The Advertising Graveyard: 4 Ways to Kill Your Ad Response

It’s easy to snuff-out… murder… deep-six your response. Just use one or more of the following four, “straight-to-the-grave” ad-response killers.

Hey, it’s one thing to not know and commit these errors, and quite another to do so despite reading this article.

So here are 4 techniques of copywriting and promotional suicide that you’ll never employ again. (Er, right?)

tomb-21. Write Horrid Headlines—People skim ads until something stops them. Over 83% of people read ONLY the headlines. If your headline features only your business name or a cutesy slogan, you’ll likely miss grabbing the attention of someone who actually wants what you sell!  Solution?  Always put your biggest benefit/offer in your headlines.

Tomb12. Generate GenericsDon’t just sell pizza… sell YOUR pizza.  Don’t sell auto repair… sell YOUR auto repair.  Don’t sell everyone’s web design service… sell YOURS!  Your ads should sell YOU… how YOU are better…why they should buy from YOU.  Want more response? Then stop wasting money advertising products and services in general! If your competitor can use your ad without changing anything except the company name and contact information, you’ve written a money-wasting, generic ad that needs to be revised… fast!

tomb33. Toss the Testimonials—People don’t believe testimonials, right?  WRONG!  They’re one of the most influential parts of any advertising.  Get feedback from customers and feature it in ads, flyers, brochures, sales letters, and your web site.  Psychologists call it “Social Proof”—people want to know that others have successfully gone first. So? Give it to them!

tombstone54. Go Picture-less—According to a study of 2,000 consumers, ads consisting of 50% visuals (photos, illustrations, graphics) were seen and recalled 30% more often than ads with no visuals. So feature some kind of picture in every ad. Photos are best… and action shots are the most effective when they demonstrate the product in use.

Pretty darned simple, right? Now crack open your local newspaper or magazine. Scan a few promotional emails and websites. You’ll see these promotional tombstones everywhere you look. But why? This is basic, foundational stuff, isn’t it?

TombHeaderThe winged skull in this photo isn’t a fun Halloween decoration. It’s the exact death’s head symbol common to many colonial gravestones. It’s often accompanied with an image of a clock and the words, “Fugit Hora“–the hour flies.

It not only flies for each of us… but for our businesses as well. It’s time to get serious about your advertising. Not just regard it as a necessary evil or something that “just needs to be done.” It’s time to consider it the lifeblood of your business. It’s as important as the food on your table and the roof over your head. Your children’s education and medical care.

No doubt you know your product or service inside and out. Now’s the time–if you haven’t yet done so–to learn what makes advertising effective. To learn the many common mistakes to avoid. To at least learn enough to effectively direct others to create effective advertising for you.

Kick over these 4 common “stones” and next time we’ll knock a few more down.

Fugit hora, my friend.




Drew Eric Whitman, D.R.S.
Direct Response Surgeon™

• Author of the advertising best-seller:
“CA$HVERTISING”… now in its 3rd printing from Career Press.
Translated into French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, and Thai.

• Author of: “BrainScripts for Sales Success:
 21 Hidden Principles of Consumer Psychology  for Winning Customers”
Worldwide release in October 2014 by global-publishing
leader McGraw-Hill


Crave Success? Aggressively Target Your Competition!

consulting-image-1Dear Friend:

Why do so many business owners consistently create “crash-and-burn” advertising?

(That’s advertising that flat-out bombs… fizzles… doesn’t work worth a damn.)

It’s not that they don’t want it to work.

(That would be ridiculous, right?)

It’s not that they don’t know their product.

(That would also be kinda nuts, no?)

And we can safely assume that those who’ve been in their business long enough probably know their target audiences pretty well, can’t we?

(If they didn’t, it would surely be wise to learn, right?)

Fact is–even those who know the essentials about creating effective ads–often still create lousy promotions for one key reason…



But it’s true.

As I say in my seminars, “When it comes to their advertising, most business owners are afraid to whisper… when they should be SHOUTING!”

They’re afraid to offend.

They’re afraid to upset… rock the boat… upset the cart… or the “scariest thing of all…”

“I don’t want to make my competition mad at me!”

Can you imagine?

One of your primary focuses as a business owner with competition is, 1) To lure current customers away from your competition and, 2) To steer new prospects to you instead of to them.

… and you don’t want to make your competition… er, “mad at you?”

“But, Drew! If I make them mad, they’ll be even tougher competitors!”

If you’re a real player in the marketplace, do you really think that they don’t already have you in their radar? 

And if you’re not yet a “real player, ” are you saying that you’ll avoid becoming one… simply to not upset your competitors?

