SUMMARY: I saw an ad that promised to make me $1.8 million richer. Do you believe it? Neither did I. The ad was a lie. If you want to have a successful ad, you need to be credible.
The headline read: “How to be $1,835,360 richer. Win 95.12% of all trades.” It was an ad for trading options.
Do you believe that headline? Neither do I! Somebody once told me that if it’s too good to be true, it really is too good to be true.
Good things about the ad
#1. I love the advertorial look. An advertorial is an ad that looks like a new story. Believe it or not, these kinds of advertorial ads have a 40% higher readership than ads that looks like ads. If I truly want to sell something in the newspaper, I use this approach.
#2. This ad used a copy-heavy approach. Lots of words. If someone were looking to be $1.8 million dollars richer, they would have lapped up every word.
#3. This ad had tons of short paragraphs, short sentences, and short words. Readers like short looking ads.
#4. There was a call to action at the bottom of the ad. Plus a fill-in-the-blank coupon.
#5. The ad was broken up with subheadings. Again, another good technique. Subheadings that said: Proven results… A special free report… Special free video… and the final headline was my favorite: Learn with no risk.
#6. The ad was full of benefits. The common man who wants to make an easy million would have believed these lies because they looked like benefits.
Bad things about the ad
#1. It was unbelievable. Do you really believe that you can be over $1.8 million dollars richer 95% of the time?
#2. The subheadings lied. One subheading said, “You will still lose nothing even if you are absolutely 100% absolutely wrong.” Hogwash!
#3. It was contradictory. On one part of the ad it said: “And it’s yours free if I hear from you within 72 hours.” But at the bottom of the ad he says “Send your check or money order for $39 or use your credit card.” I can’t tell, is it free or is it not free?
#4. It was filled with glittering generalities and no hard-core specifics. Yes, there was a comparison chart that showed how much money you could make but there is no proof to it.
And that leads me to my point today.
This ad was oozing with lies, overstatements, innuendos and misrepresentations.
If you want to have a successful ad, you need to be credible. You must add credibility to be trusted and believed. It’s sad but true: many companies over-exaggerate. And some flat out lie just to get the consumer to buy.
How do you know if you have a credible ad?
It’s easy: give it the mother test. After you’re done writing any ad, ask this question: Would my mother believe the claims I made in this ad?
I don’t know about you, but I know I cannot lie to my mother! She knows when I’m stretching the truth or bending the facts. Your ads should be just as credible. They should pass the “mother” test.
How to create credible ads
First, you should be credible and honest in the first plan. Just plain don’t lie in your ads.
Second, know that consumers are smarter than ever and can do their homework quickly through the Internet and with smart phones.
Third, most savvy shoppers will gather information before buying. They want to make the right decision. To persuade them, you must “make your case.”
So, as you are trying to make your case, what would your customers like to know? What do they want to see or hear to feel they had enough information and be in control of making the best possible decision?
Here’s your assignment. Make a list of things that would prove your case. What would the typical prospect need to see or hear to feel they had enough information and be in control of making the best possible decision?
It is not enough to communicate benefits or features. You must also prove your claims. Please, don’t be like the ad that claims I can be $1.8 million dollars richer and win 95% of all trades. Because I know you’re lying to me.
THINK ABOUT IT: How do you know if you have a credible ad? It’s easy—you give it the “mother” test.
• • •
Ask a question where the reader can relate to
Who is this ad talking to? Would this headline work today as well as it did in 1960?
How many times have you tried to lost weight? How many times were you successful?
The headline is masterful because it talks to the heart of the issue: dieters who have been unsuccessful.
When I see the headline, I relate. Immediately.
And when I read the copy, I am reassured that I’m not really a weak man when it comes to losing weight—that 9 out of 10 others are right there with me!
This ad was created by the advertising agency Young & Rubican.
Whoever wrote this ad understand people.
Take a look at the illustration. It’s not condescending. It’s not saying, “poor you.”
Yes, the ad talks straight. But it’s not depressing.
(SOURCE: The Best Advertisements from Reader’s Digest, Random House, 1962.)