30 Copywriting Secrets from the Best Ad Campaign of All Time | Alan Sharpe | Skillshare

30 Copywriting Secrets from the Best Ad Campaign of All Time

Alan Sharpe, Copywriting instructor

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32 Lessons (2h 52m)
    • 1. Course Promo

      2:02
    • 2. Intro: Great copy requires great insights.

      8:29
    • 3. Secret 1: Write a weak headline if your visual is strong

      4:53
    • 4. Secret 2: Sync your headline and your visual

      5:33
    • 5. Secret 3: Write headlines that compel buyers to read your copy

      10:07
    • 6. Secret 4: Make your headline a zinger if your visual is lame

      6:08
    • 7. Secret 5: If in doubt, ask a question

      5:27
    • 8. Secret 6: Start telling a story

      4:27
    • 9. Secret 7: Tie your headline to current events

      5:19
    • 10. Secret 8: Aim for the “hunh?” factor

      4:52
    • 11. Secret 9: Make them smile

      3:57
    • 12. Secret 10: Use headlines for features, images for benefits

      5:01
    • 13. Secret 11: Comparing yourself? Better be clever.

      4:48
    • 14. Secret 12: Find headlines in your body copy

      6:03
    • 15. Secret 13: Deliver on the premise of your headline

      5:52
    • 16. Secret 14: If in doubt, ask a question

      4:03
    • 17. Secret 15: Start with irony

      4:24
    • 18. Secret 16: Stick to one idea per ad

      6:12
    • 19. Secret 17: Follow a simple script

      7:48
    • 20. Secret 18: Give multiple benefits for each feature

      4:50
    • 21. Secret 19: Back all claims with proof

      3:14
    • 22. Secret 20: Borrow credibility

      4:41
    • 23. Secret 21: Keep your reader reading

      5:14
    • 24. Secret 22: Build trust with specifics

      7:21
    • 25. Secret 23: Write quirky testimonials

      8:01
    • 26. Secret 24: Use parallel structure

      4:24
    • 27. Secret 25: Spin your strongest feature into a theme

      3:14
    • 28. Secret 26: Use original clichés

      4:35
    • 29. Secret 27: Write in pictures

      4:17
    • 30. Secret 28: Come full circle at the end

      6:03
    • 31. Secret 29: Give your buyer something to think about

      5:30
    • 32. Secret 30: Write like a pro (a few words on style)

      5:02
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About This Class

In this course, you’ll learn how to write copy that grabs attention and motivates prospects to buy. 

I designed this course for anyone who wants a shortcut to learning how to write great copy. By the end of this course, you’ll be able to write copy that gets noticed, gets read and gets results.

You and I will examine the most successful advertising campaign in history. I’m talking about the newspaper ads for Volkswagen that ran during the 1960s and 1970s. This campaign took a boring, ugly, unknown product and made it one of the most talked-about, popular products in history. I’m going to show you dozens of ads from this campaign. Each one is a case study in how to write clever, powerful, funny, amazing copy.

You'll see how a successful ad is built. We'll cover headlines, visuals, opening lines, body copy, format of a sales pitch, testimonials, features and benefits, reader engagement, humour, irony, keys to being original, endings, and plenty more.

I designed this course for two people: copywriters who want to improve their craft, and aspiring copywriters who want to learn what actually works in copywriting.

This course contains no theory—just dozens of examples of copy that works, and a detailed explanation of why it works. To get a good idea of what we’ll cover, preview some of the lessons below. Then take this course. Forty years from now, people might be talking about your copy. Hey, you never know.

