The `WOW' Factor

How do you sell a great gift idea? Enthusiasm!
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the September 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Susan Wilhelm of Reisterstown, Maryland, submitted an ad for her gift basket business, Gift Basket Creations, that started off in an interesting way--with a memo heading--but then got a little spacey. The ad's focus, a series of quotes in the middle of the ad, is meant to illustrate occasions for giving gift baskets. Unfortunately, most of these quotes come off as vague, if not mysterious, mutterings. I understand where Wilhelm was going with this, but she just didn't get there.

So what will sell the handiwork of a talented gift basketeer? My first thought was to imagine how most people react when they receive an artfully arranged, bountifully stuffed basket of goodies. And that reaction is "Wow!" These gastronomic eyefuls look like they were sent from deli heaven, with their cans of pâtés, mini cheese wheels, baby salamis, crackers and splits of wine all nestled in a basket. So why not remind the prospect of that moment in this ad?

My suggested headline is "Make an impression with the `WOW!' gift." This is followed by a subhead that explains, "They'll remember you for your generosity, thoughtfulness . . . and creativity." An obvious requirement for this kind of headline is an illustration or photo of one of those epicurean extravaganzas. Then, with some supporting body copy and a big phone number to call, Wilhelm should have a promotional piece with a better shot at success.


This flier represents a good effort, but the "dazzle me" element just isn't there yet.

1. The memo-like opening creates some interest, but the rest of the flier doesn't hold the prospect's attention.

2. These quotes have the right idea, but they need to be fleshed out for them to make sense.


This effort communicates just how extraordinary a creative gift backet can be. That's the key message.

1. This imperative headline gives prospects the best possible reason to order a gift basket: to elicit an enthusiastic response.

2. This visual shows one of the artful ways a gift basket can garner the ultimate compliment: "Wow!"

Jerry Fisher is an advertising copywriter, consultant and author of Creating Successful Small Business Advertising ($39.95), available by calling (800) 247-6553. If you'd like Jerry to consider your materials for a makeover in this column, send them to "Ad Workshop," Entrepreneur, 2392 Morse Ave., Irvine, CA 92614, or e-mail him at

Contact Source

Gift Basket Creations, (410) 526-7227

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