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Once Upon A Time

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This story appears in the March 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If you're a small-space advertiser, it's a given that you must try harder to get your ad noticed amid all the leviathans around it. But hoisting your company name to the roof of your little ad is not trying harder. Nor is putting a "Sale" sign up there, the most ubiquitous approach in advertising. A totally unexpected alternative is to tell a first-person story in that space. And, yes, even in such a cracker-sized square of ad area, an anecdotal experience will fit--and get read.

That's my suggestion to Carol Steele, an interior designer in Shingletown, California, whose current ad you see here. My suggested makeover has a headline that says, "How I Became a Decorating Genius*" (with byline) and an asterisk drawing the eye down to a footline that says, "*I had a secret mentor." The rest of the ad is a personal account of how empowering it was for one client to work with Steele. More than a traditional testimonial, this is a more expansive approach in story form.

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