Make A Splash

A name like the Toilet-Seat Light can have Thomas Edison rolling in his grave, but it can't sell a product on its own.
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This story appears in the April 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

A clever product-the Toilet-Seat Light-has young entrepreneur Kevin Mbithe, 19, rushing out to run small-space ads to attract attention. And yet he writes he's had "a very low customer response." I think I know the problem. It's certainly not the product itself-it's a stopper. Apart from its obvious utility, you can't help but get a chuckle out of it. However, Mbithe is relying on the name alone to do the work for his ad.

To a degree, because of its uniqueness, the name gets notice. But does it impel the reader to buy? No, because using the name alone, without spelling out a reason to buy the product in the headline, is risky.

Mbithe also needs to make the offer much stronger. Since most homes, and many apartments, have two toilets, I'd present the deal this way: "Pay just $11.99 for one Toilet-Seat Light and get a second one FREE!" He'll multiply his profit with such a compelling deal. And $11.99 is a better price point because the product has a higher perceived value than $6.99.

For a headline that incorporates the "why" of this product, I couldn't resist going with a rhyme. My proposed headline is: "A Lite at Night to Aim Just Right."

The rest of Mbithe's copy is spot on-like "Spotlights the target so as to prevent messy misses." All he needs is a grabby headline. And, unless I missed, the new one is aimed just right.


The uniqueness of the product carries this ad, but it's too timid to get the attention it deserves.

1. The benefits are all identified, but this ad needs to turn up the volume and sound off about the product.

2. The offer of $6.99 needs to be adjusted. The price seems too low for the perceived value.


This ad uses a megaphone to shout out a clever take on the benefit of the product.

1. A rhyming headline pulls in the prospect with a funny turn on the benefit.

2. The new "buy one, get one free" offer adds a powerful new reason to buy.

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

Edition: July 2017

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