Ads That Sell
by Chris Kilian, Stealth Promotions
Why advertise, unless you want your ad to
sell? The secrets to successful advertising, ads that sell, are
available if you remember the last time you went fishing. Ever been
fishing? I don't get to go as often as I want, but I have noticed some
truths that apply to successful fishing trips also apply to successful
Whether you are on the water in a boat, on a shoreline, or a pier, you
will notice the same thing happen over and over again. The successful
fisherman goes where the fish are.
Watch the action the next time you go. Everyone stakes out their own
territory, and begins individual efforts to find fish.
After some time, if conditions are right, someone catches a fish.
There are ooos and ahs by those who have caught nothing. However, if no
one else is catching fish, especially if the successful fisherman
catches another, there is a migration towards the area where the action
is. After a while, the successful will have to contend with people right
next to them, but everyone goes home with fish.
The first lesson about ads that sell is to follow the action.
You, as an advertiser, must go where others are. You could be a true
explorer and find your own success alone, and you may wish to do that to
some extent. However, in addition to that strategy, until you find your
own areas where success comes more easily, you should go where others
are advertising now.
As you select your own location or medium for advertising your product
(free classifieds, paid classifieds, usenet groups, newsletters and the
like) follow the action. The first measurement you must assess before
you spend much effort or money is whether others are being successful in
Success breeds competition. Competition gets the medium noticed, which
brings more potential clients, which leads to more success. Success is
contagious. Catch it.
If your offer is not bringing you success, examine where you are placing
I have never caught a fish in a tree, although I have strategically
placed a few lures there. I had all the right gear. The bait was
perfect, but the location was all wrong. I can't catch fish where none
exist. Follow the action, and you will have success rub off on you. You
can leave your bait in a tree, if you wish, (I have) but to succeed with
your offer, put it where you find similar offers.
Ok, so what if you are right next to successful advertisers, and you are
not making sales?
The next lesson for success also comes from lessons learned on the boat.
Have you determined that you are in the right area, your target market
is all around you, but you still get no bites? Examine your bait.
The second lesson for ads that sell is to use appropriate offers for
your target market.
There have been many times, that successful fishermen have had to share
not only their location (which is hard to hide) but their bait.
Look at what the other person is using to be successful. When I was in
the boat, and fish were biting artificial bait, I switched to
artificial. When live bait brought bites, I used live bait.
I matched what I saw was working, rather than foolishly being smart
about what "should" work which leads to more of the same.
Don't you notice that when you find a good medium, there seem to be many
offers that sound the same?
You should do the same. Your offer may be the best thing since sliced
bread, and you should point out your competitive differences, BUT your
offer, at least as you start your venture, should have the look and feel
of other successful offers.
You may feel that your success rate would drop, because there are so
many of the same type of offers there already. The truth is that the
market you want is probably reading many of those same-sounding offers.
They are there because they want to read information about your type of
product or service. They might as well read yours too. If your offer has
the same delivery style (not the same words) you will have potential
clients look at your offer too.
IF you follow my first lesson to follow the action, your chance of
having ads that sell will depend on using an offer that matches your
OK, so you where your target market is with the appropriate offers, but
still no sales?
The third lesson for ads that sell is how you handle your hook.
I love fishing with kids. Their eyes widen with just a nibble, and they
explode with excitement when they get an actual bite. Kids love to fish,
but they are not always as successful as they could be because they
haven't learned how to work with hooks.
Haven't you pulled out your young fishing buddy's line to find the right
bait with the hook exposed? Fish are not sympathetic. When they come to
bait, they can get excited, but they will not bite an exposed hook. That
makes them uncomfortable. A hook must be properly handled to be
Exposed hooks have the same effect on your target market. Tell your
target market what you want them to do too early, and you spook them.
They will see your offer for what it is and run.
However, if you can disguise your offer as something valuable without
your own self-interest screaming at them, they will take the bait.
Empty, naked requests for your target market's money have no more chance
of success than empty hooks in the water. You may catch something
occasionally by accident, but you won't have an ad that sells.
On the other hand, if your advertising is where similar advertising can
be found, explaining an offer that is appropriate to the market,
discussing your reader's interests first, you will have an ad that
OK, so you are following the action, with an appropriate offer, and your
hook is not obvious to your reader, but still no sales?
Your next lesson is to learn how much bait to offer.
Fisherpersons must know how much bait to use for the specific conditions
they are facing. Some types of bait, artificial lures for example, are
complete as they are. They are without discretion. If you have
determined your offer is a one-size fits all offer, this part of the
lesson may not apply to you.
The rest of you should think about children fishing. Have you noticed
that they need your guidance on how much bait to offer at any one time?
If one worm is good, isn't two or three better? That is their
under-developed reasoning process. They don't mind wasting extra bait
(especially before they are required to bait their own hook.)
Unless you have unlimited resources, you must decide how much
information to offer your target market. Your advertising can be very
specific and detailed, or you can be a bit more general, or you can just
tease your market towards your offer. You must decide how much to
deliver in your advertising, and that answer may change with when,
where, and how you are delivering your ads.
The more information or bait your deliver, the more comfortable your
market will be with you. The less you explain, the more intrigued your
audience may be, but you may lose prospects to distrust if they wonder
what you are not telling them.
Online advertising, especially classified advertising or free for all
links phrases, necessarily deliver less content, less bait. The idea is
that it is better to deliver more information later through a web page,
phone, fax autoresponders, email or otherwise. I agree with this idea
for this medium.
Ads that sell are located in places with action with offers attractive
to the market delivering a message your audience wants in an appropriate
OK, so you are following the action with an offer attractive to your
market and your concern for your audience is on display providing the
right amount of information, but still no sales?
The final difference between a meal from the frying pan or a meal from a
drive through window could rest with your ability to set the hook. You
must be able to get your audience to act now.
Ads that sell have an effective call to action.
People are generally resist advertising. They generally want to be left
In contrast to this is a strong self-interest.
That is why advertising is effective. We want to be attractive, smell
better, drive cool cars, use neato gadgets and have a better life. Offer
them that, and you have the audience's interest.
But interest alone is NOT enough. You must give them a reason to ACT on
that interest NOW. Without action, your ad is wasted space. Give them a
reason to act. Set the hook.
Your ad that sells will have four key components. It will create
attention, interest, desire and action.
Actions come from your command to do something. "Email us. Phone
us. Fax us. Contact us. Go to our web pages." If you have an ad
that contains the first three elements, your suggestion to take the next
step towards a sale will be followed.
The final thing to remember about action is timing is critical. Tell
your prospect to do something. Tell them how to do it. Tell them when to
do it. They will.
Once you have an ad that sells, what do you do?
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat......
Like any venture, fishing and advertising take practice and experience.
One thing that can increase success is to take advantage of the right
combination of elements in your ads that sell, and to do it over and
The next lesson is you should repeat successful ads that sell.
While kids may be misguided when they ask for a fistful of bait when a
finger-full would be appropriate, they are right on target in another
area. Once fish are being caught, you can catch more if you use two
lines rather than one. The only problem may be dealing with trying to
land all the fish you are catching.
When your sales offer is getting results, the best and fastest way to
increase your sales is to repeat that combination over and over. You
will know what is working.
You will have your advertising where the action is. It will have an
offer that is appropriate to your audience. Your own self-interest will
be secondary to you reader's desire to gain from your offer. You will be
telling your target market enough but not too much, and when the time is
right, you advertising will cause your audience to act.
You have an ad that sells. Use it.
Chris Kilian is owns Stealth Promotions. (http://www.stealthpromotions.com
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