Kathy Eldridge, founder of Spar-Clean Services LLC, a carpet-cleaning business in Muskego, Wisconsin, expressed her frustration over the ad she'd been running in local publications and directories. Her biggest worry is that the ad lacks a clear focus. Well, she's right. It's a rumpus room of an ad, a bit too helter-skelter to invite the eye. So, here are some suggestions to make her ad leaner, meaner and more focused:
First, let's hoist one of the strongest elements, the warning message, to the top. Humankind's two most powerful motivators are fear and greed, so here's a case where we need to push the fear button. My recommended headline is, "Avoid These...6 Carpet Cleaning No-No's!" The subhead provides potential customers with a number to call for a taped message of those errors. Remember to stay away from headlines like the one in Eldridge's current effort. A "we" message is basically self-congratulatory and chest-pounding. The prospect wants a "you" message, direct or inferred, because it relates to them, not you.
Eldridge also needs to siphon out the third-party logos in the ad and collapse some of the copy to reduce overcrowding and sharpen the focus on a single message. I'd keep the creepy dust mite, though. The temptation is great to cram every possible benefit into a small ad. But providing some breathing room allows the important elements to stand out and have much more impact on the browsing reader.
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). If you'd like Jerry to consider your materials for a makeover in this column, write to him c/o Entrepreneur or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Spar-Clean Services LLC, (888)679-9691, fax: (262)679-3320