Transcripts

1. Course Promo: in this course, you'll learn how to write copy that grabs attention and motivates prospects to buy. Hi, I'm Alan Sharp. I'm your instructor. I landed my first copy writing job in 1989 at an ad agency. Since then, I've been writing copy for Apple, IBM, Hilton hotels and hundreds of other businesses. Through my workshops, books and newsletters. I've taught thousands of copywriters around the world how to write copy. I designed this course for anyone who wants a shortcut toe learning how to write Great copy . By the end of this course, you'll be able to write copy that gets noticed. That gets read, and that gets results. You and I will examine the most successful advertising campaign in history. I'm talking about the newspaper ads for Volkswagen that ran during the 19 sixties. This campaign took a boring, ugly, unknown product and made it one of the most talked about popular products in history. I'm going to show you dozens of ads from this campaign. Each one is a case study in how to write clever, powerful amazing copy. I designed this course for two kinds of people. Copywriters who want to improve their craft and aspiring copywriters who want to learn what actually works in copyrighting. This course contains no theory, just dozens of examples of copy that works and a detailed explanation of why it works to get a good idea of what will cover when he preview some of the lessons below. Then take this course. 40 years from now, people might be talking about your copy. Hey, you never know. 2. Intro: Great copy requires great insights.: The first tip I have for you about writing great copy has nothing to do with actually writing great copy. It has to do with understanding before you can write great copy. You need toe have what's called a big idea, and before you can have a big idea, you need to have a great insight. And before you can have a great insight, you need to do lots of research. All effective copyrighting starts with understanding. You're never writing in a vacuum. Your copy never appears in a vacuum. You have competitors, you have competing products. You have competing advertisers offline and online. You face shifting consumer tastes. You can only write effective copy if you understand what you are selling, who you are selling it to and why the buyer should buy your product instead of a competing product. Over the next few weeks, you and I are going to examine dozens of print ads from the most successful advertising campaign in history. I'm talking about the ads that Volkswagen ran during the 19 sixties and the 19 seventies for the Volkswagen Beetle station wagon and Karmann Ghia. We're going to examine some of the best copy ever written. We're going to examine headlines, opening lines, body copy, calls to action. We're going to talk about features, benefits and plenty more. But before we do that, we have to start at the beginning. The Volkswagen ad campaign was successful because the advertising agency on the account started at the beginning. If you want to understand why these ads were so successful, if you want to understand why the copy was so effective, you need to understand something of the environment in which these ads were created. Let's start with the market. The automobile market in the United States in the late 19 fifties was dominated by the Big Three. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, Honda, Toyota and the other foreign car manufacturers did not exist. The cars that the Big Three built were big, heavy eight cylinder, four door sedans. There seemed to be a race on to build the car with the largest fins and the most chrome. The fad was toe have everything powered power steering, power locks, power windows powered, radio intense. This was all new in the late 19 fifties. A few things to note about these cars. They were gas guzzlers. They got 15 miles to the gallon. On average, they were notoriously hard on tires. They were long, which made them hard to park, and they burned a lot of engine oil. The Big Three car manufacturers were the competition that Volkswagen went up against with their ad campaign. So let's look at the competition's adds. A typical ad for a car in the late 19 fifties was full page and full color. It showed radiant people in settings of pronounced elegance. The ads featured large blocks of copy. The overall impression that the advertisers strive for was that buying their latest model too few a step higher in the social ladder. If you bought their latest model, you were a somebody, and you moved in a better social circle than others. Into this competitive landscape arrived the Volkswagen car. Unlike its competitors, it had two doors not for its engine had four cylinders, not eight. Its engine was not in the front, but was instead in the back mounted over the rear tires. There was no driveshaft. There was no chrome. There were no fins. There wasn't even a radiator. The car was cooled by air, not water. When the Volkswagen car appeared on the streets in the United States in the late 19 fifties . People thought it looked funny, and it did. They made fun of it, and they nicknamed it The Bug. Let's look at the advertising agency that created this memorable campaign. In 1949 a copywriter by the name of Bill Burn Back formed an ad agency in Manhattan, New York He partnered with Ned Doyle and Maxwell Dane. The company was called Doyle Dane Bernbach, and it still exists today. In those days it was called DDB, and they began producing advertising that was original, clever, funny and amazingly effective in the marketplace. And because of the strength of Doyle Dane Bernbach is creative. Volkswagen gave their account to the agency in 1959. The art director on the account was Helmet Crone. He is the man responsible for the simple, minimalist, distinctive look of all the Volkswagen ads. And the first copywriter on the account was Julian Co Nick. He is the copywriter You and I are going to be learning from during this course. Let's look at the campaign. The ads for the Volkswagen campaign didn't look anything like the car ads of the day. For one thing, they were invariably in black and white. The photos in the ads went largely unretouched. They weren't airbrushed. They weren't modified. There were no pictures of women in furs. There were no illustrations of people frolicking at the Golf and Country Club. The ads were simple and often featured one photo of the car unadorned. The ads never had a slogan they had never had exclamation marks. The logo was always subdued. The ads appeared in consumer magazines and newspapers. Each Volkswagen ad was designed to be so complete that it could stand alone as a viable advertisement on its own, even without addressing all aspects of the automobile and for your interest and mine. The copy was also different from the copy of the day. It was irreverent. It was clever. It was funny. The sentences were short. The ads didn't boast. There were no superlatives. Let's look at the success of this campaign. The Volkswagen ad campaign of the 19 fifties sixties and seventies was voted the number one campaign of all time by Advertising Age magazine. The success of the campaign was also demonstrated in the marketplace. Research conducted by the Starch Company showed that the Volkswagen ads consistently had higher reader scores than the editorial content. In other words, when a woman picked up a copy of Woman's Day, or when a man picked up a copy of plate and they were more likely to read the Volkswagen ad in its entirety and remember it, then they were to read the articles and remember them. So what was it about these ads that grab people's attention and compelled them to read? That's what you'll discover during this course, starting with the next lesson. 3. Secret 1: Write a weak headline if your visual is strong: If you re just about any book about copyrighting, you'll hear that your headline is the most important part of your copy. You'll hear something like this. Eight out of 10 people who look at an advertisement read the headline first, so make sure your headline names you're promoting and describes a benefit of using the product. In other words, use your headline to sell. That is the common wisdom. Well, Volkswagen turned that wisdom on its head in the award winning ads that Volkswagen ran back in the 19 sixties and 19 seventies. Plenty of the ads had headlines that were downright lame, and I don't mean they were laying by today standards. I mean, they were lame. By any standard, some of the headlines had only two words. For crying out loud. One of the most famous ads had a headline that had one word in it. Some headlines stated the obvious. Others were simply boring. And yet the headlines did an amazing job. Consider this ad. It has a strong visual. Nobody in those days could imagine a police officer driving around town in a Volkswagen as his cruiser. It's the visual that grabs your attention first not the headline. The headline is boring. Don't laugh, all right, so I won't laugh. But the boring headline works perfectly with the strong visual. The result. The ad gets your attention. The ad is a winner. Consider this other ad. How about this headline? This is an ad for the Volkswagen station wagon. If you wrote a lame headline like that for your client, you'd get fired. This headline says nothing about the product. It doesn't announce any news. It doesn't promise any benefit. As far as headlines go, it's a dud. Except that this dud of a headline is married to a strong visual together that week headline and that strong visual get you to stop and look. Here's another example. Another zinger. This headline qualifies for the Oscar nomination for Most boring headline of all time. Here it is. Volkswagen's unique construction keeps dampness out. Give me a break. Volkswagen's unique construction keeps dampness out. That's the kind of thing an engineer would say. That headline on its own would put most potential customers to sleep, and it would put most car dealers out of business. But paired with a strong visual. It works. Here's our final example. Look at that three word headline. Another dud. According to the folks who teach copyrighting, aren't headlines supposed to contain the name of the product or announce a new feature? Well, this headline does none of those things. But how about that visual that grabs your attention? What is that? That strong visual, along with that lame headline grabs your attention. And that's the point. Remember, the hardest job that you and I have in copyrighting is stopping people long enough to read our copy. You and I live in the Age of Distraction. At no other time in human history has it been harder to grab someone's attention and keep it? The team at Doyle Dane Bernbach knew that the best way to grab someone's attention was with a strong visual. People are visual, and they respond to images, shapes and colors faster than they respond to words. The Volkswagen ad campaign ran continuously for two years. Of the hundreds of ads that ran, only one did not have a visual. So when you sit down to write your headline, think visually. If you can find an intriguing or funny or puzzling visual to go with your headline you can relax That way your headline doesn't have to try so hard to be strategic and on brand. Your headline doesn't have to try so hard to sell, and you can ignore that excellent conventional wisdom you've heard for years about how you should write your headlines. 4. Secret 2: Sync your headline and your visual: Contrary to popular opinion, a picture is rarely worth 1000 words, and 1000 words usually need a picture or two. A picture usually needs a headline, and a headline usually needs a picture. Your goal is a copywriter is to write headlines that only work when they are placed next to the picture. Your best headlines only work when they work with the visual. If your ad has a visual, your headline should not be ableto work When the visual is removed as you write, your headlines always aim for synergy. Synergy is a fancy word to describe the interaction of two things that produce a combined effect that is greater than the sum of the two parts. Imagine watching the movie Star Wars with the sound turned off. It wouldn't be the same right for Star Wars. The Workers a movie you need tohave synergy between the action on the screen and the amazing musical score by John Williams. Theme action scenes that watch get your adrenaline going on. The musical score that you hear gives you goose bumps combine. They produce an effect that is greater than the sum of the two parts. They create synergy your headline and you're visual must create that same effect. The rule for creating synergy is that neither your headline nor your visual should be able to work on their own. Let me show you what I mean. Look at this ad from the Volkswagen campaign of the 19 seventies. It has a visual, but no headline. It doesn't make sense. Now look at the same ad with the headline, but no visual still doesn't make any sense. But combined the obscure visual with the obscure headline and you have synergy. You have a combination of two elements that grabs your attention, and that makes sense. Here's another example that visual on its own does not communicate much. The same ad with Just the headline is just as obscure but combined the ordinary visual with the obscure headline and you have synergy. You have a visual and a headline working together and creating an effect that neither could achieve on their own. Here's another ad. This ad is a perfect example of synergy between headlines and visuals. As you can see, neither the visuals nor the headlines work on their own. If you pay attention to what you're doing when you read this ad, you'll notice that your eye looks at the image first, then drops down to read the headline and then goes back up to read the visual again. Your eyes look individual, then the headline, then back to the visual. What your eyes just did shows you how synergy works. You look at the visual it needs, explaining. You look at the headline and explains it sort of. And it refers you back to the visual. So you look back at the visual this we change this we don't your eye goes back and forth from the visual to the headline, huh? Then you get it. You get the synergy. The secret to creating synergy between a headline and a visual is to make sure your headline is cryptic and your visual is just this cryptic. Contrary to popular opinion, you rarely want your headline to say everything that can be said about your product. You don't want your headline to be selling. Remember, you only have two goals with your headline. One is to grab the reader's attention and to your headline must compel the person to read your ad to read your body copy. Now you can certainly achieve both goals with just a headline on its own. But if your ad or your brochure or your website whatever it is you're writing, if it features an image, and if that image takes up a sizable portion of the real estate of where you're placing your copy than your headline and you're visual must work together to create synergy. If you have any doubts about the power of synergy in copyrighting, just try watching your favorite movie tonight with the sound turned off. Or try listening to your favorite movie. With the screen turned off, you'll be a believer in no time. 5. Secret 3: Write headlines that compel buyers to read your copy: David Ogilvy once said that on average, five times as many people read the headline has read the body copy. He also said, When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar. I disagree. Your headline is only effective if it compels your prospects to read your body copy, right? If you're prospect, read your headline and then turns the page or clicks away from that website. You haven't just spent 80 cents of your dollar. You've spent the whole dollar, and you have nothing to show for it. Headlines serve one essential goal, and that is to compel potential customers to read your copy. That's it. No more. Interrupting people isn't enough. Grabbing their attention isn't enough. Your headline must motivate them, tease them, intrigued them and compel them to read what you have to say in your body. Copy. So how do you do that? If you study the most successful ad campaign in history, you'll discover three ways to get readers to read your body copy. The ad agency for Volkswagen back in the 19 sixties and seventies, was Doyle Dane Bernbach and their creative team of copywriters and art directors. discovered that one of the easiest ways to get potential buyers to read an ad is to make the prospects ask themselves a question. One of those questions is. Why take this famous ad? For example? The headline says. The car and the picture is a lemon. Why? Why is that car? Lemon, you have to read the ad to find out. Consider this ad. The headline tells you to think small. The image in the top right hand corner is a small image. Why should I think small? I have to read the