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Just Teasing

Refusing to give your prospects the whole story at once is a surefire way to pique their curiosity.

I'm a pushover for an ad like the one shown here. Maybe you are, too. It teases with the promise of revealing intriguing information-a technique that the tabloids have made into an art form. So OK, I'll bite. In response to the headline "What your scale isn't telling you," what's mine missing?

The folks at the U.S. branch of Tokyo-based Tanita Corp. in Arlington Heights, Illinois, have the answer in a hybrid bathroom scale/body-fat monitor. Their ad for this unit, created by LoSasso Advertising Inc. in Chicago, gets an A+ for two reasons: One, it makes you read further into the rest of the ad for the answer (a big accomplishment for any ad), and two, it triggers the instantaneous impression that your current bathroom scale is not good enough.

With the first two lines of body copy, you're almost ready to relegate your current scale to doorstop status. The lines read: "If you're still using an ordinary [model], you're missing vital information that weight alone can't tell you. Tanita monitors your weight [and body-fat percentage] for a more meaningful assessment of your health and fitness."

The ad does an excellent job of detailing the need to know one's body-fat percentage along with gross weight, thus the need to own such a crossbreed. I also like the chart in the bottom left corner that displays the "Healthy Body Fat Range" for various people. It makes me all the more curious about what range I'll fall into when I step on my own Tanita. And finally, I love the golden medallion shown on top of the unit that self-anoints Tanita "The Body Fat Experts." It's almost as sanctifying as the Good Housekeeping seal, which the ad also sports.

Let's think of variations on this approach for other businesses. Suppose you market new accounting software that's superior to established brands. You might warn "What other accounting software companies are afraid to tell you." Or let's say you operate a small drug company. You could run an ad that declares "What big drug companies wouldn't dare admit." Or if you own a pest control company, you might create an ad that asks "Do those summer mosquitoes have you thinking the 'V'-word?" (That's "virus," as in West Nile.) You get the idea. Tease . . . then reveal.


Jerry Fisher is a freelance advertising copywriter and the author of Creating Successful Small Business Advertising.

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This article was originally published in the September 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Just Teasing.

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