Home » Book Excerpt: Most Ads Suck – Chapter 9 Samples (Part 1 of 3)

Book Excerpt: Most Ads Suck – Chapter 9 Samples (Part 1 of 3)

Chapter 9 – Samples

“Ad writing is much easier to teach than ad strategy.” – Roy H. Williams

Whew! You made it. You’ve come to the light at the end of the tunnel. This is the chapter where I show you how to use all of these principles to create compelling content and copy that moves the needle.

I have asked several small business owners to submit some basic information to me for use in this book including who they are, their values, and what they are trying to accomplish. These are real companies and real ad content they can use (in some cases already are using) for their own advertising purposes.

In every case I will be writing content that takes thirty seconds to read out loud. Why thirty seconds? It isn’t because I am a fan of radio advertising (I am, but that’s another book in and of itself), but that a thirty-second script can be used for radio, TV, web content, email, and social media. About the only place it doesn’t work is billboard advertising.

The other reason for writing content this length is that it gets you in the right frame of mind for keeping your content short and to the point. The interesting thing is that even at thirty seconds, you actually only get the first three or four seconds to grab your customer’s attention.

Roy H. Williams talks about a part of our brain called Broca. Broca is the gatekeeper to the rest of the brain. If you want to get remembered, you have to first get past Broca. Broca doesn’t like anything boring or expected. Broca doesn’t like anything that sounds like a sales pitch. Broca is that filter we talked about back in Chapter 3.

It is and always will be about your opening line. Get that right and you’ve won their attention. Get that wrong and it doesn’t matter what else you try to say. Interesting word combinations and powerful actions are the best way to get past Broca. I asked each company to send me three unrelated and interesting words you don’t hear every day. I’m going to use those words to show you how you can be interesting, creative, tell a story, make only one point, speak to the heart about your values, and make your customer the star.

As you go through the next several pages, you’ll read about the company, you’ll read the content, and you’ll read my notes about each ad. At the end I will include the ads I used in my own business that moved the needle and why they worked as well as they did.

One important point: The content I am writing for each company is written solely to show you how to use the principles in this book. I only have a small glimpse into each company based on information they sent me and the assumptions I make about their business. I am not writing an ad campaign for them. A good advertising consultant would spend far more time uncovering the true you to make sure the content matches the experience. A great advertising consultant would create a full campaign that has its own characters and story arc and style. It would be instantly recognizable as you, and interesting enough to make people want to hear/read more.

One final note: You might get to the end of this chapter all fired up and then worry that you don’t have the creativity to write content like this. Just remember that if you follow the principles above, your content will be far more interesting than anything else out there, no matter what level of creativity you bring to the table. Sometimes it is the simpler ideas that work the best.

There are many ways to be creative in your writing. I used the “three-word trick”—asking each company to give me three unrelated, but interesting words to use in each ad—for most of the ads in the samples you will read. Another technique is to have someone write a single, outrageous sentence and then try to create thirty seconds of content about your business from that opening statement. You can even simply open a book to a random page, close your eyes, and place your finger on the page. Use that sentence to start your content. I guarantee your ad won’t look or sound like any other ad out there. (Roy H. Williams had an ad-writing contest using that very technique while I was writing this book. I won a prize.) Whatever you do, don’t be boring and don’t sound like anyone else.

You don’t have to like all the ads in this chapter. You might even take issue with some of the ads. That’s okay. Remember that an ad’s ability to attract is equal to its ability to repel. The true goal of each ad is to make the customers who share your core values believe that you are talking directly to them and that you made them feel something. Are you ready?


Business: BizMags (Becky Blanton)
(434) 207-3715

BizMags is a publishing company that writes, photographs, designs and prints hardcopy and digital magazines for businesses who want to give their customers a non-ad cluttered magazine with lots of photos and features. Sometimes part catalog, other times part photomontage, it redefines magazines and gives small and large business owners a unique way to tell their story. It’s personal and simple and focused only on them.Message: Everyone has a story and a history and it can be told best in the words and photos that convey who you are, what you do, and how your customers are most likely to see and relate to you.

Values: Generous, Inspiring, Relentless, Out-of-the-Box

Words: Bacon, Fishing, Chocolate

My notes: BizMags is selling Pride, Connection, Nostalgia, all elements of Joy. Making only one point is easy because Bizmags really only offers one service – telling your story. Yes, they have different ways of telling your story, but the true goal is to first convince someone that their story needs to be told.

