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An ad that specifically offers further sales help or an information package, sample or other giveaway is called a two-step ad.

Step One is using your display advertisement to compel prospects to contact you for more information.

Step Two is converting the prospect into a paying customer through: Mailing a printed literature package, making a sales call to prospects who identify themselves to you, following up with future telemarketing or email offers, or making an in-store sales pitch when prospects visit your store.

Often times, smart marketers will use a variety of sales devices in the follow-up package: Audio CDs of interviews, DVD brochures, PDF files of a colorful brochure that can be immediately emailed to prospects (instead of a printed package that must be mailed through the Post Office), printed reports, and so on.

Successful two-step ads are most often written in “direct-response style.” You’ve probably seen these style of ads — full-page, half-page and fractional-page ads that look like articles with a headline and column after column of text.

Smart two-step advertisers use this type of display ad because direct-response advertising has long been known to generate greater response and more revenue than highly designed, graphically pleasing, more “attractive” ad agency-style advertisements.

Done right, display advertising is also one of the most cost-effective vehicles for getting information out about your products and services to thousands of people. Plus, depending on how your products and services are priced, the return-on-investment (ROI) can be substantial.

The best place to advertise if you’re selling products or services that cater directly to small businesses or large corporations is in trade publications.

Unlike huge consumer publications such as Newsweek or the Los Angeles Times, “trade pub” readers are more likely to want what you have to offer.

Plus, you end up paying only to reach people who are perfect prospects to buy what you’re selling. By contrast, Newsweek goes to millions of readers who will likely never buy your business-related product.

What if you don’t sell to businesses?

Even products and services that appeal to consumers can be far more easily (and economically) advertised in non-mainstream publications. Determine first who your consumer prospects truly are, then look for publications they likely read.

Are they sports fans? Arts patrons? Wine connoisseurs? Gardeners? Boating hobbyists or bass fisherman? World travelers? Executive women? Teenagers? Start compiling a list of likely publications—either local or nationally distributed—where you might advertise.

Write your ad as if you were selling the actual product or service. Craft a compelling headline that gets prospects to read the entire ad. Talk about how your product or service is a solution to the reader’s pain — or alternatively, how it will help them accomplish a goal or pursue a specific ambition.

Fill your ad with the benefits of your product or service (not just the features) and, of course, the benefits of doing business with you or choosing your product over the hundreds or thousands of other option they might choose.

Perhaps the most singular feature of these direct-response style advertisements is their focus on the reader—rather than on a list of reasons why your business is so wonderful.

What will your product do for the reader? How will it help them? What will their lifestyle, relationships, business, personal finances, career, free time, health, abilities, skills or other personal attributes look like once they are using your product or service? What has it done for other people? What is the superior customer benefit of doing business with you versus the competition—once the prospect has decided to buy this particular product or service? What are the further benefits of doing business with you? These are all benefits that you should be writing about in your advertising copy.

Be sure to include a copywriting element called a “Call to Action” or CTA. Detail exactly what the reader should do to respond and get the information package (Step Two of the two-step campaign) — whether it’s opting-in at your website or calling your office by phone.

In my next blog post, I’ll tell you what to do with the potentially thousands of prospective new customers who respond to your two-step ad.

Finally, feel free comment on what you’ve read so far. Are you beginning to think differently about generating new customers — and ultimately cash — for your business?

Tell me by leaving a reply below.

Until next time,

Janet Switzer

Continue to Part 3…
Converting Two-Step Responders Into Cash-Paying Customers

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