do for me?” What will I look like, or be like, or act like once I have purchased and used this product?
4. Good ads leave no question as to exactly which problems will be solved once the product is purchased and the user tries it out. Good ads are very specific about “increasing your memory three-fold in just 24 hours,” “melting away 35 pounds of fat in seven days,” or “adding an extra $2,465 dollars to your bank account within two weeks.”
5. The best direct response ads give usable and valuable information to the customer. But they leave him wanting more — which can only be had in the purchase of the advertised product. People crave solid, specific information that they can act upon to solve a problem, make life easier, or gain some advantage. The best ads paint very visual and tantalizing images of the buyer getting the promised results by simply making a purchase and putting the product through its paces.
6. Another element of good direct marketing ads that I’ve noticed is an informal and conversational style that is almost like two neighbors jawing over the back fence. Forget formality, pomp and high society. Most of us would rather converse in everyday language and a relaxed personal setting. Direct marketing is not the place to practice eloquence or perfect English!
7. There is always a prominent and strong offer of some type. Direct response requires that the customer be shown an offer and told exactly what to do to claim that offer. If the offer or the procedure for taking advantage of it is confusing in any way, chances are good the sale will not be made. Effective copy writers lead the prospect to the well, put a cup in his hand, pour it full of water, and help him raise his arm to drink, NOW!
8. There are usually unexpected bonuses and additional “kickers” that are included (sometimes for the first 25 buyers only) to add value and scarcity to the deal and push the reluctant buyers over the top into the action crowd. Often these bonuses are given extreme value like “this information sold like hotcakes on its own for $995 . . . but if you buy before midnight tomorrow, we’ll throw it into the package and let you steal it outright!”
9. Direct response ads often play upon the prospect’s fear of losing the opportunity to buy if he doesn’t gobble it up right now. “You snooze, you lose!” “This offer will vanish at midnight on Tuesday!” “We only printed 50,000 copies and when they’re gone, they’re gone!”
10. Great direct response ads are often duplicated and re-purposed from one marketplace to another. This should come as no surprise. If something works well in one industry, there is a good chance that the same ad format and layout might appeal to prospects in a completely different market.
As you craft your next ad, think about the purpose and strategy of trying to get an immediate action out of your prospects. It will guide your copy and the structure of the ad outline toward a very specific outcome that you intend. It will allow you to lead the prospect by the hand in going from one step to the next to the next ending in pressing the “Buy Now” button!
To your online business success!