Fishing With Bacon
You ought to try fishing with bacon. No. Not at the lake. Fry up a pan of bacon and see who comes around. You also ought to try sharing your company’s story. Your story is the real reason people buy from you. Especially when you tell it right. BizMags is the storyteller for companies like yours. Your story will bring you the customers you need. When you’re ready to tell your story, let BizMags tell it for you. It’s like fishing with a plate of bacon, and a side of chocolate.

(This is an anchoring ad. We relate telling your story to the smell of bacon and how it attracts people. We call this anchoring because we are relating something you sell to something already known. The word “bacon” is a great word for anchoring because it truly has an emotional connection with many people.)

Story of Perseverance
You’ve given it all and a plate of bacon to make your company succeed. From the idea you hatched while fishing to the hidden obstacles that tried to sink you, you never took your eye off the prize. Your product is great, but your story of perseverance is what your customers are really buying. That’s why BizMags wants to write your story. We relate because we’re as relentless as you. We’ll do whatever it takes to tell your story the way you know it should be told. BizMags, when it’s time to tell your story.

(This ad is reaching out to the relentless entrepreneur, one of the values shared by Bizmags. There is a heavy emphasis on telling your story your way. The relentless entrepreneur did things his or her way and will continue to do things his or her way. That is what makes him or her relentless.)

Thinking Outside the Box
You put chocolate on your bacon. No one else thought of it. You did. You’ve always been one step ahead of the crowd. That’s why people hire you. Your product is in their mind, but it’s your story that moves their heart. BizMags knows this. That’s why you hired BizMags. You know your story needs to be told in the same forward-thinking fashion. BizMags gets to the heart of the matter to tell your story your way. BizMags, when it’s time to tell your story.

(This ad is pointed toward the out-of-the-box thinkers, recognizing their visionary skills. Visionaries see things others don’t. Visionaries already understand the power of storytelling and understand instinctively what Bizmags is there to do. They don’t need to be convinced to tell their story. They just need to see themselves doing it. That’s why I use the phrase, “That’s why you hired BizMags.” It cements in their mind the action I want them to take.)

The Story That Sells
It was the bacon. Woke you up out of the best sleep you had in months. You hoped for chocolate chip pancakes like you read in the magazine. You weren’t disappointed. You read the story of this fishing cottage and knew it was the retreat you needed to focus on your company. Their story spoke to your heart. That’s it! You realize it’s their story that got you here. It’s your story that will get your company there. A little research tells you BizMags told their story. You’re calling them today. BizMags, when it’s time to tell your story.

(This is a different approach in that it uses an already finished product to help convince someone why they need that product for their own use. It is a testimonial ad in a way. In fact, I would encourage BizMags to make a series of these ads using their previous clients as the “fishing cottage” and how BizMags telling of their story helped someone else utilize their services and also want to tell their own story.)


Business: FCON21 – Internet Business Solutions (John Furst)

FCON21 – Internet Business Solutions is an ad agency which increases the bottom line of its customers by implementing a dynamic, multi-channel marketing system for them. The ideal client has a permission based email list of 1,500+ customers (prospects will do in certain cases) and is spending at least $ 5,000 a month on online advertising. The client must also have a great product or service that is not a commodity (B2C or B2B doesn’t matter).

Message: Effective email marketing is not just about sending out what was news last month or mailing discount coupons and free offers every once in a while. Only a few business do it right. Great email marketing is an opportunity to stand out. I will tell you how it’s done.

Values: GENEROUS, thoughtful, loyal, kind, patient, brilliant

Words: Moon, Banana, Napkin

My Notes: This company presents a tricky challenge. Lots of companies are out there selling “social media” expertise. Internet Business Solutions needs to instead be selling Hope. They list GENEROUS as one of their main core values, but Generosity is best shown, not told. Generosity is something that earns you Word-of-Mouth when you do it without talking about it, so I purposefully avoided using it in their ads.

Email is Hard
The metrics come in. Your email campaign offers the moon, but your customers refuse to throw the lasso. The experts all told you email was so easy a monkey could do it. But you’re the one eating bananas. Your buddy gave you a name to look up. You pull the crumpled napkin out of your pocket. FCON21 Internet Business Solutions. You look them up. They are the only company telling you that while email is easy, getting results from email is hard. FCON21 promises to do the hard work for you. All you have to do is call.

(This ad plays to the notion that doing email right is not as easy as you think. Smart people who check metrics and measure ROI know there is no silver bullet and are willing to listen to the person who admits as much. They want the company that is honest and tells the downside. They don’t like to feel like a fool.)

Changing Agencies
You love your ad agency. You’ve been to the moon and back with these guys. You wouldn’t even consider changing if your current results weren’t driving you bananas. You know you need someone who knows as much about email as you do about your company. You won’t make this change lightly. You need something more than a few notes scribbled on a napkin. You’re choosing FCON21 Internet Business Solutions. They specialize in getting results from your email. Period. FCON21, when you want to do email right.