body copy to find out. Look at this sad Volkswagen paint their cars multiple times. Why did they do that? I have to look for the answer in the Body Cup. Look at this ad. Why is it impossible for a Volkswagen to boil over? Why won't the radiator ever do that? I have to find out. Why is a mechanic Volkswagen's number one salesman? I think you get the idea by raising a question in your buyers Mind you force them to read on in your copy until they find the answer. The second kind of question. You can encourage your prospects to ask themselves when they read your headline is how Consider this ad. Volkswagen says Their car will help me live below my means. How exactly do they do that? In another ad, they say a Volkswagen is cheaper at twice the price. How is it cheaper? I got to read the copy to find out this ad makes it appear that I could buy a washer, a dryer and a whole bunch of other stuff, plus a new Volkswagen, All for the price of offense. Your car. How is that possible? I have to read the body copy to find out. This ad says every new Volkswagen comes slightly used. Well, how can a new car be slightly used? Do they mean that is road tested first, I have to read the ad to settle my curiosity. You get the idea? The third and final question that Volkswagen like to provoke in the minds of buyers was what this headline says, the oldest reason in the world for buying a new one. What is that reason this ad says in designing the Volkswagen station wagon, we started with a simple plan. Oh yeah. What was that simple plan in this ad? We see a girl leaning out of the window of a Volkswagen, and she's laughing at another brand of car. I don't know if you know this or not. I imagine you do. Volkswagen's were known for their funny looks. People used to laugh at them. So what is funny about the other car in this picture? I'll put you out of your misery. You don't have to read the body copy. The other car is funny because it has a radiator that can boil over. Volkswagen's didn't have radiators. They were air cooled. This final ad says You're missing a lot when you own a Volkswagen. If you're like me, you're looking at that ad and you're looking at the parts on the ground next to that car, and you're wondering what are they? You have to read the body copy to find out. Sorry, you'll notice that the secret to this tactic of writing headlines is that it arouses curiosity. Curiosity is one of the strongest drives that anyone can have. People will go toe all sorts of lengths to satisfy their curiosity, so consider using this tactic in your next campaign, aroused curiosity in your potential customers, write a headline that provokes them to ask. Why? How? What? Force them to read your body copy to find out. Hey, they worked for Volkswagen, didn't it? 6. Secret 4: Make your headline a zinger if your visual is lame: your first job as a copywriter is to interrupt people. No one is going to read your copy until you can first grab their attention and get them to pay attention to you in print, advertising and online. You only have two ways to grab people's attention. A great headline or a great visual of the two visuals are better at grabbing people's attention than headlines are. So if you have a funny or clever or quirky or intriguing image at your disposal, use that to grab your prospects attention. But what can you do if you don't have a strong visual? What if your product is boring toe? Look at and you don't want to include it in your ad or your brochure. That's the challenge that Volkswagen faced back in the 19 sixties and 19 seventies. They had to create advertising for the Volkswagen Beetle and the Volkswagen station wagon. Both vehicles were boring toe Look at the ad agency on the Volkswagen account knew that if your visual is lame, your headline has to be amazing. And so they're copywriters, wrote some of the most memorable headlines in advertising. Here's an example of what I mean. I think you'll agree with me that the visual in this ad isn't going to win any awards for creativity. But the headline Now that's creative. You see, the one thing that was different about the Volkswagen was that the body didn't change from year to year. If you bought a Volkswagen in 1967 the body looked just like the body of the Volkswagen in 1957 10 years ago. All that Volkswagen changed during those 10 years was the stuff inside the vehicle. They changed the transmission. They changed the engine. They changed the cooling, but they didn't change the body. This clever headline plays upon that theme in a creative way. Ah, boring visual, paired with a clever headline, gets your attention. Here's another great example. Nothing remarkable about that image, right? It's just a profile shot of a boring looking car. But the headline is a zinger. There was a craze in America for cars that featured a roof line that slope continuously down at the back. These cars were called fast backs, and they were fast. Volkswagen played upon this theme, this trend in the market place with a clever headline that made fun of their car, presenting America's slowest Fast back. Another craze in the late 19 fifties and early 19 sixties was convertibles. Volkswagen didn't make a convertible, but they made a car with a sunroof, so they created an ad with a boring photo of the product, paired with a clever headline. The result is an ad that gets your attention, makes you smile and almost forces you to read the body copy. Here's another one. It's an ad for the Volkswagen station wagon. It's an interior shot, as you can see. Nothing remarkable, but the strong headline works perfectly with the weak visual. The inside of the Volkswagen station wagon was roomy, twice as roomy as a typical station wagon in those days. So the headline makes total sense and makes you smile because there's nothing like the great indoors. Get it? There's only one thing wrong with that headline. I didn't write it. Here's our final example. The visual, you'll agree, is nothing to get excited about. Just a picture of the car and a picture of the engine on the ground beside it. But it's the headline that makes this add a winner. The headlines I should say we made the car go faster and the engine go slower. You can appreciate why the creative team on the Volkswagen account won so many awards for their ads. They were able to take any photo of their product, no matter how boring and unflattering, and combine it with a clever headline that made potential buyer stop whatever they were doing and read the ad. If your product is also boring toe, look at be encouraged. The headlines you and I have just been looking at were written in the 19 sixties, and yet you and I are still talking about them even today. Ah, clever headline is just the beginning. Of course, if you're a really good copywriter, you also know how to write zingers at the end of your copy. You know how to end with a bang. Strong ending is really, really important. Stay tuned 7. Secret 5: If in doubt, ask a question: Hey, one of the one of the easiest ways to grab the attention of potential customers. Want to learn one of the easiest ways to write a headline? Ask a question. Putting a simple question mark at the end of your headline helps you take a straightforward feature or claim and make it a little more interesting and a lot more compelling. One ad agency that was a master of the question mark was Doyle Dane Bernbach there, the ad agency that created the award winning and most successful ad campaign in history. The campaign was for Volkswagen. Here's one of their ads. This double page ad features a headline that is a question. Why are so many people looking into the Volkswagen? The headline is a play on words, obviously, because the visual is a see through image of the Volkswagen that literally lets you look into the Volkswagen. When this ad was written, many people were indeed looking into buying a Volkswagen. But no self respecting copywriter would have written a headline that simply said, many people are looking into the Volkswagen or Ring. But a clever copywriter, especially a copywriter who had a deadline to meet, could take that basic fact and give it a tweak by putting a question mark at the end. Here's another example. As you probably know, the engine and the Volkswagen wasn't in the front. It was in the rear, mounted over the rear tires. This was a unique feature of the car that made the car lighter but gave it greater traction in snow and sand. But you can't just write a headline that says the engine is in the back that simply states a feature of the car. Plus, it would prompt a potential buyer toe ask. Okay, so the engines in the back So what? And you never want your prospective buyer saying so what? But turning the feature into a question piques your curiosity. You may think that's a good question. Why is the ancient in the back? You have to read the body copy to find out, and this brings up a vital point. Turning your headline into a question is an easy and effective way to persuade your perspective. Customer to read your body copy to read the rest of your ad to read the rest of your website to read the rest of your brochure to read the rest of your pitch. No one wants to leave a question buzzing around in their mind. Once their curiosity has been piqued, they will read the body copy to satisfy their curiosity. Here's another example of an ad that focuses on a feature of the Volkswagen. The rear wheels are individually suspended to follow the shape of the road, but you can't just say that in your headline. You can't just right. The rear wheels are individually suspended. But turning that feature into a question solves the challenge. By the way, headlines that are questions are not just for making product features more interesting. When Volkswagen wanted to make a point about its competitors or about its potential buyers , it often did so in the form of a question. That's because posing an unpleasant truth as a question instead of as a fact softens the truth. As you can see from this headline, wives were not keen on the Volkswagen station wagon when it came out in the 19 seventies, they said it looked like a bus. They said I wouldn't be caught dead in that vehicle, but you're not going to win over any husbands or any customers by telling them in your headline, Your wife won't let you buy this station, Mike. But you can accomplish the same aim by phrasing this unpleasant fact as a question. Why won't your wife let you by the station? The question mark softens the point and makes the add more friendly. With a little creative thinking, you can turn just about any statistic, any harsh truth, any boring fact product feature or marketplace trend into a question that makes your potential buyers stop and think for a minute. And that, after all, is the main purpose of a headline, isn't it? 8. Secret 6: Start telling a story: it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. That is the opening line of the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. If Jane Austen were alive today, she'd make a great copywriter. That's because Jane, if I may be so forward as to call her Jane knew how to start telling a story. That opening line is one of the most famous opening lines in all of English literature. Another writer who knew how to start telling a story was Julian Koenig. Julian was the copywriter on the Volkswagen account back in the 19 sixties and the 19 seventies, and he wrote some of the most memorable headlines in advertising history. And he did so by telling a story. Take a look at this double page magazine ad to see what I mean. It features a photo of nine people sitting in a Volkswagen station wagon in the countryside on a farm, the headline reads. The Volkswagen station wagon holds the entire population of Jiggs, Nevada. This headline acts just like the opening line of any great novel. It makes you want to read more. Who are these people? Where is Jiggs? Nevada? Here's another classic. If you'll excuse the pun, look at that photo. That is not the kind of photo that potential customers are expecting to see in a magazine ad for a car. And what about that headline? It was the only thing to do after the mule died. If you're like me, you're likely asking yourself, Who are these people? Where do they live? Why did they have a mule? Why did it die? What was the only thing to do after it died? That is the beauty of using your headline to start telling a story. If you start your story in the right way, readers will read your ad to see how the story ends. Here's my final example. That is a scene you don't expect to see. In the 19 sixties, the Volkswagen was not a fast car, and everyone knew that. Check out the headline. It's possible. What's possible. Looking at the photo, you assume that it's possible to get pulled over for breaking the speed limit in a Volkswagen. The image and the headline start telling you a story, and the body copy completes the story. As you can see, writing a headline that starts telling a story is an effective way to grab attention and motivate prospective customers to read your ad. This copyrighting technique works Justus well for brochures, email, newsletters, website landing pages and drink male sales letters. People love a good story, so if you can start your ads as well as Jane Austen started her novels, you will always find work as a copywriter. By the way, do you know the last line of Pride and Prejudice? Here it is with the gardener's. They were always on the most intimate terms. Yeah, that's allows the ending line. Jane stick to writing great headlines. I mean great opening lines of stories. 9. Secret 7: Tie your headline to current events: If you re just about any book on copyrighting for advertising, the author will invariably tell you that one of the best ways to start a headline is to put the word introducing or announcing or new in the headline. That's because people are fascinated with the latest news. The latest tablet, The latest Weather Report. The latest movie. If you put the word new in your headline, people will notice and they'll read your copy. That's the theory, and it works. But what do you do if your product is no longer knew? What if you don't have any news to tell, but you still have a product to sell? What do you do? What do you do then? While you tie your product to the news, you find a subject or a person that is trending and you tire advertising message to that. The Volkswagen ads that ran in the 19 sixties and 19 seventies did this beautifully and naturally. Consider this ad. It ran shortly after the first moon landing in 1969. In those days, everyone in America knew two things. They knew that Neil Armstrong had just walked on the moon and they knew that the Volkswagen Bug was really ugly. Hence the headline. It's ugly, but it gets you there in real life. Of course, the lunar module and the Volkswagen had nothing in common. But that's the beauty of the creative process. Creativity is the active taking to things that don't belong together and combining them in a unique way. That's what the folks at Volkswagen did after the first moonwalk. They tied their product to a current event in a clever, funny, memorable way. Here's another example. It appeared during the fuel crisis of 1973 when the price of oil quadrupled from $3 a barrel to $12 a barrel. Gasoline was so expensive in the United States that plenty of people gave up and parked their cars and stopped driving. The image is simple. The headline is simple, and together they make a powerful point that ties the product to a topic that is on everyone's mind. It's a great ad, although I would give you a word of caution. This ad makes a very obvious allusion to suicide. There are 21,000 people each year in the United States who commit suicide with a firearm suicide is nothing to joke about. So be careful that the current event or news story that you're linking your product to doesn't have any negative connotations that will hurt your sales and hurt your brand in the marketplace. Here's my final example. Back in the hippie movement days of the 19 sixties, this was a popular expression. Young people in the United States used this expression as a form of rebellion against what they perceived as the oppression by the older generation, especially the establishment. The man, as they called it The Black Panthers, used this slogan, all power to the people to protest the rich, ruling class dominating society and university students used this slogan to protest America's military campaign in Vietnam. In this ad, of course, Volkswagen is describing how their station wagon has an engine that's powerful enough to carry nine people, which is a good point to consider. You don't have to tie your product to a newsworthy event. You can tie it to a simple expression that everybody has started to say. Don't link it to a cliche. Your job as a copywriter is to write headlines that are just as clever as thes headlines from Volkswagen, and that's a tough job I know, especially if you're