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But aren’t their methods outdated?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!

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