Selling: The Greatest Advertising
Secret Ever Revealed!
By Joe Vitale
Recently I sat on a plane from Phoenix to Austin. I decided to kill some of the two hour flight by flipping through the online magazines and catalog. You've seen them. They are always stuffed in the pocket right before your knees. But what you may not have seen is that virtually all---yes, all---ads violate a secret advertising principle invented more than 100 years ago.
I opened up one of the magazines and there was an ad for magician Lance Burton. I know and like Lance. His shows at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas are well worth seeing. The headline for his full-page, full-color ad read, "You will always remember Lance Burton..."
I love this headline. Why? Because it is hypnotic. It is actually a direct suggestion. Read it again and see what I mean. Isn't it a command?
Also notice that it has Lance's name right in the headline. The great ad-man David Ogilvy said you should strive to put your products name in the headline. The reason being that many people may not read past the headline. So if yours helps install your message in your reader's brain, your un-read ad will still have accomplished something. This could be an ego trip for many people, but it works for Master Magician Lance. Why? Because he IS the product.
Compare that with another headline I saw. This one clearly violates one of the oldest rules in advertising. Even P.T. Barnum knew better than this advertiser, and he died in 1891. The headline on this quarter-page black and white ad simply said, "A Perfect Fit."
Well, what does it mean? Does it engage you? Does it communicate a benefit? If you had to guess what the headline was selling, what would you guess? Go ahead and take a shot....
The ad is for luggage! The sad thing is, you have to read the entire ad to find that out. And the headline isn't intriguing enough---well, it isn't intriguing at all---to get you to read much of the ad. So that advertiser just lost several thousand dollars in running an ad that didn't work. The really sad news is that this happens every day, by advertisers who are forgetting a fundamental ancient truth in marketing.
I'll tell you what that truth is in a moment. But let's continue to look at the online magazines and catalogs.
Another full-page, full-color ad had this headline on it: "Let me give you the secrets of fearless conversation!" Right under that bold statement is the sub-headline: "I promise you the ability to walk into a room full of strangers---and talk to anyone with total confidence, authority and flair."
Whew! Now THAT'S a strong headline. It stops you dead. If you are at all interested in being a better conversationalist---and who isn't?---you will stop and read that ad. It signals a benefit to you. It makes a bold claim. It states a powerful guarantee. This is an ad that follows an old proven truth in advertising.
What is that ancient truth? Simply this: That people do things for selfish reasons. Appeal to their egos and they will do what you want. Write to their emotions and they will open their wallets.
P.T. Barnum knew this more than one hundred years ago. He put his name in his headlines to help create a brand image for his business. He told you what you would get from seeing his circus, or his exhibits. And as a result, Barnum became one of the richest men in the world and one of the first millionaires in early America.
Barnum wasn't the only one to profit from appealing to egos. In 1897---that's right, 1897---Nath'l Fowler, Jr. wrote in his book, "Fowler's Publicity": "Write your advertisements from the customer's standpoint."
It worked in 1897. It worked in 1997. It will work in 2097. It's the greatest advertising secret ever known: Get out of your ego and into your reader's ego and you can GET RICH!
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