writing about a product that rarely changes. So take your eyes off the product for a minute. Instead of reading the spec sheet about the product for the 1/100 time, look for inspiration in the news. Read the newspaper, see what's trending on Twitter. Find something or someone or some expression that its current and tie your next advertising message to that. By the way, have you heard the news that George Clooney has grown a beard that looks just like mine? 10. Secret 8: Aim for the “hunh?” factor: Have you heard the story about the man who visits the psychiatrist? He says, Doc, you gotta help me. My brother thinks he's a chicken. The psychiatrist says, Why don't you have your brother come in and see me? The man replies. I would, but I need the eggs. That joke is one of those jokes that takes a second or two before it registers. Like all good jokes, I hope you'll agree that it was a good joke. It has a surprise at the end. It makes you go, huh? Then the light comes on and then you laugh. You can use this same tactic when you write your headlines. I call it going for the home factor. The undisputed masters of this type of headline writing were the creative team that worked on the Volkswagen account in the 19 sixties and the 19 seventies. They wrote some of the most clever headlines in advertising history. Let me show you what I mean. Here is an ad for the Volkswagen Beetle. The image of the car is at the top of the ad, and the headline is at the bottom. Don't let the low price scare you off that is a headline that makes you go, huh? It's puzzling. It makes you ask yourself, What do they mean? How can that be possible? But that's a contradiction in terms. A low price scare you off. After all, it is usually a high price that scares buyers away, not a low price. So this headline has that hunk factor. But then you read the body copy. Here's what it says. Some people won't buy a Volkswagen. They feel they deserve something more expensive. That's the price we pay for the price we charge. Now The headline makes sense. Here's another great example. The picture shows a Volkswagen for sale by the owner, the headline says. One of the nice things about owning it is selling it. You're probably thinking, How can selling it be a nice thing about owning it? It's got that huh factor. So you read the ad and your puzzle expression vanishes right away. Turns out that when one person buys a Volkswagen and another person buys amore expensive car after five years when both owners go to sell their vehicles, the Volkswagen is worth more and sells for more than the more expensive car you see how it works. You make the reader go, huh? With your headline, and you then solve the riddle in the opening lines of your body copy. Here's my final example. Read that headline now that you'll agree is a headline that makes you go, huh? A sports car for people who have better things to spend their money on than a sports car. What do they mean? The writer tells you right away in the body, Copy. Most people who want an expensive sports car and can afford one spend their money on better things. Things like getting married, buying a house, sending the kids to college. So Volkswagen made the Karmann Ghia. That's the sports car you see in the picture. They made a sports car that looks expensive but carries a modest price tag. Now the headline that made you go huh, suddenly makes sense. The value of using this technique is that it almost always forces your reader to read your copy. I say, almost because you can't really force perspective buyers to do anything, So this is a balancing act. You have to write your headline in such a way that you pique your reader's curiosity. without frustrating them. You don't want to write a headline that is so obscure that it makes your readers say that makes no sense at all. I think that copywriter needs to go see my psychiatrist. 11. Secret 9: Make them smile: What would you do if someone read your copy and started a laughing? Would you get upset? You don't have to. Humor is one of the most effective tools in your copyrighting toolbox. If you can craft headlines and body copy that put smiles on people's faces, you're a rare copywriter and a valuable one. If you want to learn how to add humor to your headlines, study the ads that Doyle Dane Bernbach created for Volkswagen back in the 19 sixties and the 19 seventies. Here's one of my favorites in the large space where Volkswagen usually put a photograph of their car, they left it blank. So you're I naturally drops down to the headline no point showing the 62 Volkswagen. It still looks the same. Volkswagen, of course, was famous in those days for not changing the body of their car year after year after year . So the blank canvas and the funny headline put a smile on your face, and they make this add a winner. Here's another example. By the time the 19 seventies rolled around, the Volkswagen Beetle was famous for being inexpensive but plain great on gas but boring and cheap to ensure butt ugly. People either love the car or they hated it. So Volkswagen acknowledged this in their headline. It's a zinger introducing the case. 70. For people who have liked everything about Volkswagen except the cars, that headline still makes me laugh. It's 50 years later. It also makes you want to read the ad. Here's my final example. That guy in the photograph is Wilt Chamberlain. He was a basketball star in the seventies, and he was seven foot one inch tall. Check out the headline. They said it couldn't be done. It couldn't. This ad is a perfect example of how Schumer works. You begin reading the headline. They said it couldn't be done. You look at the photograph, you think you know where the writer is going, and then you read the next part. It couldn't. Oh, there's the surprise. That's where the humor comes from. At the end, By the way, if you look back at the three adds that we've discovered you'll notice that Volkswagen always made fun of themselves. Whenever there headlines made you laugh, they made you laugh at Volkswagen's expense, and this was deliberate. Most jokes have a victim in most jokes. You're laughing at somebody. The safest kind of humor is humor that pokes fun at yourself or your brand or your product . If you can laugh at yourself, others will join in and no one gets hurt. The hard part is getting them toe laugh in the first place. I suggest you start with your headline, write a headline that makes people laugh at you and laugh real hard and you're on your way to making a sale. 12. Secret 10: Use headlines for features, images for benefits: one of your main jobs is a copywriter is to translate product features into benefits people by benefits, not features. Just so we're clear about the difference between a feature and a benefit. Ah, feature is what something does. It's something about a product. Ah, benefit is what that feature does for you or for me as the buyer. For example, this microphone that I have clipped to my tie. It has a feature called Low Frequency Rohloff. That's what it does. But what's the benefit of that feature? What's the benefit to me? What's the benefit to you? Well, because this microphone has low frequency Rohloff, it doesn't pick up the noise made by clothing. It doesn't pick up the noise usually heard in a room such as talking and footsteps. The benefit to me is recordings that air clear. The benefit to you is you can hear my voice okay without distracting ambient noise. Your challenge, of course, is a copywriter is figuring out how to describe product benefits in such a way that potential customers understand what you're saying and find it compelling. Your challenge is especially tough in print advertising, especially with headlines in print advertising and in printed sales, collateral and indirect mail. One of the most effective ways to communicate a product benefit is by demonstrating it with a visual. Take a look at this ad from the 19 sixties. It was created for the Volkswagen Beetle. Volkswagen wanted potential customers to know that Volkswagen's held their value. That's a feature. The benefit to the customer was that they would earn more for their Volkswagen when they came to sell it. But how do you communicate that benefit in an original way? You do it with a headline that states the feature and a photo that communicates the benefit . Check out the headline. After three years, the car that costs the least cost the most that is the feature clearly stated Volkswagen's Hold their value. Now check out the visual. It communicates the benefit of buying a Volkswagen. You earn more money when you sell your car. The headline states the feature. The image demonstrates the benefit. Now look at this ad. The headline states the feature. The last thing you'll need is power steering. Now I realize that this headline is a little cryptic, but what it is saying is that the Volkswagen doesn't have power steering and doesn't need it. But what is the benefit of no power steering? Well, the Volkswagen is so light it's easy to steer by hand. But that benefit is not in the headline. It's in the visual. That's because the best place to communicate a feature is in the headline, and the best place to communicate a benefit is in the visual. Here's 1/3 example. Volkswagen wanted potential customers to know that their car was inexpensive to buy. But inexpensive is just a feature. What is the benefit of buying an inexpensive car? The benefit is found in the photo. When you buy a Volkswagen instead of a fancier, more expensive car, you save enough money that you could buy a new stove, a new refrigerator, a new washer, a new dryer, a new record player and plenty more. You can see them all in the image. The secret to making this technique work for your campaigns is to think visually. Every time you come across a product feature, translate it immediately into a benefit that a customer will get from that feature, Then literally picture that benefit. Think of a creative visual way you can communicate that benefit to potential buyers. Communicate the feature in your headline, communicate the benefit in your visual 13. Secret 11: Comparing yourself? Better be clever.: if you're like most people, you don't like to listen to fast talking. High pressure salesmen brag about how much more superior their product is than competing products. You prefer to make your buying decisions at your own pace. You prefer to do your own comparison shopping and to make up your own mind about products. But as a copywriter, you have to talk about the competition. So how can you compare your product against the competing product without sounding like a high pressure bragging boasting sales person? How can you compare your product against the competition in such a way that your potential customer feels respected, even flattered? You can do that by getting creative with your headline and you're visual. Here's an example of an ad that appeared in the 19 sixties. It's for the Volkswagen station wagon. The main difference between the Volkswagen station wagon and competing station wagons is that the Volkswagen was twice as large inside, and yet it was shorter from front to back. Volkswagen compared their station wagon against the others in a creative way. With this visual and this clever headline, the Volkswagen station wagon, bigger than the biggest smaller than the smallest, the Volkswagen station wagon is the one in the middle of the ad. The fabric sunroof is open, showing that the vehicle is bigger inside than the larger station wagon is. And as you can see, the Volkswagen is clearly shorter than the smallest competing station wagon. That's the one at the bottom of the ad. Volkswagen compared their product with the competition in the compelling and clever way that respected the reader. Here's another ad for the same Volkswagen station wagon. This is another great example of how to compare your product with competing products, but do so with originality and respect. The photo shows a station wagon on the left, a van on the right and the Volkswagen station wagon in the middle. Check out the headline. If you can't decide between a station wagon and a van, get both. The opening line of the body copy says the 1976 Volkswagen station wagon has all the space of a van and Aldape lushness of a station wagon. Bingo! Nicely done, right? No pressure, no bragging. Here's another amazing at. Check out the visual. Those are the competing cars behind the wall. There's the Volkswagen still running out there on the road, going from left to right. Check out the amazing headline it will pass most other cars on the road Eventually, the Volkswagen, of course, was well known for having a four cylinder engine when most competing cars at eight cylinders other cars were more powerful. They were faster. The Volkswagen was not a fast car, and everybody knew it. But the Volkswagen was a well built, well designed, reliable car that held its value and ran for years. This ad makes all those points, but it compares the Volkswagen against its competitors in a creative, memorable way. The beauty of this ad is that it makes a powerful point about the superiority of Volkswagen's over competing cars in the area of longevity. And yet it does so in a way that still makes fun of the Volkswagen brand. The creative team that worked on the Volkswagen account were masters at this. They could brag about their car while comparing it with competing brands, and yet do so in a way that put a smile on your face and made fun of the Volkswagen brand. If you can write headlines as clever as these ones you'll stand out from your competition in a big way, and you won't have to brag about yourself to do so. 14. Secret 12: Find headlines in your body copy: If you've been writing copy for any length of time, you'll know that one of the hardest things to write is a good headline. Headlines have to be one of the toughest challenges in advertising, grabbing the attention of distracted people and persuading them to pay attention. That's not easy. If people don't read your headline, of course, then they don't read your body copy, so you can appreciate why headlines are so important. You can also appreciate why writing them is so difficult. Here's a tip to help you write better headlines faster. I learned this tip when I was a copywriter and auto away back in the late 19 eighties. This is the tip, right? Your body copy first and find your headline in the copy that doesn't make it into your final draft. Consider this ad for Volkswagen from the 19 seventies. Read the headline. The Oldest Reason in the World for buying a new one. Now read the first line of the body Copy Meet Jim Frying, age 25 his automobile age 23. That opening line could just as easily be the headline with a tweak owner age 25 His car age 23. See what I mean? When you're looking for inspiration for a headline? One of the best places to look is in your body copy. The reason is simple. Good opening lines are Justus hard to write as good headlines. When you were crafting your opening line, you likely wrote four or five or even 10 versions before you picked the final one. Now go back to the opening lines that didn't make it into your copy and see if any of them will be any good as a headline. Here's another example. Look at this ad, the headline says. Some Volkswagen owners look down on other Volkswagen owners. Now look at the opening sentence. When you graduate from a Volkswagen sedan toe a Volkswagen station wagon, you really stepped up in the world. That opening line would make a great headline, and that headline would make a great opening line. Another great place to look for headline Inspiration is the concluding lines that you try it out and discard it. You likely wrote dozens of those as well. You likely wrote some zingers, but you could only choose one. Now go back. Look over the zingers that didn't make it and see if any of them will work as a headline. Let me show you what I mean. Here's an ad that explains why Volkswagen's are so inexpensive. They don't have all the power accessories and other gizmos that more expensive cars have. You can see the headline. Don't let the low price scare you off. Now look at the concluding line. I'll paraphrase when you buy a Volkswagen, you don't pay for what you don't get. See what I mean? That concluding line could just as easily be the headline, and that headline could just as easily be the concluding line. Here's my final example. This ad promotes the benefits of the Volkswagen not having a radiator. The Volkswagen, as you probably know, is cooled by air, not by water, so it never boils over. Check out the concluding line of the ad. If you still think we're the ones with the funny car, cut this advertisement out. Put it in the drawer where you keep your repair bills with a little tweak that concluding line for just as easily be the headline for this ad. Imagine this ad having the same visual but this headline. If you think Volkswagen's air funny saved this advertisement in the drawer with