From the May 2001 issue of Entrepreneur

Since I began this column 11 years ago-and even as I write this month's final installment of "Ad Workshop"-I've had but a single goal: to help you develop the tools you need to create advertising that captivates your prospects. One of those tools is the ability to home in on just how your prospects are feeling at the moment regarding a particular problem you're able to solve. In other words, you need to know how to push potential clients' buttons. Whether it's dealing with the stress of picking the right investments or, as in this month's example, the impending trauma of working through a divorce, let your prospects know you can help them solve the big problems that are on their minds right now.

That's my advice to Linda McMurtray, a certified mental health counselor in Bellevue, Wisconsin. Her current brochure, shown at top right, already has a lot going for it, including a quick, precise headline that grabs the reader's attention. However, I still think McMurtray should take her advertisement up a notch and convey more emotion by addressing the prospect where he or she "lives." Hence my suggested alternative headline: "The Non-Combative Divorce." The new headline addresses one of the most dreaded aspects of marital breakups. The subhead amplifies the feeling with "How to get through it with the least emotional distress and get on with the rest of your life." That should convince the reader to flip the page-which, of course, is the single most important goal of any cover.

Many thanks for visiting "Ad Workshop" over the years, and please look for my new Entrepreneur column, "Brand Aid," which starts next month.

Before

Not a bad approach for an informational piece, but if it took a position, it would be stronger.

This headline is spare and solid, but it would be stronger if it alluded to an emotional issue.

The body copy is well-written and imparts quite a bit in a short space.

After

This headline reaches the prospect on a gut level by stating a desirable outcome.

The subhead fleshes out the promise in the headline.

This cover homes in on an antidote to the typical distress connected to divorce.


Jerry Fisher is a freelance advertising copywriter and author of Creating Successful Small Business Advertising (available at www.atlasbooks.com).