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What I Know About Writing Ads I Learned In High School

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Fishing For Customers - Free Small Business Marketing and Advertising Tools, Tips, Articles, Strategies, and Advice. Fishing For Customers: What I Know About Writing Ads I Learned In High School

Friday, December 16, 2005

What I Know About Writing Ads I Learned In High School

On August 23, 1969 the late Carol Jacobson began teaching us how to write effective advertising. By us, I mean the English composition class of Alamo High School, Alamo, North Dakota.

Oh, she didn’t call it effective advertising. She called it "writing." Mrs. Jacobson believed that people who could write a persuasive essay could write anything.

I’ve been using the structure she taught us to create advertising copy for the last thirty years.

Mrs. Jacobson used a diagram similar to this one:

The Attention-Getting Headline, sometimes called the First Mental Image, is what draws you into the ad.

Once you have the prospect's attention, lead up to the Persuasive Proposition.

Mrs. Jacobson called this part the thesis. Sometimes it’s called the Value Proposition. Rosser Reeves called it the Unique Selling Proposition.

Regardless of what it’s called, this is the main point of our ad. This is the one thought that we want to stick in people’s minds.

We usually use three points (or benefits) to convince our prospect of the validity of our Persuasive Proposition. For some reason three is a magic number. Any fewer, the proposition appears weak. Any more and you run the risk of a long and boring list.

Exception: If you're targeting Transactional Shoppers, and are showing off items included in your big sale, three groups of three items is magic. "They come in red, blue, and yellow; with zippered front, buttons, or pullover; and are available in medium, large, and extra large.")

Finally, the Call To Action tells your prospect what you want her to do next.

Get familiar with this diagram. You can use it to create effective advertising copy for radio, for newspapers, for flyers, for sales letters, for television ads.

Next time we'll use the diagram to create actual ads.


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