your car repair bills? You see what I mean? The headline is a little bit longer, I'll admit. But you get my point. This technique only works if you're the kind of copywriter who can write your body copy before you've written your headline. I can't. I'm one of those unfortunate creatures who can't write a single line of copy until I know where I'm going. And I don't know where I'm going until I've written my headline. Sometimes I go through agony trying to right the perfect headline, but the benefits for me work the other way around. When I write a headline, I brainstorm and then write 10 20 sometimes even 30 headlines. And then I picked the best one. Then I write my body copy, as you probably know, the two hardest lines to write in body copier, the opening line and the concluding line. But because I agonized so much over my headline, By the time I get to my opening line in my concluding line, I'm already halfway there because about dozens of headlines to choose from, they didn't all make it into being a headline. But if any of them are any good with a little bit of a tweak or two, they might very well make excellent opening lines, concluding lines or even subheds. If I'm writing lots of copy or from running a brochure or a Web page. So if you have trouble writing headlines, right your body copy first. And if you have trouble writing opening lines and concluding lines, right, your headline first, the end. 15. Secret 13: Deliver on the premise of your headline: imagine for a minute that you're a guy and that you're shy around women. You don't know how to talk to women your age. Do you need to learn some really great pickup lines? How about these? Are you my appendix? Because I have a funny feeling in my stomach that makes me feel like I should take you out . Is there an airport nearby, or is that just my heart taking off? Here's 1/3 1 Do you work at Starbucks because I like you a latte? A. If you're shy, you don't need to memorize some cheesy pickup lines. You need to learn how to carry on a conversation. Starting a conversation is easy. Knowing what to say after you've delivered your pick up line is much harder. As a copywriter, you faced this same challenge with the first line of your body copy. Grabbing someone's attention with a great headline is one thing. Having a conversation with that person in your body copy is a lot harder. The first thing you must understand about the opening line in your body copy is that it must deliver on the premise of your headline without repeating it. A good headline doesn't sell it, teases a good headline, makes a claim or raises a question or poses a riddle, and the body copy must satisfy it. Let me show you what I mean. Look at this Volkswagen ad from the 19 seventies. This ad is part of a campaign that was voted the best ad campaign of all time. The photo shows a station wagon on the left, a van on the right and the Volkswagen station wagon in the middle. Check out the headline. If you can't decide between a station wagon and a van, get both. That headline states a simple premise. If you buy the Volkswagen station wagon, you get a station wagon and a van in one vehicle for the price of one that visual and that headline. Grab your attention. You're likely asking yourself, How is that possible to get two vehicles for the price of one? So you read the opening line. Now remember, the opening line must deliver on the premise of the headline without repeating it. The opening line of the body copies this. The 1976 Volkswagen station wagon has all the space of a van 176 cubic feet at all, and all the plush nous of a station wagon comfortable seating for seven. That's how it's done. Here's another example. The image is typical of so many Volkswagen ads of this era. It's plain, and it's unexciting, but the car doors open invitingly. Check out the headline. Take it for a test drive. See if you pass. Now there's a twist. That headline sets up a premise. When you take a Volkswagen for a test drive, you are the one being tested, according to this headline. Naturally, with a provocative headline like that, you expect the opening line of body copy to deliver on that premise. Here's what the first line says. The real test in a Volkswagen is to see if you know what driving really is. If you think you're driving in other cars than what you do in a Volkswagen is something else there. You see what the copywriter did? The opening line answers the question that the headline prompts when you test drive the Volkswagen. The test is to see if you know what driving is all about. Here's my final example. The picture shows a Volkswagen for sale by the owner, the headline says. One of the nice things about owning it is selling it. That headline establishes a clear premise, namely, this. Selling your Volkswagen is a pleasant experience. You're probably asking, in what way is it pleasant? Why is that a good thing? Well, you read the opening line to find out, and here's what it says. A new Volkswagen doesn't appreciate wildly the minute you turn the key, in a sense, the older it gets, the more valuable it gets. Nice job. The copywriter delivers on the premise of the headline without repeating what the headlines said. Remember what is at stake here? Your headline has just grab your reader's attention. Now your opening line is continuing the conversation. It's your headline that grabs attention, but it's your opening line that keeps the person's attention, so make sure you agonize over your opening line just as much as you agonize over your headline. There's nothing worse than approaching an attractive stranger, delivering a great pick up line and then not knowing what to say. Next. The result you get is disappointed. Don't ask me how I know 16. Secret 14: If in doubt, ask a question: the opening line of your body Copy has only two functions. One. Deliver on the premise of your headline and to compel your readers to keep on reading. For this reason, writing a great opening line is Justus tough as writing a great headline. But one shortcut to writing a great opening line is open with a question. Take a look at this ad for Volkswagen to see what I mean. In this ad, we see a girl leaning out the window of a Volkswagen, laughing at another brand of car. Volkswagen is back in the sixties and seventies were known for their funny looks. So what is funny about the other car in this picture? The other car is funny because it has a radiator that boils over. Volkswagen's didn't have radiators. They were cooled by air. The headline sets up the premise. Volkswagen's aren't really funny. Other cars are. The opening line of the copy has to deliver on this premise and compel the reader to keep reading. The ad does this with a question. Here's the opening line. Why don't you ever see a Volkswagen boiling simply because there's nothing to boil? The Volkswagen is cooled by air. You see what the question does. It forces you to read on to get the answer. And since one of the two goals Oven opening line is to compel the reader to keep reading, this opening line does a great job. Here's another example of how it's done that visual gets your attention, the headline says. Volkswagen over does it again. Four coats of paint now read the opening line. Why four coats of paint when three would be more than enough? Are you curious to know the answer to that question? We both are, which means we have to continue reading the ad to satisfy our curiosity. That's the beauty of putting a question mark at the end of your opening line. It makes people keep on reading. Here's another example of the power of questions. I say questions plural because this ad has not one question but a Siri's right at the beginning. That's a great image and a great headline, because most people can't spot any difference between one model year of Volkswagen. On another look at the opening paragraph, can you spot the Volkswagen with the fins or the one that's bigger or smaller or the one with the fancy chrome work. You can't the reason you can't see any revolutionary design. Changes on our car is simple. There aren't any now. I counted five questions in that opening, one question after the other. The answer I was looking for didn't come until I had read all five. Of course, now I want to know why Volkswagen doesn't change the design of their car. Even in 15 years. Every other card manufactured in those days changed their design every year. Why didn't Volkswagen I have to read the body copy to find out? Come to think of it, why does asking a question in your opening line cause many readers to raise other questions ? That's a good question. 17. Secret 15: Start with irony: a famous advertising man called Howard Gossage once said, Nobody reads advertising. People read what interests them, and sometimes it's an advertisement. If Howard Gossage is right, and I think he is, then one way to improve your copy is to make it more interesting to read. And one way to make your copy more interesting to read is to use irony. Irony, of course, is a literary device where you express yourself using language that usually means the opposite of what you're saying. Irony is where you use language that is contrary to what your reader expects and is therefore amusing. As a result, an example of irony would be me posting a video on YouTube about how boring and useless YouTube is. People would say that's ironic. One advertiser that was a master at irony was Volkswagen. Their ads from the 19 sixties to the 19 eighties featured some of the best copy ever written. Plenty of those ads used irony to make their copy more interesting and more readable. One place you can be ironic is your opening line. When you make your opening line mawr interesting. You increase your chances that your reader will read all your copy right to the end. Here's an example of what I'm talking about. Check out the headline. Live below your means Now read the opening line. If you'd like to get around the high cost of living, we have a suggestion cut down on the high cost of getting around nicely put almost poetic. What they're saying is get around the high cost of living by cutting down on the high cost of getting around. Here's another example. Check out that headline. There are a lot of good cars you can get for $3400. This is two of them. It's a great headline. So the ads starts with irony. Even in the headline Now read the opening line. The irony continues. If you don't happen to need two cars, there's only one thing that you need less. And that's one car that costs as much as two cars. When I come across clever writing like that, I want to keep on reading. I'm in the hands of a professional and the experience is enjoyable. Here's another example. I love that visual. It's a station wagon manufactured by one of Volkswagen's competitors. Again, the headline is ironic and so is the opening line of copy. As you can see, this wagon is loaded with reasons for owning a Volkswagen station wagon. My only reservation about that opening line of copy is that it almost repeats the headline , and that's something you never want to do with your opening line of copy. Here's my final example. It's for the Volkswagen station wagon. Again, the visual and the headline set you up for the opening line of irony. The bus is tall, the station wagon is short. The opening line of copy says we're not above borrowing a good idea when we see one. As you can see, using irony in your opening lines of copy sets you apart from other ads, and it sets you apart from other copywriters. Irony gives your copy a clever twist. Irony makes your copy more interesting to read. In other words, using irony makes a person want to read advertising, which I suppose is kind of ironic, isn't it? 18. Secret 16: Stick to one idea per ad: I'm about to show you a newspaper advertisement. The ad is going to be on your screen for five seconds. When those five seconds air over, I'm going to ask you a simple question. Here's the at now Here's my simple question. What was that ad about? I know you can't say for sure what the ad was about because it wasn't about one thing. It was packed from top to bottom and from left to right, with headlines, subheds, body copy, coupons, images, dollar symbols, disclaimers, deadlines and exclamation marks. If you look at the ad a second time, you'll see that it's promoting a sale at a Volkswagen dealership in Jordan, Utah, in the United States. The problem with this ad, of course, is that you're not going to look at it a second time. You're not even going to look at it for two seconds. The ad is too busy. It's packed with too much information. It's trying to say too much, and as a result it says nothing. Now let me show you another at the ad is going to be on your screen for five seconds. When the five seconds air over, I'm going to ask you a simple question. Here's the at now Here's my simple question. What was that ad about? The ad was about one thing. The Volkswagen is easy to park. If you look at the ad a second time, you'll see that it shows a Volkswagen backing into a tight parking spot. The headline tells you that the car is a Volkswagen. Most people in New York City do not own cars because there is nowhere to park them. But this headline says that you can own a car in New York City if it's a Volkswagen, because the Volkswagen is easy to park. Here's the lesson when you sit down to write an advertisement, aim to say one thing. Stick toe. One idea. Don't be like the Volkswagen dealer who tries to say dozens of things in one ad. Be like the ad agency that created this Volkswagen ad. Say one thing. I'm obviously talking about advertising here because advertising, by its very nature, constrains you as a copywriter. If you're writing a print ad, for example, you only have so much real estate on the page that you can put your words in. There's a limit to how much you can say. The other constraint that you face is the attention span of your reader. It's short. You have to assume that your potential buyer is going to look at your ad copy for one, maybe two seconds. You don't have much time. There's a limit to how much a person can take in. So because you're limited by space and because you're limited by a short attention span, you simply must limit your ad to one idea. Don't try to tell the buyer 12 things or even six things or even two things. Tell them one thing, one idea per at. Let me give you some examples from the most successful ad campaign in history. These ads are from the Volkswagen campaign that ran during the 19 sixties and the 19 seventies in the United States. Here's the most famous ad of the campaign. It deals of one thing. Volkswagen's attention to quality control. Here's another at this ad deals with one thing. How Volkswagen paints their cars with four coats of paint so that they last longer. This ad wants you to know one thing about Volkswagen. It's inexpensive to buy. This ad tells you one thing about the Volkswagen. It has better fuel economy than any other car on the road. This ad tells you one thing. Unlike other station wagons, the Volkswagen station wagon seats nine. You get the idea. You'll notice that each of these ads features a simple image, a simple short headline and a small amount of body copy. It's obvious at first glance that the Addis saying one thing and that reading the ad isn't going to assault your senses, tax your powers of concentration or insult your intelligence. Compare any of these ads with the dealer ad that I showed you at the beginning, and you quickly appreciate how much more attractive the Volkswagen ads are. They're easy to look at, easy to read and, most importantly, easy to understand. If you want your advertising to get through to your potential, buyers say less right less. Do less, say one thing, say it in a memorable way, then stop writing 19. Secret 17: Follow a simple script: Have you ever sat through a movie that was so poorly written that for most of the movie, you had no clue what was going on? The problem wasn't the acting or the set design or the costumes or the soundtrack. The problem was the script. A confusing script will always lead to a confusing movie. If you want perspective customers to read your copy all the way through and not get confused along the way, you need to follow a simple, step by step script. I'm talking about a logical way to structure your sales pitch on paper or on screen. When your prospective customers read your copy, they expect to read a sales pitch that's logical and easy to follow. Like a good movie script, your sales copy needs to follow a logical structure. If you want to see some good examples of how to structure a sales pitch on paper, check out the ads that Volkswagen ran during the 19 sixties and the 19 seventies. Here's one right here. This is a magazine ad for the Volkswagen Camp Mobile. The visual and the headline Get your attention. They also established the selling premise of the ad, which is this? Buying a Volkswagen Camp Mobile is like buying a second house only cheaper. Let's