How To Write A Good Advertisement: A Short Course In Copywriting
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How To Write A Good Advertisement: A Short Course In Copywriting

Victor O. Schwab

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eBook - ePub

How To Write A Good Advertisement: A Short Course In Copywriting

Victor O. Schwab

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About This Book

GET 44 YEARS OF ADVERTISING WRITING EXPERIENCE IN THE TIME IT TAKES TO READ THIS BOOK!You can learn to write compelling advertisements that will make people notice them, read them, and act upon them. In fact, you can learn to write such powerful advertisements that people actually go out and demand the product advertised and no other. How can you do this? By using the same elements that have made top copywriters like Victor O. Schwab excel at their craft.How to Write a Good Advertisement is a short course in writing powerful, hard-hitting copy that can help you make your products and services irresistible to potential customers. This remarkable book has turned many novice mail order entrepreneurs into expert copywriters and many experienced copywriters into masters of their trade.Whether you are new to the craft or have been writing copy for years, your knowledge and practice of advertising fundamentals will determine the extent of your success. How to Write a Good Advertisement presents these fundamentals from the perspective of a 44-year veteran in the copywriting business. Following these proven techniques and tips, anyone can write professional advertisements that create a memorable image, pull in mailboxes full of orders, or attract new customers to their service.LEARN HOW TO: Grab reader attention immediately
Write compelling copy that holds attention
Write a call to action that's difficult to refuse
Design winning layouts
Increase the number of orders
Convert more inquiries to orders
GET ANSWERS TO IMPORTANT TECHNICAL QUESTIONS: Effective advertisement length...use of media placement...and much more.

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There are five fundamentals in the writing of a good advertisement:
1. Get Attention
2. Show People an Advantage
3. Prove It
4. Persuade People to Grasp This Advantage
5. Ask for Action
An advertisement cannot stimulate sales if it is not read; it cannot be read if it is not seen; and it will not be seen unless it can Get Attention. That’s the round robin which Daniel Starch must have had in mind when he wrote “The attention-value of an advertisement is approximately twice as important as the actual convincingness of the test itself.”
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.
You, the advertiser, are the Uninvited Guest—actually, let’s face it, an intruder. No reader asked you, or paid you, to join the party which he is having with the publication he has bought. You paid to get in.
The reader has bought the publication for news, entertainment, or instruction which is of helpful personal value. So that is what your advertisement also has to provide—if you are to stand any chance of competing with the publication’s editorial matter for the interest of the reader. And then, to make him pay you for your product, you must make it pay him to read about it.
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, are “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.
Of course, before your advertisement even has an opportunity to compete for attention against a publication’s editorial matter and the other advertisements in it, there are a few other obstacles which have to be met and overcome.
First, the publication (if delivered by mail to a subscriber) must be unwrapped and at least made ready for reading. Actually, many thousands of copies are not opened, more than at first thought you might imagine. The issues come pretty fast, particularly the weeklies, and many people just “do not get around” to them. That is why advertising men check carefully on the amount of newsstand circulation of a publication. For this represents circulation to people who have actually gone out and purchased single copies, not copies which “come to them” as a result of a subscription ordered previously—perhaps at a cut-price subscription rate so low that the subscriber, having invested so little, can be quite casual about reading them.
Second, the contents of the publication must at least be examined—and the more of the reader’s time which the editorial material in the publication attracts, the better chance your advertisement has of being noticed. Here, however, you again lose a certain additional percentage of potential readership: those who, in spite of how much time they may give to the editorial content of the publication, give very little of it (some readers claim none at all!) to the reading of the advertisements in it.
One survey indicates that the average person reads only four advertisements in the average magazine. Another investigator, George B. Hotchkiss, in his Advertising Copy, tells us that to read a metropolitan newspaper completely through requires at least fourteen hours—and a study made for the Association of National Advertisers cites a survey demonstrating that “over 66 per cent of a large group of business and professional men spent 15 minutes or less in reading daily newspapers.”
Only after these two obstacles have been surmounted can your advertisement face the contest of winning the attention of as many as possible of those who do unwrap the publication, who do examine it with some thoroughness, and who do include the advertisements in their examination or reading. And, to capture that attention, you’ve got to earn it—either with your headline or with your layout, and preferably with both.

How Important Is the Headline?

How important a part does the headline alone play in the accomplishment of our first purpose: Get Attention? Perhaps you have read somewhere that 50 per cent of the value of an entire advertisement is represented by the headline itself. Or 70 per cent. Or 80 per cent. The truth is that you cannot possibly evaluate it in percentages.
For example, what percentage better is an automobile that runs beautifully as compared with one that won’t run at all? It’s the same with headlines. One can be almost a total failure in accomplishing even its primary purpose: to induce people to start reading the body matter (the copy) of the advertisement. Another headline can work almost like magic in enticing readers by the thousands into an ad whose copy moves people to action and thus moves products off the shelves.
Yes, there is really that much difference in the power of headlines. It isn’t enough to cram persuasiveness into the body matter. Some of the most tremendous flops among advertisements contain body matter filled with convincing copy. But it just wasn’t capsuled into a good headline. And so the excellent copy did not even get a reading.
For, obviously, it is 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.
So much for the importance of headlines—and for the staggering waste and loss of effectiveness when expensive advertising space is devoted to displaying poor ones.
What is the sole purpose of a headline? To make it crystal clear we’ll use a simple and sufficiently accurate analogy.
The headline of an advertisement is like a flag being held up by a flagman alongside a railroad track. He is using it to try to get the immediate attention of the engineer of an approaching train—so that he can give him some kind of message. In the case of advertising, on that flag is printed the headline of an advertisement.
Let’s carry the analogy further. The train consists of a fast-moving modern Diesel engine and one car. The engineer will (most often) be the mother and/or father of a family. The one dependent car contains the rest of the family. They are all speeding along the track of their daily lives—moving fast in accordance with the hectic tempo of today.
The message on that flag (the headline of the advertisement) must be persuasive. Yes, and persuasive enough to compete with all the other distractions of life. It must capture attention. And it must offer a “reward for reading.” This reward must be sufficiently attractive to induce the reader to continue reading beyond the headline. (In the case of a negative type of “warning” headline we might even draw a further analogy and go so far as to say that it is then more in the nature of a red flag.)
It is obvious, therefore, that there are two principal attributes of good headlines. They select, from the total readership of the publication, those readers who are (or can be induced to be) interested in the subject of the advertisement. And they promise them a worthwhile reward for reading it.

What Kinds of Rewards Do Good Headlines Promise?

In this chapter we are going to concentrate upon one hundred examples of the two types of headlines which in toto unquestionably have the best record of resultfulness, based upon criteria which will soon be described.
Both types promise desirable rewards for reading. One does it through a positive approach, the other through a negative one. Here is how they do it:
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 elimina...

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