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Last week, I covered the five steps you need to take before you spend a dime on advertising. This week's article will help you make sure the money you do spend on advertising gives you the return you're looking for.

I've been crafting direct response television and radio advertising for 25 years. The following time-tested seven-step approach to crafting a commercial will help you to grab your customers' attention and get the response you're looking for.

1. Present the problem

Start by presenting the problem your product or service will solve. Be short and to the point, because you want to have time to provide the solution. Be direct. Know who you're talking to. Then… talk to them. Help them identify immediately with your message so they can say, "Oh, that's me."

Some examples:

  • "Are you tired of being overweight?"
  • "Behind on your bills?"
  • "How would like to save hundreds of dollars a month on your mortgage?"

Now you are prepared to grab their attention.

2. Grab your audience's attention

Once you have presented the problem, you are ready to grab their attention and hold it for the rest of the spot. This next line is critical. Don't waste it.

Just as the title of a book can summarize its contents and make you want to pick it up to read, this part of the spot must give your audience a tantalizing taste of what's to come:

  • "What if you discovered the secret a housewife in Maine found that just made pounds melt away."
  • "Get ready to find out how to cut your car payment in half... for FREE."
  • "What could you do with an extra $5,000 a year you save on your mortgage payment?"

3. Provide the solution

Now deliver the goods. You'll want to talk about how your product or service can solve the customer's problem, or provide them with the benefit they are looking for.

In this part of the ad, it is important not to confuse features with benefits. Most companies want to talk about the features of their product or service; as a consequence, they miserably fail to connect the benefit to the end user.

For example, instead of saying "Max X is the new weight loss supplement that has vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Chinese Herbs," you would say something like "Max X is the powerful new weight-loss supplement that melts fat, curbs your hunger pains, and increases your energy without that jittery feeling."

4. Provide testimonials, and be specific

Where you can and when you can, use legitimate success stories you've collected to tell the world about what you're selling. It makes the most sense to use testimonials by people who are most like your target audience.

Also, be as specific as you can about the performance of your product or service. If you can save your customer on average 64% off their printing cost—then say it. If you can deliver in 3 days when most companies take 14, then say it.

But, again, make sure you relay the benefit: "You'll save time and money in production costs and downtime because your order will be there in 72 hours."

5. Create a sense of urgency

Now, you need to give your audience a good reason to respond immediately. Whether a deadline for savings or a limited time offer, create a reason that will make someone who may be interested in what you're offer get off the fence and respond:

  • "Save up to 40% this weekend when you enter promo code XYZ."
  • "The first 25 to order will get a special bonus gift."
  • "Log on now to take advantage of the 48 hour sale."
  • "Only 4 days left until..."

6. Issue a call to action

Tell the customer exactly how you would like them to respond. If they need to "log on now," "call toll-free," or "stop in for savings," tell them, clearly. Call on the audience to take a specific step.

7. Repeat the call to action

I have seen many a spot fall flat because it tells audience members only once what action they need to take. Or the advertiser chooses to end the spot with a tag line.

Here are some secrets within these secrets:

  • For television spots, leave the call to action and the way to respond up during the entire length of the spot. Don't just bring it in at the end.
  • For Radio spots, make sure the call to action and the way to respond are the very last things the audience hears.
  • For print and Web ads, make the call to action clear and concise. Let it dominate the bottom portion of the ad.

Any questions? Need help? Ask in the comments section or via the links in my bio, and we'll try our best to help.

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image of Buddy Vaughn

Buddy Vaughn is the managing partner of DX Media Direct, a full-service advertising agency based in the Dallas/For Worth area. He has over 25 years of hands-on experience managing national and local advertising campaigns across TV, Radio, Outdoor, and Internet.

LinkedIn: Buddy Vaughn

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