read the body copy. It's not as expensive as it sounds. There's no land to buy, no real estate taxes to pay. Yet you can own a hunting lodge in the mountains or a cottage at the beach, and you won't need a car to get you there. All you need is a Volkswagen Camp Mobile, which, as houses go, is rather unusual. It goes. You'll notice that the first thing the copywriter does is address an obvious objection cost . He makes it clear with the opening lines. He's not talking about you buying a literal house, a purchase that involves land and real estate taxes. The opening line describes a product feature low cost. Next, the copywriter shows you the benefit of buying an inexpensive house that is not actually ah house. And the benefit is you can take the house anywhere you want to go. The copywriter states another feature quote, but most people by the Camp mobile for what it comes with kitchen, including sink icebox and water pump dining table bedroom enough for two adults and two kids closets, screens curtains unquote. In this case, the copywriter does not state the benefit of the camp mobile having a kitchen because the benefit is obvious. Wherever you drive, you don't have to stop to eat. Same goes for the other features. The bedroom sleeps four. The curtains are privacy curtains. The benefits are obvious. You'll also notice that the writer is specific. The bedroom doesn't sleep. Four. It sleeps two adults and two kids, so you can picture that the copywriter mentions one last feature. Add the optional pop up top intent, and the cost of this home away from home is $3290 and you'll notice that at the end, the copywriter comes full circle to the selling premise of the ad, which is to say that you can buy a second house instead of buying a second car. He puts it like this. Lots of people pay that much for a car, and some pay that much for a vacation, but very few pay that little for a house. You'll notice that this ad does not conclude with a call to action. I'm not going to say that this is a mistake, because advertising age says that this ad campaign is the best campaign in history, and who am I to say that it's not? But I do recommend that you consider adding a call to action in every piece of copy that you write. We write our ads and sales letters and other sales copy so that people will do something we don't write to inform we right so that people will buy or that they will take the next action in the sale cycle. Ah called action tells the reader what to do, such as Visit a website, take a test drive, call the local dealer phone for a quote. If you look at the hundreds of ads that Volkswagen ran as part of this campaign, you'll discover that they all followed this basic script. Here it is again. State your sales premise, using a strong visual and a strong headline. Buying a Volkswagen Cama bill is like buying a second house only cheaper. Next, clarifying your sales premise in your first line of copy if needed. In this case, they say, we're talking about buying a camper, not a piece of real estate. Next start with a strong product feature in this case low cost for a second home. Next, follow the feature with a benefit. In this case, you can take the home anywhere you want. Next State another feature, followed by a benefit. In this case, the camper comes with a kitchen sink and icebox bedroom curtains you can eat on the road. You can avoid costly motels. You can enjoy privacy. Those are the benefits. Next, give concrete evidence for your claims. Be specific. The bedroom sleeps two adults and two kids, for example, state another feature and a benefit. In this case, the camper comes with an optional pop up top intent. Finally, at the end, return again to the main selling premise. In this case, you get all this for just $3290. In other words, buying a Volkswagen Camp Abeel is like buying a second house only cheap. Consider using a strong called action. Tell the reader what to do next. There you have it, a simple, logical way to lead your reader into your body copy, lead them step by step through your sales pitch and end with a call to action. If you're still awake right now and if you've understood everything I've said since I started talking than the script I wrote for this lecture has worked, bones. 20. Secret 18: Give multiple benefits for each feature: As you know, the cardinal rule for copyrighting is that you never stayed a feature without also stating a benefit. For example, this tie I'm wearing is silk. That's a feature. It's not wool. It's not polyester. It's silk. But what is the benefit of a silk tie? What is the benefit of silk over wool or polyester? Well, because of its natural protein structure, silk is the most hypo allergenic of all fabrics. It's great for people with allergies. Silk is also great in all climates. It's warm and cozy in winter, and it's comfortably cool in summer. Silk is highly absorbent, and it dries quickly. It can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp. And despite its delicate appearance, silk is robust and it's smooth. Surface resists soil and odors. Those air the benefits. If you're counting that six benefits of silk one feature, six benefits, your job as a copywriter is to discover every benefit of every feature of the product you're promoting. Your next job is to rank those benefits in order of their appeal and importance to potential buyers. Your final job is to write those benefits into your copy. Let me show you an example of what I mean. This ad is for Volkswagen. It appeared in the 19 sixties as part of a campaign that is considered the most successful campaign of all time. You'll notice that the visual and the headline use a classic Volkswagen advertising tactic . They ask a question that's answered in the body Copy. The stubby nose on the Volkswagen is a feature, but Volkswagen states this feature in the form of a question. The answer to this question will contain the benefits. So you read the opening line of copy. Here's what it says. The Volkswagen doesn't need a long front hood because the engines in the back of the car now that is clearly reason number one for Why the noses stubby, but it does not deliver a benefit. By the way, did you notice the redundancy in that sentence? They say the Volkswagen doesn't need a long front hood. The hood on a car is always at the front, so it's redundant to call the hood at the front. The front hood avoid redundancies like that. But I digress, the writer continues. It makes for a shorter car, so you can move in and out of traffic. That's benefit number one, and you can move in and out of tight little parking spots. That's benefit number two and another redundancy. They say you could move in and out of tight parking spots. By definition, parking spots are little, so calling a tight parking spot a tight little parking spot is also redundant. But I digress. The writer says. Your chances of denting offender in a Volkswagen are practically nil. That's benefit number three. The Volkswagen Short Hood lets you look down your nose at the road for better visibility. This is benefit number four, a better view of the road. The rest of the ad describes out of things that are on the Volkswagen for good reasons and concludes by saying that the Volkswagen depreciates slowly and stays in style year after year. Do a word count and you'll discover that this copywriter found four benefits of the Volkswagen stubby nose and work them into the 1st 80 words of the ad where they count the most. Remember, for every feature of your product, there are usually multiple benefits. Your job is to discover them all, rank them in order of their importance to buyers and then spell them out in your copy, one after the other benefit of doing so is simple. People will buy your product. 21. Secret 19: Back all claims with proof: back in the 19 sixties, a car in the United States developed a reputation for being an honest car. The car was the Volkswagen Beetle, and this reputation for being an honest car was largely because of the advertising campaign that launched the car in North America. How did Volkswagen persuade people that their car was honest? They did it with advertising that was filled not with hype, but with proof. If you want people to trust your advertising, then learn a lesson from Volkswagen. Here is one of their assets The ad is for the Volkswagen station wagon. Volkswagen wants to persuade you the potential buyer that their station wagon holds mawr than the average station wagon, so they give you a demonstration to prove their point. Here is the opening line of copy. This picture may look a little odd, but so are most conventional station wagons. When you consider how little they hold the two station wagons in the picture above hold on average 85 cubic feet each. The Volkswagen station wagon holds twice that, Ah, 170 cubic feet. Nicely done that is visible proof. Here is another kind of ad with another kind of proof. In this ad, Volkswagen is claiming that their car is worth mawr after three years than other brands of car are worth after the same amount of time. They demonstrate their claim with a clever visual, but they proved their point in the opening line of copy here. In its quote, the official used car guide is full of surprises to show you what we mean. We've pitted 1 1966 Volkswagen against seven popular 1966 compacts back when they were spanking new. The popular compacts sold for, on average, 610 mawr than the Volkswagen. The same compacts now sell off a used car lot for an average of $201 less than the Volkswagen unquote. Notice. The proof. Volkswagen's cites a trusted, impartial industry source, the used car guide, and they quote the sale and resell prices down to the dollar. If you want people to believe your copy than prove your claims with unimpeachable visuals and evidence from trusted third party authorities, you'll see better results in no time. You can trust me on that 22. Secret 20: Borrow credibility: when you go to Amazon to buy a book or a blender, do you ever read the reviews most buyers do? Most buyers want to know what other people think of a product before they buy it, but the opposite phenomenon also happens. Some people will buy a product simply because others have bought it. This phenomenon is known as social proof social Proof, also known as informational. Social influence is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect correct behavior for a given situation, and then they act in the same way they imitate the behavior they think is correct. You see this among teenagers, especially. Why do teenagers drink Red Bull and use Snapchat all day? Because older friends do. You can use social proof to your advantage in your advertising copy to see a few examples of how it's done. Come with me back in time to another decade, another century, another millennium, the 19 sixties and the Volkswagen campaign. Volkswagen discovered that one of the best ways to popularize their car was to show how popular it waas. They did this with a classic ad. I don't know how many advertisers would show a picture of their product covered by a tarpaulin and who would even cover their logo? Not many advertisers, but Volkswagen did read the headline, What is the best kept secret in Washington, D. C. The ad tells you the opening line asks what is the most popular car among diplomats in Washington, D. C. We did some snooping around and discovered that the car most diplomats by is neither very big nor very impressive. Unquote, the ad goes on to describe this car without ever naming the Volkswagen brand. But the ad is unmistakably for a Volkswagen, and the ad uses social proof to make its point. MAWR diplomats in Washington, D. C. Dry Volkswagen's than any other brand. That's social proof. Here's another great example. This time the creative team on the Volkswagen account traveled to Honduras in Central America and snap a photograph of a typical intersection. The headline is a wee bit cryptic, so we read the body copy. In Honduras, gasoline costs 52 cents a gallon. That was expensive in those days. In Honduras, gasoline costs 52 cents a gallon and temperature soared 120 above, and water is scarce and roads are wicked and people aren't rich. So is it any wonder that in a town light sent Pedro Sula, Honduras, 100% of the taxis are Volkswagen's, and 100% of the buses are Volkswagen buses. Unquote. When 100% of a target market drives your product, that is social proof. Social proof is worth capitalizing on. The difference between social proof and a testimonial from a satisfied customer is basic. A testimonial this from one customer, and you need that customers permission to use their testimonial. Social proof, on the other hand, involves thousands or hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers, and you don't need to get their permission to tell their story and help them help you sell your product. No, if you believe in the power of social proof, and if you think that my course is worth it, why not give me a five star review? Others will read your review on the take the course. As a result, I know thank you 23. Secret 21: Keep your reader reading: anglers in Maine catch trout using dry flies with the bar bliss hooks. Unless the anglers keep tension on the line all the way to the net, they lose the tropes. Your sales copy must do the same. You must keep your readers hooked all the way to the end of your copy. If you hope to land a sale toe, learn how it's done. Consider the ads that ran in the 19 sixties and 19 seventies for Volkswagen. The copy writers on the Volkswagen account were masters at keeping their readers hooked right to the end. Here is one ad It's unusual in that the ad doesn't feature an image of the car. The visual and the headline make you want to read the body. Copy. Let's read the ad. A Volkswagen starts looking good when everything else starts looking bad. Let's say it's late at night and you can't sleep. It's 10 below, and you forgot to put antifreeze in your car. Ah, Volkswagen doesn't use antifreeze. Its engine is cooled by air. Next paragraph. Let's say it's now. Morning, You start your car and the gas gauge reads empty. Even with a gallon of gas left, you should go approximately 27 miles in the Volkswagen next paragraph. Let's say you notice on your way out of the driveway that every other car on your block is stuck in the snow. Volkswagen goes very well and snow because the engine is in the back. It gives the rear wheels much better tracks. The next paragraph begins, let's say and so does the next part. Each paragraph begins with a hypothetical situation that begins with the phrase Let's say in this way the copywriter keeps you hooked all the way from start to finish. Another device you can use in your copy to keep your readers hooked to the end is numbered lists. The secret is to set the reader up for the number list. The easiest way to do this is with a question. This ad asked the question. Why are people buying? Volkswagen's faster than they can be made. Body copy, then lists the reasons there are eight of them. You'll notice that each reason has its own numbered Subhead. Reason number one is the air cooled engine that can't freeze or overheat. Reason number five is the superior craftsmanship. Reason Number eight is the low price. You get the idea if you present your features and benefits in the form of a number of list throughout your body copy. You encourage readers to read all your points. They might just skin, but they'll read your points and they'll get your pitch because it's numbered. Here's our final example. The images. The outline of the Volkswagen station wagon The headline says. We started with a simple plan. The copy is a bit hard to read, so let me read it for you. Paragraph one. It all began with the notion that a station wagon should hold a lot and so on. Next paragraph. So when we sat down to design the station wagon, we started by drawing a big box. Next paragraph. This gave us room to see eight people, and so on. Next paragraph. Once we got the people in, we couldn't just let them sit there in the dark. So we cut 21 windows toe. Let the light in next paragraph to make the thing go. We put the air cooled Volkswagen engine in back. I think you get the idea. The copywriter hooks you with a headline and keeps you hooked by telling you a story. We started with this notion. Then we designed this box and then we made it so that eight people could fit in. Then we cut the windows. Then we put in the engine. The secret to this literary device is to start each paragraph with a word that carries its own momentum. Like this. It all began. So then we did so and so this gave us such and such. And what we ended up with was so and so the secret isn't just to tell a story, but the tell a story using distinct paragraphs that all start in an interesting way and that all follow logically one after the other. If you can master the art of keeping your readers hooked right to the end, you'll sell a lot of what you're selling, and