Q: I operate a swimming pool maintenance business and I'm looking for ways to improve my ad to get people to see the advantage of using my services over caring for their pools themselves. Any ideas?
A: You've got the classic kind of business for which a compare-and-contrast approach to advertising can work. Split your ad down the middle, and on the left side, create a column titled "Do-it-yourself pool maintenance." Under that heading, make a list of all the bothersome chores needed to keep a pool looking and operating in tip-top shape, like clearing out the trap on the "Kreepy-Krawly" that sweeps the bottom of the pool, cleaning filters, adjusting the chlorine and ph levels, and so on.
Then, on the right-hand side of the ad, under the heading "Pool maintenance by Neptune," put only one item: "Complete pool maintenance each week for an average of just $2 a day." As I've discussed before, when you can contrast how much easier, faster, cheaper and better your method of service can be over the alternatives, showing a side-by-side comparison can be a powerful, dramatic and, most important, motivating approach to advertising, whether in a print ad or a brochure.
Virtually any service business can benefit from this approach, whether you're a landscaper, a party planner, a gift basket creator, a dog walker, even a restaurateur. Imagine running an ad with the headline "How to Enjoy Veal Picata Tonight." Then, on one side of the ad, you give the detailed recipe, making sure to mention the cleanup afterwards. On the other side, simply say "Visit Antonio's Trattoria, famous for our wonderful veal dishes and other Italian specialties. And we do the dishes afterwards." There is no other advertising format in the world that so consistently lures the reader as does compare-and-contrast.