The best advice in any field has always been to learn from the best examples. In other words – copy the masters. When you copy their style, you develop your own. This applies to ad writing too.
The best ad writers know what makes an ad sell – and they always deliberately employ these things to great effect.
Let’s learn from some old ads, which really sold well. The writers knew their craft. It’s our turn to profit from their work.
Are you ready? Let’s zoom in now…
Advert one: An ad for distance learning – it appeared in 1919
The top of the ad had a picture of a man handing cash to a woman. Underneath this was the headline:
“Here’s an Extra $50, Grace – I’m making real money now!”
And the lead paragraph went like this: ‘“Yes, I’ve been keeping it a secret until pay day came. I’ve been promoted with an increase of $50 a month. And the first extra money is yours. Just a little reward for urging me to study at home. The boss says my spare time training has made a valuable man to the firm and there’s more money coming soon. We’re starting up easy street, Grace, thanks to you and the I.C.S.!”’
Now some brief lessons so far…
The picture grabs attention, and contributes to the story.
Both headline and lead sentences are testimonial based. Good testimonial always sell ads. The headline also uses the factor of curiosity to effect. It makes the reader ask questions. It prompts the reader to find those answers in the ad.
But there’s more…
The lead paragraph gives want-based benefits. The paragraph after it gives need-based benefits and exploits the emotions based on fear. Then comes another paragraph telling the reader it’s easy to do, since thousands of people have done it. Following this is the paragraph that makes the whole thing credible. Human being always doubt. So credibility helps to them to buy. And the last paragraph pushes the sales in this form:
‘You have the same chance they (referring to successful students) had. What are you going to do with it? Can you afford to let a single priceless hour pass without at least finding out what the I.C.S can do for you? Here is all we ask – without cost, without obligating yourself in any way, simply mark and mail this coupon.’
What a perfect way to push a sale? This ad was to get interested people to request more information. Such ads are called lead generation ads. The idea is, once they have these interested people, they will then target specific follow-up messages to them to seal the sale.
You can get a complete analysis of the ad by clicking this link.
Advert two: an ad for a bathing soap – used as a natural beauty treatment
It had editorial lay-out and three pictures. The first picture, located top right of the page, showed a woman washing her face. In the middle of the page was a larger picture of a woman observing herself in the mirror. And the third picture appeared far below the page. It contained the picture of the soap and its retail price.
The headline read, ‘Why Ordinary Beauty Treatments Fail – you must wash your face, too.’
And the lead paragraph also went like this:
‘The secret of a successful beauty treatment lies in protecting the natural loveliness underneath rouge and powder. Cosmetics can enhance beauty but they cannot create it. And many woman, unaware of the importance of washing for beauty, are unconsciously endangering complexion loveliness every day.’
The other paragraphs detailed how exactly women were endangering themselves with cosmetics. It gave washing of their faces with their soap as the solution to this danger. It concluded by inviting women to even go beyond washing their faces with the soap to using it for bathing, because it’s inexpensive.
Other smaller side bars contained instructions for both night and day treatments. And at the bottom border was the inscription, ‘KEEP THAT SCHOOLGIRL COMPLEXION.’
The main lesson is this…the ad is information packed about what constitutes beauty treatment. It’s also an easy and enjoyable read. It invites you to read further.
Advert three: ad for beer
Headline, ‘Perfection of 50 Years’
The lead sentence read, ‘Back of each glass of Schlitz Beer there is an experience of fifty years.’
The next two paragraphs tell a story of how the brewing business started from its humbling beginnings in a hut. Human being love stories. So this strategy tempts the reader to read further. The ad goes ahead to detail all the work the brewery does to get the best for the consumer. From the selection of hops and barley to bottling and sterilization. The reader sees the work and feels that these people have her interest at heart. She must buy from them.
Now see the conclusion for yourself. See how the ad pushes the sale…
‘Ask for beer, and you get the beer that best suits your dealer. He may care more for his profits than for your health. Ask for Schlitz, you get the best beer that the world ever knew.’
Advert four: A 1959 ad for a car
Mr. David Ogilvy wrote this ad. It had editorial lay out as usual. Top of page had picture of the car being advertised. With a man in the driver’s seat..waiting for two ladies. Beneath this came the headline:
‘“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”’
This is another testimonial based headline. Below the headline was another inscription, ‘What makes Rolls-Royce the best car in the world? “There is really no magic about it – it is merely patient attention to detail,” says an eminent Rolls-Royce engineer.’”
The writer proceeds to list all the features and benefits to this car. Over 12 of them. But he begins with a testimonial from Technical Editor of THE MOTOR. This gives credibility and promotes sales. The ad gives specific details about testing, brakes and things that matter to car owners.
How does Mr. Ogilvy push the sale? Check this out, ‘If you would like the rewarding experience of driving a Rolls-Royce or Bentley, write or telephone to one of the dealers listed on the opposite page.’
Advert five: An ad for men shirts
Another work of Mr. Ogilvy. So what do you expect? Editorial lay out and a picture, of course. The picture has man with an eye patch, wearing a long-sleeved shirt and tie – with people taking his measurements.
The headline exploits curiosity of the human being. It makes you think of a story.
It says, ‘The man in the Hathaway shirt’.
Now, take a look at the lead sentence: ‘AMERICAN MEN are beginning to realize that it is ridiculous to buy good suits and then spoil the effect by wearing an ordinary, mass-produced shirt. Hence the growing popularity of HATHAWAY shirts, which are in a class by themselves.’
The second paragraph gives want based benefits. The third paragraph details how fabric for shirts are got and how the shirts are made. The fourth paragraph tells the reader the people who make these shirts and how long the company has been doing it – one hundred and fifteen years. This gives credibility.
How does Mr.Ogilvy push the sale? He does it this way, ‘At better stores everywhere, or write C.F. HATHAWAY, Waterville, Maine, for the name of your nearest store. In New York, telephone MU 9-4157. Prices from $5.50 to $25.00.’
Finally, you’re done. I hope you found a thing or two worth adding to your knowledge bank. You may contact me for full copies of the ads for study. Send a request through the contact page of this blog. Once you receive, take time to study them. And see what happens.