you'll always be able to find work that puts food on your table here. 24. Secret 22: Build trust with specifics: if you write an ad or a brochure or sales letter for this factual and true well, prospective buyers believe every word you write. Not necessarily. Many people don't believe what they read in advertising. Many people don't trust the claims made by manufacturers. So how can you help your readers to trust your copy by being specific? If you want people to think you are hiding something or being less than honest, speak in generalities. But if you want people to believe you and trust you, then speak in specifics. Here's an example of how it's done. This is a full page magazine ad that appeared in the 19 seventies in the United States. You can see the ad is for the Volkswagen Camp Mobile. Let's read the body copy. It has enough sleeping accommodations for a family of five. That's a specific number. It has a sink and 4.5 gallon supply of water. Is the water supply large or world class or amazing? No. The water supply is 4.5 gallons, the copy continues. It has a pantry, a dining room table and a 2.7 cubic foot icebox unquote notice. The specifics. The Volkswagen Camp Mobile doesn't have a table. It has a dining room table. It doesn't have a large ice box. It has a 2.7 cubic foot icebox, the copy continues. It has a closet for Lin in a closet for clothes and no less than three large storage cabinets for all your other stuff. Unquote, the capital bill doesn't just have to clauses. It has a linen closet and a clothes closet. For buyers, these distinctions are important, and so they are important to the copywriter. The final sentence in the ad is also specific. Quote. It can move you to greener pastures at about 23 miles on a gallon of gas unquote. You'll notice that little weasel word in there. It doesn't get 23 miles to the gallon. It gets about 23 miles to the gallon. Well, Volkswagen has to say about 23 miles to the gallon because this is a number that fluctuates depending on the driver, the driving conditions, the time of year and a few other factors. But you'll notice that the copywriter still gives you a specific number 23 miles on a gallon of gas. Here's another ad from the same campaign. This one is for the Volkswagen Beetle. The ad describes how each folks wagen is tested and inspected before it is made available for sale. This ad is a textbook case in how specifics are more believable than generalities. Let's read the ad. The road to becoming a Volkswagen is a rough one. The obstacles or many. Some make it some crack. So far, all that the copywriter has done is make some claims. But now comes the evidence quote. Those who make it are scrutinized by 8397 inspectors, 807 of whom are finicky women. Now, if you can ignore the blatant sexism from this 19 sixties ad, you'll notice the specific numbers. Not 8400 inspectors, but 8397 inspectors, not 800 female inspectors, but 807 In the next paragraph. You read that each Volkswagen is quote subjected to 16,000 different inspections. They don't say Ah lot of inspections or mawr than 15,000 inspections, but they say 16,000 inspections. They are driven the equivalent of three miles on a special test stand. Notice three miles. Quote. Every transmission is broken in every transmission. That's specific quote. We put them through mud and salt to make sure they won't rust unquote. Notice that the copywriter does not use some highfalutin language to describe this process . He does not call it a pre delivery rust prevention vehicular assessment. No, he describes it for what it is. We put Volkswagen's through mud and salt to make sure they won't trust. That's good, honest, specific Copy. Now you're only halfway through the copy, but there are many more specifics to come. Volkswagen's Air Tested in a wind tunnel. They're driven over eight different road surfaces to check out the ride. The torch in bars are twisted 100,000 times to make sure the torch in properly keys are turned in lakhs 25,000 times to make sure they don't break off in the luck. At the end of the ad, you get the final specific 200. Volkswagen's are rejected every day. Now you will likely say that this number is not exactly specific but is instead an average . I mean, Volkswagen doesn't reject exactly 200 cars a day, right? They only reject the cars that are rejects and the number is roughly 200 a day. Fewer sometimes Mawr, but the number of rejects is around 200 a day. But this specific number, even though it's an average, is a number that most car manufacturers never divulge. Most car manufacturers don't want you to know how many of their cars never make it out of the plant because they're defective. But Volkswagen wants you to know this number, and that in my book makes this ad believable and trustworthy. Remember the rule specifics? Cell generalities Don't. If you want potential buyers to believe your claims and to trust your brand, be specific. 25. Secret 23: Write quirky testimonials: If you're like most copywriters, you want potential customers to trust your copy. You want them to find your copy compelling, interesting and most of all, believable because it's true. If that's the case, my recommendation is that you let an amateur right your copy for you. Now don't panic. What I'm talking about is including a testimonial in your copy and the world of sales and marketing. A testimonial is a statement made by a satisfied user of a product or service. Testimonials. Make your copy more believable because they show potential buyers why your current customers are happy with your product. But testimonials only work. If they meet two criteria, they must be specific, and they must be authentic by specific and authentic. I mean that they should not be general and anonymous. If you want to see great examples of testimonials that are specific and authentic and also fun to read, check out the ads at Volkswagen created in the 19 sixties and 19 seventies. Here are some examples. First, notice the image in this ad. It features the satisfied customer looking directly at you, the potential customer he's identifiable next noticed the headline Mr Kennedy and his 1947 1955 and so on. That's quite the headline. The satisfied customer has a name. He's Mr Kennedy. Notice the first line of body copy as long as Michael Kennedy can remember, there's always been a bug around the house of that car behind him was known as the Volkswagen Bug. The satisfied customer, it turns out, has a name. Michael. He's Michael Kennedy. The ad goes on to describe how Michael, instead of buying a new Volkswagen, built a Volkswagen out of spare parts. He was an engine built in 1955. He got offender that was built in 1962 a transmission that was built in 1965. You get the idea, and now you understand the headline. The point that Volkswagen is making in this ad. The selling proposition, that is, is that Volkswagen parts are interchangeable from one year to the next. That keeps the cost of the car down, and it makes repairs affordable. But instead of Volkswagen simply telling you that there parts are interchangeable from one year to the next, they show you a riel breathing person who assembled a Volkswagen himself from parts that spanned the years 1947 to 1965. That's 18 years. They show you a photo of that satisfied customer leaning against his car. He's outside his house. They tell you his first and last name. They even show you his license plate number because Volkswagen has gone to all this trouble . I believe that Volkswagen parts really are interchangeable because Michael Kennedy says they are. Here's another example. The selling proposition in this ad is that Volkswagen's are dependable cars that run for decades. The subject of this testimonial is a man who held on to his former car for 33 years because it ran so well. When the time came to buy a new car, he bought a Volkswagen because of their reputation. For last thing a long time, the visual and the headline Grab your attention. The body copy tells you that this man is Albert Gillis. He's 78 years old. He's a justice of the peace. He owned that model. A Ford behind him for 33 years notice that the license plates on both cars are clearly visible. They're from the state of Wisconsin in the United States. Towards the end of the ad. The copywriter quotes Mr Gillis twice direct quotes in your testimonials. Add authenticity. People don't talk the way that copywriters, right? So if you can quote a satisfied customer in a way that brings out their unique personality and you're quoting them directly, all the better. Here's another example. Like all of the testimonial ads that Volkswagen ran, it features a quirky photo and on a bleak, obscure headline that simply compel you to read the body copy toe. Learn more about the story. Volkswagen starts building trust with you, the reader Right away with the opening line, Father Aloysius Pittman bought a bug that was in 1957 when he joined the staff of ST Anthony's Indian Mission in Mandiri, North Dakota. You learn the name of the man in the photo. You learn about his type of employment. You learn his job title. You even learned the name of his employer. The ad goes on to describe how Father Bittman has bought 30 Volkswagen's for his staff. The copywriter recounts how Father Bittman's Volkswagen broke through the ice on the garrison reservoir. This ad also quotes the person giving the testimonial once in the middle of the ad and again at the end. I believe there really is a Father Bittman and that he and his 65 Volkswagen really did break through the ice of the Garrison Reservoir one winter. I also believe that Volkswagen's are dependable, driving over dirt and gravel roads and in temperatures that go to 55 degrees below zero, as it says they do in this ad. Why do I believe this? Because Father Bittman, Cecil Volkswagen's ran plenty of other testimonial ads. Here's one about police Officer H. L. Wilkerson of this Scottsboro, Alabama, police department. Here's a testimonial about Mr and Mrs Henley of Dora, Missouri. Here's one about Chuck Lou, owner of a Chinese restaurant in White Plains, New York All of these testimonials have a few things in common. They feature ordinary customers, ordinary people that Volkswagen's potential customers contrast and believe in. Each testimonial features a quirky photograph that grabs your attention. Each testimonial names. The person giving the testimonial tells you what they do for a living, tells you where they work and gives you other specific details of the person's life so that you believe that testimonial is genuine because it is, each testimonial takes the form of a story. If you want to educate your readers, you give them fax. But if you want to inform them and entertain them at the same time, tell your fax in the form of a story. Now I'm not saying that you have to go out and find a Roman Catholic minister from North Dakota or a Chinese restaurant owner from New York state or a police department in Arizona and get them to tell their story and give you an amazing testimonial. But, hey, if you confined satisfied customers like that, it can't hurt. 26. Secret 24: Use parallel structure: one of the hallmarks of a good copywriter is original Copy. You know, good copy when you read it because you've never read copy like it before. Good copy is original, it says familiar things in unfamiliar ways. One way to be original is to use parallel structure in your copy. I just use parallel structure. A second ago, I said, You know, good copy when you read it because you've never read it before, I said That original copy says familiar things in unfamiliar ways. That's a parallel structure. Some of the best examples of original copy are found in the Volkswagen ads that ran during the 19 sixties and 19 seventies. Here's an example of what I mean. This is one of the most famous ads from the campaign. Notice the original headline. The popular expression, of course, is that beauty is only skin deep, with this copywriter turns that cliche on its head in an original way. Now look at the body copy notice the parallel structure in the first sentences. Beneath that humble exterior beats an air cooled engine. It won't boil over and ruin your piston rings. It won't freeze over and ruin your life. Then there's the parallel structure in the second paragraph. After a while, you get to, like so much about the VW, even get toe like what it looks like. Notice the repetition of one thought. In the next sentence, you find there's enough leg room for almost anybody's legs, enough headroom for almost anybody's head. That's original copy. It says something familiar in an unfamiliar way, and it has a meter of its own. It's almost poetic. Here's another example. This ad is for the Volkswagen station wagon. The Volkswagen station wagon has lots of room in the back because it has a flat front end all the spaces in the rear. Now see how the Copywriter NZ ad outside the VW station wagon, maybe front lis, but inside it's endless. Notice the parallel structure outside. It's this, but inside it's that here's another at this one. For most the benefits of the Volkswagen engine being cooled by air rather than by water. The Volkswagen doesn't have a radiator in the middle of the copy, the writer says. You never have plumbing problems or water repairs or hoses to replace. Apart from the troubles you don't have, there's the money you don't spend. There's that sing song structure again. The troubles. You don't have the money you don't spend. I realize that this lesson may sound like an oxymoron. After all, I'm showing you examples of original copy, and I'm recommending that you copied the style so that your copy is also original. You're likely thinking, Alan, how can I be original by copying someone else? Well, you can't. The copywriter on the Volkswagen account developed a voice for the brand that was distinctive. That voice was usually ironic. It was warm and personal. Use simple words and short sentences, and it used repetition and parallel structure to describe an ugly car in beautiful ways. You can do the same in your copy. You just have to read good copy notice. That is good because it's original and then make your copy original as well 27. Secret 25: Spin your strongest feature into a theme: If you want people to take an interest in your copy, you have to make your copy interesting to read. One way to do that is to take a strong feature of your product and spin it into a theme. Let me show you what I mean. This is an ad that ran back in the 19 sixties for Volkswagen. At a time when cars were getting bigger and bulkier, Volkswagen introduced a car that was tiny by comparison. They took the cliche. Think big, and they turned it around to say Think small. The small image of the car and the think small headline set you up as a reader to expect Volkswagen to talk about their small car. I'm going to read the ad so that you can see how the cooperator takes this feature, that the Volkswagen is small and spends that feature into a theme throughout the at. So here's how it starts. Our little car isn't so much of a novelty anymore. A couple of dozen college kids don't try to squeeze into it. The guy at the gas station doesn't ask where the gas goes. Nobody even stares at our shape anymore. In fact, some people who drive our little flipper don't even think about 32 miles to the gallon as going great guns anymore or using five pints of oil instead of five quarts or never needing antifreeze or racking up 40,000 miles on a set of tires. That's because once you get used to some of our economies, you don't even think about them anymore. Except when you squeeze into a small parking spot or renew your small insurance. Or pay a small repair bill or trade in your old VW for a new one. Think it over. Did you catch it? I'm sure you did. The Volkswagen is small, but so is the amount of gas it uses. So is the amount of engine oil that it burns. It parks in small spaces. The insurance premiums, small repair bills or small. This is one clever add. It takes a well known feature of the product and spins that feature into a theme. Think small. Can you do the same with your product or service? Take a good hard look at every feature, every benefit of your product or service. See if there's a way to spend one of those features or one of those benefits into a clever , memorable theme. You don't have to think big. Just think long. 28. Secret 26: Use original clichés: hack copywriters are easy to spot. They write in cliches. Ah, hat Copywriter tells you toe put your best foot forward because there's no time like the present to play your cards right. So you better come full circle and put your money on the line so that you can buy it for a song. Cliches are the mark of a hack copywriter, but all copywriters think in cliches. If you've ever sat through a brainstorming session to create a headline or a slogan, you'll know that cliches are the first things that everyone thinks off. It's a simple matter of word association. Someone