(The companies described by Mr. Furst as the ideal companies for his business are likely already paying someone else to do this service. This ad deals with the loyalty issues of changing from the team they’ve always used. People who view loyalty as a strong core value don’t change easily. They need a strong reason to justify the change.)

Asking Crazy Questions
If a monkey ate bananas on the moon, would he need a napkin? That’s about as crazy as asking, “What is the best discount to offer to get my emails opened?” You’re smart enough to know that email is far more than just discounts and coupons. You’re also smart enough to find someone to help you ask the right questions about email. That someone is FCON21 Internet Business Solutions. You want results. Internet Business Solutions answers your questions to get you those results. Yes, the monkey needs a napkin to clean out the inside of his space helmet. Yes, you need FCON21.

(Another ad aimed at smart people. This ad uses something absurd as the opening line to get people’s attention, then focuses on asking the right questions about your email campaign – and getting the answers.)


Business: The Write Word Writing and Editing Services (Tom Bentley)

Need your story told with a persuasive slant? The Write Word will supply just the right words to engage your audience, and impel them to think, to agree, and to act. From the full range of marketing collateral to writing and editing book-length documents, you can rely on The Write Word to get your message straight, slanted—and even stirring.

Message: Meaning and understanding can be conveyed—or mangled—by the skillful or stilted use of words. I want to work with people who know that good stories make for good connections.

Values: Amusing (as in “could he also be dangerous?”), Tidy (as in mild OCD), Grouchy (until after his 5pm cocktail), Left-handed (excepting with scissors)

Words: Flummoxed, Distillation, Prestidigitation

My Notes: First, let me say that I know Tom Bentley. I am familiar with his writings. I used him as the editor for this book, so I also know his services. His company presents a challenge for spoken word advertising because of the homonym in the title of his company. Plus the length of the name is cumbersome and sometimes, for brevity’s sake and for flow of words, I shortened it by leaving off the second half. As for core values, those were more difficult to portray, but his choice of lengthy words to challenge my creativity actually fits in perfect with what he offers.

Finding the Right Editor
You liked the word prestidigitation. Your friends did not. You’ll see what the editor thinks. Once you find an editor that can handle your style. Someone who can distill your prose without watering down your aromatic phrases. You’re calling The Write Word Writing and Editing Services. Tom Bentley doesn’t get flummoxed by the fifty-cent words. He can coax the flavor out of every passage. With a little sleight-of-hand, he’ll ensure even your friends are drunk on your every word. Write Word Writing and Editing, your words enlightened.

(Writers are an opinionated breed with strong feelings – often negative – toward their editors. They fear that editors will water down their works. That is why I used phrases like distilling aromatic phrases, coaxing flavor. These are comforting words to a writer looking for an editor that gets them. The use of big words is a tie-in to the core values of Amusing and Left-Handed.)

Developmental Editing
You used to be flummoxed, baffled, perplexed, flabbergasted, and all the other fifty-cent words you could think of. You knew the story was there, but you couldn’t distill it down to its purest form. You called Tom at The Write Word for some developmental editing. With a little prestidigitation, he helped you find the elusive thread holding your project together. Now you’re excited, enthusiastic, and fervent and a bunch of other words Tom knows. He helped you find your story. Write Word Writing and Editing, your words enlightened.

(This ad is directed at the writer who needs help flushing out the story. The Write Word offers several services, but in our quest to make only one point, we have to focus on only one service. It makes it okay for you to use an editor for more than just grammatical services. Again, the use of big words is to make it more Amusing. The tagline “your words enlightened” is reassuring the writer that Tom won’t change your writing, only help you make your writing better.)

Your Favorite Whiskey
A good book is like your favorite whiskey. The words are the barley. Choose poorly and you’ll flummox your readers before their first sip. Writing is the malting and mashing, the process of putting everything together. The distillation is when you call in the pro. The still master’s talent turns wort into whiskey the way a talented editor turns your written words into gold. Tom Bentley of The Write Word Writing and Editing is the editor you call to coax the flavor out of your written word. He knows a little something about your favorite whiskey, too. Write Word Writing and Editing, your words distilled properly.

(Comparison ads like this anchor the known to the unknown. In this case we use the steps for making whiskey to compare to the steps for writing a good book, placing the editor in the position of the pro you call for the final step in the process. When you can anchor your services to something already known, you make it far easier for people to understand why they need your services. This ad works with anyone who fancies himself as a Hemingway writer.)

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS I hope you are enjoying yourself so far. More samples to come …

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