Some advertising claims are so hard to swallow that their headlines – instead of being an “ad for the ad” – just give readers an excuse to bail out the moment after they’re read.
We’re not talking about unschooled business owners, where “advertiser B” ups “advertiser A’s” promise of losing 12 pounds in a weekend instead of 9.
No, what we’re referring to is the average reader’s reaction to a claim like: ending a lifetime of pain in an afternoon. Or ordering shellfish by mail order. Claims which on their face are far easier to dismiss than believe.
Try to persuade someone with a standard “benefit headline” that there’s a simple $19 shoe insert that’ll vanquish years of excruciating foot or ankle pain and you’ll chase prospects away faster than a firework does a flock of pigeons.
It doesn’t matter how accurate the claim. It’s what your prospects believe that counts.
Without Belief…There’s No Sale
Take the position of your prospect. Become the doubting Thomas your prospect is. There’s no better place to attack their objection than by raising it yourself in the headline.
Yes, it takes some guts.
The tendency is to make the big promise, tell about all the great benefits and overcome the awkward objection in the fine print. But a lot of prospects flee before you get a chance.
Here are a few examples:
- “Crazy as it Sounds, Shares of This Tiny R&D Company, Selling for $2 Today, Could be Worth as Much as $100 in the Not-Too-Distant Future.” This clever ad writer is acknowledging disbelief in the headline. He knows that without it, you’ll say “yeah right, another pumped up stock pitch” and move on.
- “Who Ever Heard of 17,000 Blooms from a Single Plant?” Eugene Schwartz wrote this ad in 1958 and it cleared the shelves of plant nurseries from coast-to-coast. “Who’s ever heard of this before?” sides with the skeptical reader and acknowledges this is a stretch to believe.
- “If I told you that I can end a lifetime of foot pain instantly, you probably wouldn’t believe me.” Harvey Rothschild of Featherspring International knows his market. And like a master judo practitioner, he absorbs this natural skeptical energy and then channels it in a positive direction toward the sale. His product and his claim demand that he do this instead of the usual ducking for cover.
But the ad writer goes on to raise every single objection you could have for not buying
He uses a folksy me-to-you style of copy, tells you that you can actually steam the lobsters in the container they’re shipped in without getting your hands dirty, and offers a full money back guarantee.
Of course, he explains the re-icing process that happens when the lobsters are shipped by 1st Class Railway Express. He also cleverly uses specificity by prominently mentioning his 18,685 delighted customers. And then he gives you a choice of which package to order. There’s no “yes” or “no” option. It’s take your pick of four seafood feasts.