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Art Of Comparison

Using the before-and-after approach to grab readers' attention.

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This story appears in the October 1997 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Eight years ago, I wrote to Entrepreneur's editor in chief, Rieva Lesonsky, proposing to write a "before and after" column on advertising. I told her I envisioned readers submitting materials they were using to promote their businesses (the "before" version) and that I would do a makeover version in the column to suggest ways to improve on it. Rieva liked the idea, and "Advertising Workshop" was born.

The before-and-after concept, also known as compare/contrast, may be unique for a column on advertising, but it has a long and successful history within the field of advertising itself. Diet programs have used it most effectively in showing the contrast between the way a person looks before and after they've been on the program. Cosmetic surgeons do the same with photos of their patients. Mutual funds show charts comparing their results against the various indices, such as the Standard & Poor's 500.

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