19 Secrets That Increase Response to Ads

Increase response to ads - advertising illustration

Has this ever happened to you?

  • You bought an ad in the newspaper and you didn’t get a single call…
  • You aired a radio or TV commercial and nothing happened…
  • You ran a magazine ad and it’s as if no one ever saw it…
  • Or, you received calls but they weren’t from the right people — or the calls didn’t generate even one new client.

If you’re like most marketers, you want your dollars to work hard. You want more inquiries — clients — money! Advertisers often waste money testing the same ad in different publications. And while the publication can make a big difference, in truth, the problem is probably how your ad is written. So, to help you save money, time, and aggravation—and to help you keep from losing business to competitors, here are popular secrets to increase response to ads:


Secret #1. Make Sure Your Ad Has One Large, Dark Element.

It may be a heavy black headline, a photograph or an illustration — anything that’s big and dark. Try this: Open a newspaper and notice which ad you see first. You’ll discover that the ad that gets your attention right away is the ad that contains the largest and darkest single element. Now you can see that it isn’t always the biggest ad that draws the most attention. A small ad can draw more attention than a big ad if the small ad contains the largest and darkest headline or picture on the page.

Secret #2. Make Sure Your Headline Is Large & Bold.

Narrow typefaces aren’t wide enough to attract attention. So make sure the type you choose for your headline is large, wide, bold and easy to read. This way, the person scanning the page can’t help but see your headline. And if your headline contains a powerful message, it will seize your reader’s attention and stop them in their tracks.

Secret #3. Use a Simple Layout and Avoid Clutter.

One large picture works better than several small pictures. You want to help your prospect’s eyes flow smoothly from the top left corner to the bottom right corner of your ad. If you obstruct that flow, make sure the obstruction is a vital part of your advertising message.

Secret #4. Never Let Your Artwork Overwhelm the Wording.

What you say is always more important than how it looks. To say it another way, your message is always more important than the art. Don’t use so many photos or illustrations that your reader can’t follow your message. No matter what you’re advertising, never let your artwork overpower your words. Make sure that your artist understands and abides by this basic rule.

Secret #5. Don’t Print Words Across a Photograph or an Illustration.

This does not mean not printing above or below the photograph. It means do not print on top of a photograph or illustration, even if the photo appears only faintly on the page. When you print words across a photograph, you shoot yourself in the foot because, in most cases, the words are simply too hard to read. As a result, the reader leaves the page and you lose a prospect. If you want to make your ad artistic or stylish, find another way. Talk to an experienced professional if you need help.


Secret #6. Get the Main Point of Your Message into Your Headline.

Four out of five readers do not read past the headline. So, if you depend on the body of your ad to tell your story, you’re wasting 80% of your money. The headline is the only part of the ad most people read.

Secret #7. Make Sure The Headline Spells the Benefits.

Every headline has one job: to stop your prospect and get them to read your ad. The quickest and easiest way to stop your prospect is by promising them something they want. So, in the headline, tell your reader how they would benefit from using your products and services.

Secret #8. Your Headline Should Set You Apart.

Your headline should point out how you differ from your competition. If your prospect doesn’t know your unique position to serve them, they have no reason to choose you over someone else. Highlight your “competitive advantages” and give your prospects a good reason to select you over everybody else.

Secret #9. Don’t Skimp on the Facts.

If you want your prospect to hire you, you need to answer every question he might ask. This means you’ll be lengthy, but don’t worry. Long copy sells. Not because it’s long, but because it’s complete. If you reach an interested prospect, they will read all the copy you give them. You can’t expect your prospect to hire you if they don’t have enough information to make a decision.

Secret #10. If You Make a Claim, Prove It.

Support your claims with facts, figures, testimonials, case studies. Remember, words like “quality”, “value”, and “results” aren’t proof of anything. They’re simply unsupported claims. Positive, specific statements build the credibility you need so your prospect believes what you say.

Secret #11. Get to the Point. FAST!

Your prospect’s first question is always, “What’s in it for me?” Many ad writers take too long to get to the main benefit. Don’t save your most important benefit until last. Put it in the first paragraph. The rule in advertising says to Fire Your Biggest Gun First.

Secret #12. Write the way you talk.

