Tuesday, September 21, 2010

3 Tested Advertising Methods

If you write ads for your small business, you should know about John Caples.

His book, Tested Advertising Methods, is perhaps the best ever on advertising copywriting.

Here's why: Caples' insights were all backed up by extensive mail-order advertising, dating back to 1919.

In mail-order ads, which are a form of direct-response advertising, results are tracked to the dollar.

These ads are salesmanship in print. In writing them, you quickly learn what works and what doesn't based on which ads pull the most sales. You can spot mail-order ads by their strong headlines, calls to action ("Order Now"), deadlines, and other key elements.

Institutional ads, by contrast, aim to be clever first and sell later (or never). You can spot them by their funny (or missing) headlines, lack of calls to action, lack of deadlines ... and lack of results.

I could go on, but won't.

Instead, here are 3 lessons you can learn from John Caples (of at least 57 I could give you) ...

1. The key to success in your advertising lies in continual testing.

Thanks to free technology like Google Website Optimizer, you can test your online ads in a fraction of the time and hassle that Caples had to endure when testing via mail order.

What is testing?

It's pitting one or more ads against each other to find the one that sells more. The most common form is split-testing (also called A/B testing), wherein you run two ads that are identical except for one element, such as the headline or price. One ad will beat another. Create a new ad and try to beat it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat ... and your sales will always go up, up, up -- never down.

2. The headline is the most important part of most ads.

The most effective headlines appeal to the reader's self interest or give news. Long headlines that say something are more effective than short headlines that say nothing. One headline can outsell another by as much as 19.5 times.

3. The simplest way to test any ad you write is to put it aside and read it the next day.

When you do, you will read it with fresh, analytical eyes. You will see things you missed the day before. Your ad will always improve as a result. Always.

Note: Don't hire any copywriter to write so much as a grocery list for you if s/he hasn't read Tested Advertising Methods at least three times.

(Kevin M. Donlin is author of the Special Report, Guaranteed Marketing for Small Business Professionals.)

1 comment:

  1. I've actually never heard of John Caples but I will definitely be going to the library to see if they have his book.