Did the headline suck you in – force you to keep reading? If you have a pulse, it’s the reason you’re reading this sentence now.
The headline – the ‘ad for the ad’ – was written by one of the greatest direct response copywriters of the past 50 years, Eugene Schwartz. His ads, for everything from beauty and diet products to investment services and gardening, have resulted in sales of billions of dollars.
Schwartz’s ads are so powerful, so magnetic, they’ve been copied in some form for decades. They’re classic direct response.
And yet…and yet, despite overwhelming evidence that direct response-style display ads, hard copy direct mail and yes, online marketing is the only effective, measurable, accountable form of marketing that any small business owner should invest in, I still hear
“but it’s so unprofessional, my clients are far too sophisticated/educated/up-market for that kind of thing…”
Well, I’m more than happy for the ignorant and the arrogant to continue wasting their hard-earned money on pretty, ‘imagey’ kind of creative advertising while the rest of us get one with what works, instead of re-inventing the wheel.
As the master of direct response, David Ogilvy once declared, ‘creative is what sells‘. He might well have continued, ‘who cares about winning creative advertising awards, if the ads don’t get customers to pick up the phone and buy?’
For the education and interest of those readers wise enough to at least acknowledge they don’t know much about marketing and would like to inform themselves – being armed with knowledge gives you a pretty good buffer against making dumb, expensive mistakes – here’s a small sample of some of the greatest direct response advertising ever printed.
(And for Inner Circle members, the complete Eugene Schwartz ‘swipe file’ of classic, powerful headlines, available for download now from here in the Member’s Only ‘sealed section’ of the website.)
For those salon owners who are NOT part of the Inner Circle program, well I guess you’ll look at these examples, wrinkle your nose in distaste and sniffily declare them far too unworthy of your further study.
For those salon & spa owners smart enough to have joined the Inner Circle program including the Essential Salon Owner’s Marketing Toolkit®, the following examples will hopefully encourage and inspire you to go back to your Toolkit and begin to better understand the thinking behind the hundreds of advertising templates contained within it.
You can right click on these thumbnail images and ‘save as…’ to download the ads in full screen, so you can study them in detail. My advice: analyze these from the point of view of ‘HOW can I use this information to develop better marketing for my salon?’ rather than “this isn’t for a beauty or hair business so it doesn’t apply to me!’
What does a gorgeous, “over-the-hill” international model do when sales of her new book are flat as a pancake and she’s got no idea how to turn it around?
Simple. If she’s Oleda Baker, she calls Eugene Schwartz.
This is the 1973 ad for “The Models Way to Beauty, Slenderness and Glowing Health” which eventually sold over 60,000 copies with the help of Gene Schwartz’s pen.
The caption beneath her photo is very effective. “This is an unretouched photo of 39 year old Oleda Baker, author of this eye opening new guide.”
Shirley Polykoff wrote this ad for Clairol in the 50s, “Does she …or doesn’t she? Hair color so natural only her hair dresser knows for sure.”
It was so successful in selling product that today Clairol is able to spend over $30 million a year in the USA alone on advertising – yet it won not a single ‘creative’ award.
The ‘Does she or doesn’t she?” headline was at first turned down by Life magazine as being ‘too suggestive’. The Life editors would turn pale at what advertisers get away with these days.
Advertising sales reps ought to be hung, drawn and quartered for insisting on spreading this toxic myth about marketing.
Most of ’em deride ‘direct response’ marketing as ‘okay for weight loss and hair replacement advertising, but you wouldn’t use it for professional services and products….’
Mmmm, really? Click on the picture here, the front cover of one of the world’s most respected business publications, and you’ll find a 15-page sales letter that’s pure direct response, sent out by the publishers to drive subscriptions.
Strange to say, it worked.
In 1919, Lillian Eichler was an 18-year-old working for a New York advertising agency when she was asked to figure out an ad that would sell a bunch of old copies of Ealnor Holt’s pre-1900 The Encyclopedia of Etiquette.
But most of the 1,000 copies sold came back within the 5-day guarantee period, the readers turned off by the antiquated text. But the publishers (Doubleday) were smart enough to realize that if Lillian’s ad could at least move the books, maybe she could re-write the original and turn it into something more appealing to the modern’ reader.
It did. Lillian’s version, the Book of Etiquette, sold 2 million copies at $2 each over the following two years, nearly $30 million in today’s money. Amazing to think that such powerful marketing copy could come from the pen of an 18-year-old.
Now, take a good look at all the examples above. If you note nothing else, note this: ALL of them feature columns of tightly-written copy, not mere pretty pictures and a phone number.
Go apply that thinking to YOUR advertising, and what your sales soar.