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Copyright 1995 by Premier Publishers, Inc, USA.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means without the express prior and written permission of the publisher.

If you plan to sell by mail order -- no matter what your product or service -- it will be important that you have available a power-packed, order-pulling advertising circular. You will need one to include in your direct mail campaigns and to publish in various publications. With a little know-how and practice, you can design and produce it all by yourself.

In the past, many mail order dealers relied upon one or more of the national mail order advertising designers to create and produce a suitable ad. Unfortunately, so many dealers relied on the small number of ad designers that many of the ads that appeared in mail order magazines were very similar in layout. The same tired ad designs, the same clip art, the same basic text... Boring, boring, boring! It's no wonder that many dealers got less than the expected results from their ads... they all looked the same!

It doesn't have to be that way, however. You can design and produce your own advertising circulars. With only a small amount of artistic know-how you can produce a full page advertising circular that will say what you want, to whom you want, and sell your product as well as any ad created by a professional.

No matter what you are selling -- a book, a product, or a service -- the basic concepts of direct marketing are all the same. Once you learn a few basic marketing rules, you can develop the technical skills necessary to produce your own circulars. Study these suggestions carefully. Look at the ads in some of the popular national magazines and see if these tips haven't been used by the pros to design those ads. You'll find that the best ads all incorporate these rules of thumb.

Any advertising circular is designed around the headline. As super salesman Vic Schwab once said, "The headline must select an interested audience and promise the prospect a worthwhile reward for reading further." According to professional designers, the headline should:

If the headline cannot capture the reader's attention, you have missed your opportunity to offer your sales pitch. If it fails to qualify your prospects, you may generate a number of unresponsive sales leads. And, if the headline cannot lure the reader into reading the rest of the ad, you will fail in making the sale. Your headline must begin selling the product before the reader even realizes what you are offering.

A good headline will speak to each individual reader -- not to the faceless thousands. The headline must offer the reader specific benefits. As he turns through the pages and sees ads, the reader subconsciously is asking himself the question, "What is in this for me -- right now?" You must convince him or her that your product can provide something unavailable elsewhere.

The headline should pointedly address the reader's need. Whether your offer will make him feel better, be richer, get smarter, look younger, get ahead -- whatever the benefit, the reader must grasp that with the first glimpse.

To create your own successful ad, you must be able to transform the features of the product into reader benefits. By proclaiming benefits rather than product characteristics, you will entice the reader to consider your offer. Before you begin to write your ad, sit down and make a list of all the features of the product or service. Then, convert each feature into one or more reader-benefits. Your headline can then be built around the biggest feature that you converted into a benefit.

After you have developed the list of reader benefits, begin to develop your headline. It should be as striking as possible. Your headline can stand alone to grab the reader's attention, or it can be combined with a supporting illustration. Sometimes an illustration can stand alone as a visual headline. Generally speaking, however, your headline will be a brief phrase, sentence, or question that displays the product benefit or otherwise impels the reader to continue into the body of the ad.

Headlines appear in a larger type size than the body of your ad. They are generally set in a bold, sans serif typeface such as Franklin Gothic or Helvetica. The stark headline stands out against the text that is usually set in an easier to read type, such as Times Roman or Palatino. Studies have demonstrated that a headline enclosed in quotation marks will attract 28% more readers than one that is not. Quotation marks lend the headline an air of authority and importance, compelling the reader to take notice. Remember, if your prospect doesn't notice the ad, you'll never make the sale.

Your headline benefit should be tailored to fit the target audience of the publication in which it is to appear. An ad for a food processor in health magazines would want to stress the health-related benefits of processing fresh fruits and vegetables. However, an ad for the same product in a magazine for working mothers may instead stress time savings benefits.

One effective headline style is to ask the reader a question. The customer is challenged to consider the question and develop an answer. But, the reader must not be able to easily answer the question without reading the entire ad. You want to draw him into the body of the ad, not simply answer the question. Your question must be designed with a degree of sharpness. It must provoke a deep-down sense of introspection by the reader. It should also be personal, implying a subtle benefit to the reader that he can only fully understand by reader further.

It is usually a good idea to use some type of art with your circular. It helps break-up the monotony of the page, as well as reiterate the reader benefits. Electronic clip art is inexpensive and widely available to computer users. However, inexpensive collections of royalty-free stock photographs are now available on computer diskettes and CDs, providing you a chance to insert a professionally composed photograph into your ad.

Carefully weigh the benefits of using an illustration versus the loss of ad copy space where the art is inserted. Sometimes it may be more important to include more text and less art, depending on your product and offer. Professional advertising designers state that using photos in ads can increase or decrease response levels, depending on the publication. If you chose to use a photo, include a caption. Insertion of this one or two sentence sales message is often overlooked by ad designers, but may be one of the best opportunities you'll have to entice the prospect to read your full ad.

