Secrets of the Masters:
31-derfully Simple Ways to Make Your Ads Generate More Inquiries

A client recently phoned with a problem I'd encountered many times before.

" Our new ad campaign's main goal is to create awareness and build image, not generate sales leads," the ad manager explained. "But my management still tends to judge ads by counting the number of inquiries they bring in. Is there some way I can increase my ad's pulling power without destroying the basic campaign concept?"

Fortunately, the answer is "yes."

There are proven techniques you can use to increase any ad's pulling power, whether your main goal is inquiries or image. Here are 31 techniques that can work for you:

  1. Ask for action. Tell the reader to phone, write, contact his sales rep, request technical literature, or place an order.
  2. Offer free information, such as a color brochure or catalog.
  3. Describe your brochure or catalog. Tell about its special features – for example, a selection chart, planning guide, installation tips, or other useful information it contains.
  4. Show a picture of your brochure or catalog.
  5. Give your literature a title that implies value. "Product Guide" is better than "catalog." "Planning Kit" is better than "sales brochure."
  6. Include your address in the last paragraph of copy and beneath your logo in type that is easy to read. (Also, place it inside the coupon, if you use one.)
  7. Include a toll-free number in your ad.
  8. Print the toll-free number in extra-large type.
  9. Put a small sketch of a telephone next to the phone number. Also, use the phrase "Call toll-free."
  10. Create a hotline. For example, a filter manufacturer might have a toll-free hotline with the number 1-800-FILTERS. Customers can call the hotline to place an order or get more information on the manufacturer's products.
  11. For a full-page ad, use a coupon. It will increase response 25% to 100%.
  12. Make the coupon large enough that readers have plenty of room to write in their name and address.
  13. Give the coupon a headline that affirms positive action: "Yes, I'd like to cut my energy costs by 50% or more."
  14. Give the reader multiple response options: "I'd like to see a demonstration" … "Have a salesperson call" … "Send me a free planning kit by return mail."
  15. For a fractional ad – one-half page or less – put a heavy dashed border around the ad. This creates the feel and appearance of a coupon, which, in turn, stimulates response.
  16. In the closing copy for your fractional ad, say "To receive more information, clip this ad and mail it to us with your business card."
  17. A bound-in business reply card, appearing opposite your ad, can increase response by a factor or two or more.
  18. Use a direct headline – one that promises a benefit or stresses the offer of free information – rather than a headline that is cute or clever.
  19. Put your offer of a free booklet, report, selection guide, or other publication in the headline of your ad.
  20. Offer a free gift, such a slide rule, metric-conversion table, pocket ruler, etc.
  21. Offer a free product sample.
  22. Offer a free consultation, analysis, recommendation, study, cost estimate, computer printout, etc.
  23. Talk about the value and benefits of your free offer. The more you stress the offer, the better your response.
  24. Highlight the free offer in a copy subhead. For example, the last subhead of your ad could read "Get the facts – Free."
  25. In a two-page ad, run copy describing your offer in a separate sidebar.
  26. Be sure the magazine includes a reader-service number in your ad.
  27. Use copy and graphics that specifically point the reader toward using the reader-service number. For example, an arrow pointing to the number and copy that says "For more information, circle reader-service number below."
  28. Consider using more than one reader-service number. For example, one number for people who want literature and another for people who want an immediate response from a salesperson.
  29. In a full-page ad for multiple products, have a separate reader-service number for each product or piece of literature featured in the ad.
  30. Test different ads. Keep track of how many inquiries each ad pulls. Then run only those ads that pull the best.
  31. Look for a sales appeal, key benefit, or theme that may be common to all of your best-pulling ads. Highlight that theme in subsequent ads.

[Board Member and friend, Bob Bly, is heading up AWAI's new program to help students start (or jump-start) their freelance copywriting careers. It's called "Selling Yourself as a Copywriter: How to Earn $100,000 a Year!" and it includes three 1-hour, live teleconferences with Bob, sample letters of agreement, password protected access to the new editon of AWAI's website, and more. For more information call Denise at 561-278-5557 or watch for Bob's email tomorrow. Don't forget to ask for our Early Bird discount.]

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: March 3, 2003

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