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Scare With Flair

Using fear to flag down prospects.

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

Barbara Corsa, who runs H.I.S. Home Inspections in Akron, ,was dumbfounded last year when the leader of a seminar she attendedon brochure-making declared he "wouldn't changeanything" about her current effort. Corsa knew something wasamiss. Either this guy was working for a rival home inspector, orhe'd had too many pre-seminar cocktails, because her brochurewas doing zilch, and she needed help. Hence her letter to "AdWorkshop."

To be fair, the body of Corsa's piece is well-written.Except for the lack of testimonials (always a critical component),it's informative and convincing. But the cover--the"storefront" of every brochure--does little to attractpassersby. As a result, the response has been flat, and, Corsawrites, "When our brochure's not working, we're notworking." My first thought was that the cover should employone of the most responsive levers of human there is:--fear of being an unsuspecting home buyer who moves into acosmetically appealing house only to find major problems lurkingbeneath the surface. So my cover headline recommendation, with alittle flair thrown in, is: "Will your new home be apeach or a lemon?" What follows is a subheadrecommending, "Avoid any risks by having H.I.S. HomeInspections check it out before you buy." What should youlearn from this example? Next time you're about to plunk downgood money on a sales brochure that has little more than yourcompany name on the cover, consider whether it'll bear anyfruit.

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