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Chart Smart

Charts may make good copy, but does your ad tempt prospects to read them?

Have you got a clear price advantage over your competitors for the exact same service or better? If so-and if you can carve out some extra room to work with in your sales letter, ad, brochure or Web site-you can't beat an old-fashioned comparison chart to illustrate that point effectively.

That approach is not lost on Ann Kelsey, who runs Medical Collections Unlimited in Atlanta. Her sales letter features a comparison chart that makes the salient point (that is, she's cheaper than most collection agencies), but the letter needs to better provoke prospects to read the chart.

To that end, I recommend a headline asking "Doctor, are you getting robbed TWICE on delinquent accounts?" The message being that not only is the patient "stiffing" the doctor, but the collection agency is also charging too much to collect the bad debt. The doctor is likely to wince at those words and feel compelled to read on-and quickly notice the chart.

In the made-over version of the sales letter, the chart sports a final figure that's in larger, bolder type-the better to draw a physician's attention. And in the first sentence following the chart, I've indicated and boldfaced the net difference-$435 to be exact-that the doctor would realize.

Fact is, most prospects want to be comparison shoppers, but it's usually a hassle. That's why a simple scorecard-type chart really attracts them, providing the ability to make an instant informed decision that your business is the better choice.

Before

This letter has the right idea in using a chart, but it's plain vanilla that needs some chocolate chips.

This page begs for a headline to hook the recipient and lead him or her to the chart.

Using a chart is almost always helpful, but this one needs improvement to take full advantage of the tactic.

After

The new headline riles recipients, provoking them to read the letter.

The chart now sports simpler and more explanatory elements, making it stronger.

This letter grabs doctors by their stethoscopes and draws them into both the letter and the chart.


Jerry Fisher is a freelance advertising copywriter in the San Francisco Bay area and author of Creating Successful Small Business Advertising (available through Bookmasters, 800-247-6553). You can write to him in care of Entrepreneur or e-mail him at jerry228@aol.com.

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This article was originally published in the March 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Chart Smart.

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