sitting at the table says a word, and your mind immediately remembers all of the trait tired, overused expressions that feature that word or that idea. But just because an expression has been beaten to death, if you'll excuse the cliche, that doesn't mean you can't use that cliche in your copy. The secret is to take that cliche and give it a tweak to make it original again. If you want to see how it's done, take a look at some of the Volkswagen ads that ran during the 19 sixties and 19 seventies. Here's a famous one. The cliche, of course, is that beauty is only skin deep. But take that cliche, switch it around and you have a memorable headline. Here's another that's about the size of it is a Cliche aid way to sum up an argument or finish telling a story. Volkswagen used this cliche along with a clever visual to show that their station wagon is only a little bit longer than their famous small car. Here's a great example of a familiar expression used out of context. If you travel by bus, you'll know that when passengers crowd at the front of the bus standing, even when there are plenty of empty seats available at the rear, the driver will yell, Move to the back, please! There's plenty of room at the back of the bus. Well, Volkswagen co opted this well known expression to describe how much room there is at the back of their station wagon, which was also known as the bus, which brings up a good point. Plenty of room at the back of the bus isn't a cliche. It's not a worn out, overused expression. It's just on expression that people are used to hearing. So, as you can see, you can also make your copy original by taking unoriginal expressions from everyday life and making them original again. Here are two examples. Mass Transit Sports Car You can't get much more clever than that. Each headline contains just two words. Each headline is a well known expression that's used out of context in a new way. And notice how these well known expressions, when used in new ways help Volkswagen say exactly what they want to say about their product but in an original way. So take heart. Just because the first thing that pops into your mind is a cliche doesn't mean that you can't use that cliche in your copy. Maybe you can just turn it around, Say it backwards, Turn it upside down, spin it, tweak it and remember, If at first you don't succeed, well, you know the rest 29. Secret 27: Write in pictures: How could you get a perspective buyer to see things your way by painting a picture with worse. People are visual. They respond to images, pictures, colors and shapes better than they respond to words. So if you can create an image in the mind of your potential customer, you're more likely to make sense. Make your point and make a sale. Here's an example of what I mean. This is a classic add that Volkswagen ran back in the 19 sixties. It makes fun of the fact that the Volkswagen Beetle was famous for being an ugly car on the inside, but dependable and inexpensive to run on the outside. Check out this line in the middle of the ad. After a while, you get toe like so much about the VW. You get toe like what it looks like you find it. There's enough leg room for almost anybody's legs and enough headroom for almost anybody's head with a hat on it. There's the picture. You can see it enough headroom for almost anybody's head with the hat on it. Can you see the picture of the driver in the front seat wearing a hat? That's the power of writing with pictures. Here's another example. It's for the Volkswagen station wagon, the Addis selling you on one of the strongest features of the vehicle, which is how big it is inside. Listen to this line of copy from the ad where most cars have something called a consul between the two front seats, the new box bus has an ill, so if the mood strikes you, you can walk the length of the box. Now That's a vivid image, isn't it? You're in one of the front seats, and the mood strikes you. So you stand up and you walk between the two front seats, past the passengers behind you all the way to the back of the vehicle. You were able to picture that in your mind because the copywriter painted that picture for you with words. Here's my final example. This ad sells you on how much different the Volkswagen is to drive compared with larger sedans. The copywriter is describing the suspension quote. The VW isn't sprung like other cars. It's four wheel torch Inbar suspension. That kind, they haven't racers gives you the feel of the road. Now what image popped into your mind when you read that the suspension on the Volkswagen is the same as the kind they use in racers. If you have been reading this ad back in 1968 when it ran in magazines, the image that popped into your mind would have been something like this. That's the power of writing with pictures. Let me give you a final example of the power of writing and pictures. Do you know what an acre looks like? Can you picture it in your mind? Most people can't. But what if I told you that an acre is the same size as an American football field without the end zones? Now you know what an acre looks like. You can picture what an acre looks like. Remember, people are visual. You can take advantage of that in your copyrighting by helping your potential customers picture how your product will help them. It's not that hard to do if you see what I mean. 30. Secret 28: Come full circle at the end: how you end your copy is almost as important as how you started. What you say in your last line is almost as important as what you say in your first line. One way to finish your sales pitch is to come full circle back to the beginning of your copy. Let me show you what I mean. Look at this ad. It ran in the 19 sixties for the Volkswagen Bug. The image shows the front end of the car, and the headline asks you a question. Why is our nose so stubby? The ad goes on to explain that the front of a Volkswagen stubby, because the engine is not in the front of the car, the engine is in the rear. The ad tells you of the many benefits of the engine being in the rear. The final sentences of the ad tell you that everything on the Volkswagen is there for a reason. And here's the concluding thought from the ad, which is one reason the VW depreciate so little and stays in style year after year. Nose and all. The copywriter at the end of the ad brings you full circle back to the headline and talks about the nose of the car. Here's another example. It's for the Volkswagen station wagon you'll see from the visual and the headline that the ad is promoting one of the benefits of the tall station wagon. The ad explains that Volkswagen didn't make their vehicle tall just to stand out. They made it that way because it made sense being so tall. The Volkswagen station wagon holds twice a much as competing station wagons notice how the copywriter ends. The at What's really nice is that something so flagrantly practical is so much fun to drive , even on a routine trip to the supermarket. Okay, so you stick out a little. Maybe it's time you'll notice that the copywriter takes you full circle back to the beginning of the ad in two ways. The writer says the station wagon is fun to drive, even on a trip to the supermarket, and the visual in the ad is of a parking lot of the kind that you'd see at the supermarket . And the copywriter also says that driving a station wagon makes you the driver stick out a little. This is clearly a reference to the headline, which tells you that the station wagon itself sticks out. Here's a final example. As you can see, the ad promotes an optional extra that you get with their latest model, a Sunroof. The ad begins with a memorable opening line. For some extra dollars, you can buy a Volkswagen with a hole in its roof. The ad goes on to explain how the sunroof operates, and it describes how the sunroof closes with a clamp with an airtight, watertight seal. And the ending of the ad is classic. In short, this folks Wagen does just about everything that and the other Volkswagen does, plus a little more so you can see you don't have to have a hole in your head to buy a Volkswagen with the hole in its head. Very clip, you may wonder why Volkswagen ended so many of their ads by coming full circle to the beginning of their add to the headline and the opening copy. You may wonder why they made a clear reference to something that they had said earlier on in there. At one reason is that the copywriter on the account was a creative genius, so I can't help you there but coming full circle helps the potential buyer get a sense that the ad has finished properly. Coming full circle gives the reader a sense of closure, and this device is also useful when your ad is a brand ad and not a direct response. That Volkswagen's ad campaign in the 19 sixties and 19 seventies promoted the Volkswagen brand and the Volkswagen lineup of cars and station wagons. But their ads were not designed to drive retail traffic at Volkswagen dealers across the country. The primary goal of each Volkswagen ad was to change perceptions of the vehicle. Volkswagen wanted potential buyers toe look at their vehicles as viable alternatives to competing brands. The message of every ad was that you should buy a Volkswagen, but the ads never came out and told you directly to call a 1 800 number or visit your local Volkswagen dealer or mail in a coupon. The ads were instead brand ads, and for that reason they never had a call to action at the end. Now, if your ad doesn't have a call to action at the end, it had better end in a classy, memorable way. And so that's what Volkswagen did. Volkswagen knew how you end your copy is almost as important as how you started 31. Secret 29: Give your buyer something to think about: one primary goal of all your copy is to change people's perceptions about your product. I realize that you and I write copy to sell products and services. That's a given, but a great deal of what we write doesnt lead to an immediate sale. Instead, it leads to a potential buyer seeing our brand in a different way. Since one goal of all copy is to change people's thinking, your copy should end in a way that makes people think what you say at the end of your copy should motivate prospects to think a little differently. Let me show you a couple of examples of how to do that. This Addis for the Volkswagen Beetle it ran in the 19 sixties in the United States in what is considered the most successful ad campaign off all time. As you can see from the headline, this ad is promoting, one of the main selling features of the Volkswagen, namely, the body of the car never changes from year to year. The ad explains why Volkswagen spends their time improving the car, not changing the model. The ad shows you why keeping toe one basic model makes sense and is better for the car buyer in many ways, notice how the copywriter ends the ad. If you had to decide between a car that went out of style every year or two and a car that never did, which would it be? That is a strong way to end an ad, a direct question aimed at a potential buyer forcing that person to start thinking seriously about the benefits of buying a Volkswagen instead of a competing brand. Here's another example. This ad promotes the benefits of driving a car that is cooled by air instead of water. The Volkswagen doesn't have a radiator, so it never boils over. It never freezes in winter. Check out the concluding line of the ad. If you still think we're the ones with the funny car, cut this advertisement out. Put it in the drawer where you keep your repair bills. Now that's a provocative thing to say at the end of an ad. That last line forces the reader to think about their repair bills, and it forces them to give serious thought to buying a car that is less costly to maintain and repair. Here's another example. This ad is promoting the Volkswagen Square back sedan. As you can see from the visual and the headline, the square back sedan is shorter than competing station wagons. It has less room inside, but it also costs a lot less. Here is the last line of the ad. So if you're trying to decide between one of the big station wagons around and our little car better ask yourself this question. Is the extra space worth all the extra money? You'll see that Volkswagen ends its ad with another question that gets a potential buyer thinking, um, I willing to pay for extra space that I don't need? Probably not. Here's my final example. This ad promotes a main selling feature of Volkswagen's Parts are easy to get and easy to install. This is because Volkswagen makes the same basic model year after year. Nothing changes on the outside only on the inside. So apart from a 1957 Volkswagen will fit a 1965 Volkswagen and vice versa. But while the ad talks about how to buy parts for a Volkswagen, it ends on a different note. Listen to this. The whole engine on a Volkswagen can be replaced in an hour and 1/2. Of course, As you think about this, you may prefer to get all our new parts at once. We have such a package. If you're like most readers, you get to that last line and you ask yourself, What do they mean? I can get all the new parts at once and that they have such a package, and then you get it. Oh, okay. Okay. I can get all the new parts in one packet. All right. Very clever. You see what I mean? This is a smart way to end your copy. You could end with a question where you can end with an invitation where you can end with a clever thought. But whatever you do, end with a zinger. End your copy in a way that makes your prospect. Think about your product and your brand in a different way. Good copy does that. It makes you think differently. And that's always a good thing. What do you think 32. Secret 30: Write like a pro (a few words on style): What does good copy sound like when you read a sentence or a paragraph of well written copy ? What does it sound like to answer that question? Look at some of the ads written during the 19 sixties and 19 seventies. For a Volkswagen, This ad campaign is considered the most successful ad campaign of all time. Let's look at one of those ads to hear what good copy sounds like. Read the headline. The only water of Volkswagen needs is the water you wash it with. Notice the simple words, with the exception of the name of the manufacturer Volkswagen, three syllables. Each word in the headline contains no more than two syllables and listen to that sing song structure of the headline. The only water of Volkswagen needs is the water you wash it with. The copy speaks to you as an individual. This ad is not written to a mass audience. It does not talk about customers or buyers or Volkswagen owners. It speaks to one person, and that's you. The U in the headline is you the reader of the ad? Now let's read the body copy. All car engines must be cooled, but how conventional cars are cooled by water. The Volkswagen is cooled by air. The advantages are astonishing. When you think about it and notice that tone. It's friendly, warm, informal, and it's also chatty. It's conversational. Listen to that line again. The advantages are astonishing when you think about it, there. Is that you again when you think about it, let's read on. Your Volkswagen cannot boil over in summer or freeze in winter. Since air neither boils nor freezes, you need no antifreeze. You have no radiator problems. In fact, you have no radiator unquote. Now I'm not going to belabor this point. But notice that well written copy makes the customer the hero of the ad. It's your Volkswagen that cannot boil over. It's you that needs no antifreeze. It's you that has no radiator. In mid summer traffic jams, your VW can idol indefinitely, while other cars and tempers boiled. Notice the metaphor. Other cars, cars with radiators boil and tempers boil. The Dowty Volkswagen engine is unique in still other ways. Its location in the rear means better traction in mud, sand, ice and snow. Where other car skid you go, and since it is cast of aluminum magnesium alloy. You save weight and increased frequency. Your VW delivers an honest 32 miles to the gallon regular driving regular gas, and you will probably never need oil between changes. Let me point out a few things that are missing from this copy. There are no semi Coghlan's. There are no adverbs. There are no exclamation marks. Hype is nowhere to be found in the copy. The sentence structure is simple. The paragraphs are short, the sentences are short. The words are short. In short, the copy is easy to look at and easy to read. It sounds like it's been written by a friend. The copy is informative without being boring. It sells you on the car without insulting your intelligence, and it makes its case using simple, straightforward language. Now, if you looked at the bottom right hand corner of the photo, you'll see that this ad was written in 1959. It is written before I was born, and yet it sounds as though it was written yesterday. The copy seems timeless, and it is well written. Copy never goes out of style