Fact is, your competition–if they’re smart–is already doing what they can to: 1) Lure customers away from you, and, 2) Steer prospects away from you so these new prospects become happily involved with them instead of you.

“But, Drew! I can ‘fly under the radar’ and still make customers.”

Perhaps you can, but no plane that always flies under the radar ever reaches great heights.

(This is more than a cutesy expression. It’s an absolute truism in business, as well.)

Meaning, if you don’t “put yourself out there” enough to stir things up among your competitors, you can’t expect to maximize the potential of your success.

That’s because when you “fly under the radar,” not only can’t the radar see you… but neither can crowds of potential customers. And the fact is, most customers won’t come looking for you. They typically find the business that speaks the loudest and the most frequently.

The wise business person understands that you cannot “hide your way to prosperity.”

You must EXTROVERT yourself far beyond what you’re probably currently now doing.

Because the truth is, you need other people to succeed.

You can’t run a fabulously profitable business in a vacuum.

You need people to become involved with you.

To interact with you.

You need to go from obscurity to a known quantity.

(Read that last sentence again.)

And when that happens, more people develop the psychological comfort to give you their money. And none of this happens when you’re safely “flying under the radar,” afraid to upset your competitors.

So… having said all that, here’s a practical prescription you can start using right away that I guarantee will positively lift your response and, therefore, help build your business.

Rx_symbolRx: Start Being Far More Aggressive in Your Advertising… and Sell Directly Against Your Competition!

Make bolder claims! Directly compare your products to your competitors’ and state without hesitation why yours is better. (Spell it out in specifics. Give the data. Use numbers to back up your claims. Don’t just say it… prove it.) Put questions in your advertising that asks why your competitor doesn’t do things that you routinely do.

• Ask why your competitor doesn’t offer the same powerful guarantee that you naturally include with all purchases. “What are they afraid of? What are they hiding?”

• Ask why they don’t tell their customers X (whatever it may be)… when you always put this information right up front for full disclosure.

• Ask why they don’t make their X fresh every day, but get theirs trucked in  rock-hard frozen from halfway across the country.

• Ask why they’re so slow to deliver… when you deliver superior quality in half the time.

• Ask why they force their customers into a endless voice mail loop instead of having live, friendly customer service reps waiting for their call.

So you see, you don’t need to bash their products directly by overtly saying they’re inferior. And you don’t need to call them by name. You allude to their inferiority by asking questions that instill doubt and suggesting how what you’re doing is better. It’s a calculated method that helps re-position the competition in their heads. It taps into the average consumer’s proclivity to shop using heuristic decision making. 

Pronounced “hyu-RIS-tik”, it’s a derivative of the Greek word “heuriskein” meaning “to discover”. Heuristics pertain to the process of gaining (or “discovering”) knowledge, not by critical thinking and reasoning, but by intelligent guesswork.

Let’s face it. Most humans are lazy creatures.

Most of us prefer to take the quickest route to arriving at decisions, because doing so eliminates the hard work—the “pain”—of thinking, and the need to consider all the—sometimes complex or overwhelming—details. If we can make a decision quickly, then we can get back to doing more fun stuff… like watching ridiculous videos on YouTube.

And when it comes to using our brains, for many of us, most anything is more pleasurable than engaging in deep thought. Inventor-genius Thomas Edison said it best, “There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the labor of thinking.”

Heuristic decision making to the rescue! You see, if we’re exposed to the right type of information, our “mental trains” will stay on their peripheral processing tracks and pull into the station fully prepared to make a decision in seconds or minutes instead of hours, days, or longer.

So what these questions do, then, is provide the “food” that feeds your prospects’ heuristic hunger. It gives them reason to question your competition. It put them in a position of either accepting what you’ve said, or questioning it.

Do you see the power of this?

If they accept it, you’ve almost got them. Now all you need to do it make it easy to buy.

If they question what you’ve said, you’ve successfully installed doubt. And that means they’re now faced with the discomfort of cognitive dissonance: holding two opposing thoughts in their minds at the same time. Something that human beings dislike intensely.

Do you see what’s happening here?

Your prospects are now faced with the challenge of removing the doubt that you installed in order to resolve the dissonance. And doing that means work. And that’s when you capitalize on human inertia. Humans don’t like work. They’ll try to avoid it at all costs.

The result? They often accept the information you present as factual because it helps them avoid doing the legwork and brainwork to find out for themselves.

This is the power of installing doubt using an aggressive approach that directly targets your competition.

Try it… and start flying profitably above the radar.

Or keep flying low… and watch new prospects open their minds–and wallets–to your competition.


Drew Eric Whitman, D.R.S.
Direct Response Surgeon™