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Heads Up!

For some ads, it's no guts, no glory.

Garey Mann II of Slidell, Louisiana, submitted the ad shown to the right, asking, "How can I improve my advertising layout?" My answer? The layout, per se, is not the problem; it's the message in the layout that needs more oomph.

Mann is promoting Discovery Earthcare, his emporium of natural and recycled products, but his ad doesn't transmit that message in an arresting way. My idea is to find a truly unusual item on his shelves to hoist up to the headline and arouse immediate curiosity and interest. Hence, the unexpected offering you see in the "after" ad headline. It's explained by a subhead that then transitions the reader into the rest of the ad.

Some may blanch at the reference to "dung" in the headline. But it accomplishes what most headlines fail to do: It offers a lapel-yanking element of surprise. This often makes the difference between successful ads and failures. Mann might even consider putting a blowup of the ad in his mall-shop window to attract passersby.

What should you take away from this example? Create the unexpected--even if makes you a little nervous. Remember the words of the famous advertising guru, Jay Chiat: "If your palms don't sweat a little, you haven't produced breakthrough advertising."

Before:

Resist the temptation to use your store name as the headline. Zzzzzz.

1. A headline that includes a benefit would be better than this flat explanation.

2. The bullets work well here, making it a quick read for prospects.







After:

This new headline hits the reader between the eyes.

1. Always think: "What will surprise them?"

2. Use a subhead to explain and then transition readers into the rest of the ad.






Jerry Fisher is an advertising copywriter, consultant and author of Creating Successful Small Business Advertising ($39.95), available by calling (800) 247-6553. To submit your materials for a makeover in this column, send them to "Ad Workshop," Entrepreneur, 2392 Morse Ave., Irvine, CA 92614, or e-mail Jerry at Jerry228@aol.com

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This article was originally published in the June 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Heads Up!.

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