Always use down-to-earth, everyday language. Ask yourself, would most of my prospects understand what I’m saying? When you write in plain English, you increase your ad’s readership. And the better your readership, the better your response. Look for ways to warm up your copy — to make it more friendly and personal.

Secret #13. Tell People What They’ll Lose If They Don’t Buy.

Remember this important principle: the fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain. This means your prospect fears losing something MORE than he wants to gain or achieve something. Many ads tell prospects what they’ll gain by buying a product or service: increased profits, lower taxes, more protection, added flavor, faster relief. But if you want to add even more power to your message, also point out what your prospect will lose if they don’t buy. Here’s an example of someone trying to persuade people to transfer their money from a savings account to an insurance annuity. “By keeping your money in a 3% savings account, you and your loved ones lose $25.00 every day. Don’t let your nest egg slip through your fingers. Haven’t you lost enough money already? Today, move your account to our new 6% annuity and give your family the guaranteed income and protection they deserve. Otherwise, you’ll lose another $25.00 tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.” Do you see how powerful the message becomes when you point out what the prospect loses by not acting?

Secret #14. Don’t Waste Words.

Examine each word in your ad. Is it necessary? Does it help get your prospect to act now? If it doesn’t help, it hurts — because it distracts your reader from the important parts of your message. If you don’t need a word, get rid of it. Lean writing looks better, reads better, and it’s easier to understand. It moves your prospect to action. So don’t waste words.

Secret #15. Tell Your Prospect Exactly What You Want Them to Do.

It’s amazing how many ads don’t ask the reader to do anything. They simply hope the reader can figure it out for himself. If your prospect is interested enough to read your ad, they want to know how to respond. So tell them what you want them to do: “Call for your free brochure.” “Call to schedule your free consultation.” “Register now for our free seminar.” If you want your prospect to respond, don’t leave them guessing. Tell them exactly what you want them to do.

Capturing Response

Secret #16. Invite Phone Calls.

Many people are shy. They want to talk with you, but they often feel that a phone call is an intrusion. They don’t want to interrupt what you’re doing, so they hesitate to call. Eventually, their reluctance becomes permanent and you’ve lost another client. Make sure prospects know you welcome their calls and you’re happy to talk with them over the telephone.

Secret #17. Make Sure Your Phone Number is Easy to Find and Read.

If your prospect reads your ad, don’t make it hard for them to respond. Feature your telephone number in large, easy-to-read, bold type. No fancy scripts. No fine print. If your reader can’t find your phone number — or if they have trouble reading it — they won’t bother. They will call your competitors.

Secret #18. Offer to Consult Over the Phone.

Interacting with you in person is often a burden to your prospect. If your hours end at 5 p.m., your prospect may need to take time off work to have contact with you. Then they will have to fight traffic and find a place to park. Plus they may have to rush their meeting with you so they can get back to work on time. When you offer to give at least an initial consultation over the phone, you make getting to know you convenient for your prospect. And it helps you establish your credibility in a calm, unhurried phone call. Then, when you bring up an in-person meeting, your prospect will be more open to your suggestion.

Secret #19. Direct People To Your Website Only if it is Ready for Lead Capture.

When you invite your prospect to interact with your business online, make sure your website, landing pages and other touchpoints are optimized for the best user experience. Your websites should have great loading speed and be accessible. Also, check your web forms to ensure they capture information correctly and forward it to the right destination once the form is submitted. Consider adding an online chat to your website. People today often would rather use a web-based chat interface than make a phone call.

This is it! We hope these tips will help you get better response rates for your next advertising campaign. As a bonus, here is a list of seven reasons for not responding to an ad:

7 Reasons Prospects Don’t Respond To Your Ads

Reason #1: Prospects don’t see your ad because nothing attracts your prospect’s eyes to your ad.

Reason #2: Prospects don’t read your ad because the headline doesn’t seize their attention.

Reason #3: Prospects don’t respond to your ad because your wording is weak and uninteresting.

Reason #4: Prospects don’t believe what you say in your ad.

Reason #5: Prospects don’t respond to your ad because your offer is not clear.

Reason #6: Prospects don’t respond because they don’t know what action you want them to take.

Reason #7: Prospects intend to respond to your ad but they aren’t motivated to act now. They set your ad aside, something else comes up and you may be history. Try different targeting strategies to reach your prospects at the right time.

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