If you use an accompanying picture or piece of art with your headline, make sure it relates to the product. A photo of a swimsuit-clad model initially will draw the reader's attention to your ad, but unless the headline relates closely to the photo, you will have wasted your chance to get the prospect to read more. Don't let your headline deliver one message and your illustration another.

The reading habits of your prospects have been formed through years of reading magazines and newspapers. Your circular should be created in approximately the same format. Set your circular with at least a one-half inch margin on all four sides. Many ads are set in an "advertorial" format; made to appear like an editorial write-up. You will most often make your ad three-columns, just like a magazine article. However, there are times when you will want to use a two-column layout. Shadow boxes and other bordered inserts can also be added to break-up the text. It does not matter whether you justify the text within the column or make a jagged right edge. Studies have shown that there will be little, if any, difference in the results.

The main copy of your advertisement should systematically lead the reader through the benefits of the product. It should stimulate him to recognize his personal need, how the product can fill that need, and exactly how or where he can get the product. Most writers use what is called the AIDA formula.

The AIDA acronym stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. You grab the reader's Attention using your headline and introductory copy. You convince him to consider your offer by reading further. You create an Interest on the reader's part by outlining the fantastic benefits of the product. You create a Desire within him by offering the opportunity to fulfill his needs. And you prompt him to Action -- filling out the order coupon or calling in his order.

If you have properly led the prospect through the first three steps, you must ask him to take the final step and purchase. Too often advertisers do a good job of leading the reader through the benefits of the product, but never ask for the order. You must make it clear and explicit how the reader can order. Include all the details. Make it as easy as possible for him to take the final step and buy. It is also important at what point in the text you ask for the order. You must wait until the prospect is ready to order. Prod him too soon and you'll lose the sale. Generally, it is best to wait until the end of the text to reveal the price and ordering instructions.

Always, without fail, include a money-back guarantee with your product offer. Your guarantee will increase your credibility in the eyes of the customer and will allay any fears he may have of "wasting" his money. While the length of your guarantee may vary -- ten, thirty, sixty, ninety days, a full year, a lifetime -- you should make sure you include it. The return rate will likely be small, but the increase in orders over not using one will be significant.

If you are asking the customer to return their order through the mail, it is preferable to include an order coupon within the body of your advertisement. Although using a coupon takes away much needed copy space, the coupon reinforces the customer's desire by making him physically respond. He fills out the coupon, indicates the form of payment, and mails it off. Customers will still order if you do not use a coupon, but the response (especially for mail order only offers) will frequently not be as great.

A coupon should have a dotted line to set it off from the text. However, don't let the line be too thick. This can draw the reader's attention away from the copy and toward the coupon too early in the sales pitch. Let the line be thick enough to delineate between text and coupon, but not overly noticeable.

Make sure your mailing address can be easily found within the dotted lines of the coupon and on another spot in the ad. This is important since many buyers will fill out the coupon, insert it into a mailing envelope, seal it, and then will not have the mailing address to copy onto the envelope. You want to make it as easy as possible for the prospect to order.

If you offer toll-free telephone ordering, make sure you place your number and business hours clearly on the ad. Do you accept credit card sales? Place the logos of the credit cards you accept on your circular. The logos are easily recognizable and visually inform the reader how easy it will be to order. Also, leave a space on your order coupon for credit card number, expiration date, and customer's telephone number. Thus, if you have any trouble processing the charge, you can contact the customer directly.

The easiest and most economical method of designing, laying out, and modifying your advertising circular is on a computer. Software programs available in both IBM■ and Apple Macintosh■ formats make page layout a snap. If you have your own computer, you can purchase a desktop publishing program such as Pagemaker■ or QuarkXPress■. If you don't have a computer, consider renting one for a short time or using one at a full-service quick print shop. You will save a lot of time and frustration doing the design on a computer screen, laying it out just so, and then printing it off on a high-quality laser printer.

If you cannot gain access to a computer, you can still design your layout and write the text copy on your own. When you have it in a final form, hire a freelance or professional typesetter to do the layout work on a computer and print out the final product. You should not simply type up some text, paste up a little clip art, and have copies of it made. You want to present a professional appearance and create the strongest sense of consumer confidence in your company and product as possible.

You can create your own order-pulling advertising circulars. With a little study, some writing and rewriting, and a good deal of persistence, you can develop your own sales circulars that can transform doubting prospects into satisfied customers. You can do it yourself!

This is just one of the over 200 business reports contained in the CD-ROM, "Reproduction Rights Series", a phenomenally-packed CD containing over 1,700 pages of text and which you can purchase, as the name implies, with complete reproduction rights. You can sell individual reports or the entire set on hard copy (print) or on floppy disks or even on CD-ROM! You can even sell the reproduction rights!
A real money-maker.

Click here for a detailed description and to order.