The #1 Secret to a Great Ad

Find your customers’ pain point to highlight the classic problem and solution.
November 6, 2014

Your commercial, as much as it needs to capture the audience’s attention by being entertaining, interesting, informative and relevant, is a sales presentation. Instead of being made in person, it’s made to lots of individual psyches simultaneously, with the hope that each is participating while watching or listening. Your sales result is achieved when audience members respond by calling, visiting, going to a website, mailing, faxing, asking for more information, voting, donating or going to a free lecture. 

So how do you motivate them? I work with all sizes and kinds of businesses all over the world to make this magic happen, and it’s my experience that the fear of loss is a greater motivator than the prospect of gain.

Everyone has some pain in his or her life. You have designed your business to reduce that pain and be paid for it. The first step in the process is to remind your audience what that pain is. Describe it, amplify it, and show how it impedes the pursuit of happiness. Then get the audience to imagine how your product or service will alleviate the pain.

Your audience members, like all of us, have evolved to react when we feel threatened. Finding their pain will motivate them to action. Robert F. Potter of Indiana University and Paul Bolls of the University of Missouri showed this in a study they did on radio commercial effectiveness. Negative emotions portrayed in commercials have the power to enhance message memorability and listener response. Perhaps it’s our modified fight-or-flight reaction. (Interestingly, positive emotions did not have the same power to move people to action.)

So the classic problem/solution commercial is a potent selling tool. Just make sure you delve into the pain sufficiently before you offer a solution.

Limited-time offers of price or opportunity, loss of health, money, happiness or penalties for not acting by a deadline are all powerful calls to action.

Find the pain, demonstrate the loss for not acting, and offer relief to your audience. It’s the best thing you can do for results.

Copyright 2014 Hedquist Productions, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Great ads find the pain, but pushing boundaries with humor can also get your business attention—if you do it right. Find out how to crack wise for edgy advertising.

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