Anatomy of an Ad: Using Eugene Schwartz Techniques to Compete in a Crowded Marketplace

The good news: When it comes to building a home business, the barrier to entry is lower than ever.

The bad news: With a crowded marketplace, it’s hard to get your voice heard.

So how do you, the entrepreneur, break through the clutter and convince your prospects to:

1) listen to your message and
2) trust that your product/service is as life-altering as you claim it is?

You learn from the masters–for starters, Eugene Schwartz, author of Breakthrough Advertising.

But aren’t their methods outdated? Too “sales-y” for today’s sophisticated audience?

Not in the least. From the masters you learn the foundations–creating intrigue, supporting your claims with facts, and holding your prospect captive with compelling copy.

Hand-copying ads is often touted as a technique for grasping the fundamentals of marketing.

Taking this one step farther, analyzing what the author is doing and why it works will enable us to learn a repeatable structure until the act of copywriting becomes second nature.

In this anatomy series, I’ll be breaking down what works in a promotion, starting with this one from Schwartz:

 

First, the headline works because it gives us precise instructions.  It also presents us with a one-two punch, delivering the problem (wrinkles) and the solution all at once.

The word “stroke” is carefully chosen to indicate the solution’s simplicity and gentleness (notice he didn’t say “pull” or “yank”). Additionally, “stroke” is a sensual term and we all know sex sells.

The accompanying graphic gives further evidence of its ease.

Next, he immediately offers expert testimonials to win over the skeptics. With any sort of “natural remedy,” our first question is always, “Does it work?” The “noted physicians” assure us it does.

The “About Jessica Krane” insert further cements our trust, showing us why we should invest in this woman’s product and offering social proof of her authority (she appeared on the Johnny Carson Show).

Schwartz then solidifies our trust with a brief “discovery narrative” for this wrinkle-removing method. It also piques our curiosity, teasing us just enough to buy the book so we can get the whole story.

The intimate, conversational tone gets inside the head of even the most skeptical prospects, anticipating potential objections so shrewdly, it’s almost as if he’s reading their mind.

He instructs the prospect, “When the book arrives, turn immediately to page 123 and read two pages–nothing more. Here you will learn how a pair of wrinkled white leather gloves lead to one of the most amazing discoveries ever made about the skin of the human face.”

At this point, those on the fence will think, “Okay, I just have to read two pages to figure out if the book is worth keeping or I can get my money back.” This shows that he empathizes with the reader’s concerns–if the product doesn’t work, not only are they wasting their money, they’re also wasting their time.

Of course, he’s betting they’ll love the product so much (or are too lazy to go to the post office) that 99% of them will never return the book.

He guides us through experience of receiving the book step by step, first satiating our curiosity about this miracle wrinkle cure and then discovering additional benefits as we “begin to explore the book more deeply.” This way, we form a vivid impression of the role the book will play in our lives.

The simplicity of his instructions assures us that this is a book we will actually benefit from and can put to practical use, that it won’t just gather dust on a shelf.

Schwartz offers more evidence of this product’s reliability by describing how its inventor tested her techniques to great success on “hundreds of private students.” This further quiets the reader’s inner voice of skepticism while also lending an air of exclusivity to the product–readers will have access to secrets which were once only accessible to those who attended these private sessions.

It is only after evoking our curiosity that Schwartz makes a persuasive case for why we need this product–even if getting rid of wrinkles had never occurred to us. He writes, “Nothing makes a previously-beautiful face more ugly than the deep furrows that begin to engrave themselves between nose and mouth.”

This line alarms us while simultaneously offering a token of hope. These wrinkles are obscuring our true beauty, but all we have to do is remove them to recover our beauty!

Finally, the call-to-action expertly bypasses the reader’s objections. Instead of just a simple “yes” or “no,” he writes, “Is it worth a half hour of my time, and no risk, to try this new method on my face tomorrow?” Who could say no to that?

To summarize, these are the elements of Schwartz’s ad contributing to its success:

  1. Intrigue
  2. Expert proof
  3. Addressing the prospect’s potential objections
  4. Painting a clear picture of the product
  5. Making the reader an active participant in the ad
  6. Stimulating a need and offering the product as a solution
  7. Giving the skeptic an immediate chance to test out the product
  8. An offer you can’t say no to

Pick your favorite product–ideally something not super well-known–and try these methods today!

Afraid of pain? Here’s how to slap it in the face

Don’t we all dread a trip to the doctor? Getting poked and prodded and pressed and by lord knows what? Those are maintenance pains and we avoid them by staying healthy.

I, however, took pain avoidance to a whole new level.

Once, my dad’s friend told me how, during a softball game, a mis-thrown ball whacked his head and ruptured his eardrum. After that, I took caution at Little League practice, running the bases with my head ducked and hands covering my ears for extra protection.

More recently, while descending steep hiking trails, I’d scoot on my booty inch by inch, rather than risking a face plant (annoying my boyfriend to no end).

I decided I needed to get over this and joined a women’s kickboxing class. It’s been awesome—but because we’re hitting punching bags and not each other, it has done little to help me get over the pain hurdle.

Then I attended a class called Witch Kung Fu, hosted by Maja D’Aoust, a well known occult lecturer known as the White Witch of LA. The flyer mentioned, “You will get slapped,” and this triggered slight anxiety. No one likes to be slapped!!

Turns out, the slapping was invigorating, even, dare I say, fun!

Using Qigong techniques, the class teaches women how to take hits and prep themselves for uncomfortable physical contact.

A Qigong routine begins with a series of self-inflicted slaps, beginning on the crown of the head and working down your body. Used in Chinese medicine, it has many benefits such as increased circulation and clearing out negative mental energy. If you’re feeling lethargic, it’s also a great pick-me-up!

Here’s what I learned:

1) Pain is inevitable–instead of trying to avoid it, get prepared

At least with the doctor we get a warning before he sticks in the needle, but real life not so much. Pain can strike out of nowhere.

Playing a game of cat and mouse with pain, then, is an exercise in futility. Conversely, if you train your body to take the pain, you’re better equipped to handle it.

Qigong works to prepare your body for contact, toughening your skin so that slaps and punches lack the sting they normally would.

2) In a relaxed state, pain is easier to endure

Has the doctor ever told you, “Just relax?” Easier said than done, right?

Truth is, relaxing eases the tension in your body, which in turn reduces pain. It also relieves anxiety, leading to a calmer mental state. Rather than viewing the impending pain as a big, scary cloud ballooning on the horizon, you can take it like a whispering wind in stride.

Qigong uses breathing techniques to prep yourself, timing your exhales so you can take a blow to the gut or a punch in the back with more stoicism that you would under ordinary circumstances.

3) Pain management is a masterable skill just like anything else

After getting slapped in the face, my immediate reaction was, wow, that wasn’t so bad. And the more frequently you get slapped, the less it stings.

That’s why practicing Qigong every day will build up your tolerance to pain, physical or otherwise.

A rejection or an outburst of anger from another can feel like a slap in the face. And just like a slap, it can leave a mark.

The mark, however, is not a permanent one. In time it fades, and life goes on.

What about serious injury or trauma, though? Life-altering events that require hospitalization or cause lasting emotional distress?

There’s no easy answer, but the more we toughen our internal and external leather, so to speak, the easier it will be to endure the arrows life slings at us.

What I learned that day is that while we can’t always control what happens to us, we can control our response. Pain can hurt on the outside and the inside, but it can’t penetrate the deepest parts of us, those parts that define who we are.

What are some pain-avoidance tactics you have used? What steps will you take to confront the pain?