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The new old media that can bring you more sales

What's in Kim's Mailbox? Newspaper advertorial ads are about as "old school" as they come. Yet for years some of the most savvy direct marketers have been using them successfully to sell products like supplements and skin creams. Each weekend when my Sunday paper arrives, I always make a point to look at Parade magazine and see what ads they've got targeting the older market. A few Sundays ago I came across from one from one major supplement marketer, Dr. Al Sears. They're one of many companies that are having success using newspaper advertorial to promote supplements, in addition to their direct mail and online efforts. Nearly 5 years ago, I got "schooled" by the brilliant copywriter and marketer Caleb O'Dowd on his best-kept secrets to writing successful newspaper ads for supplements. Many of his "rules" that he shared with me are almost counterintuitive...and go against much of what we've been taught when it comes to writing supplement sales pages and magalogs. It's why, as Caleb explained to me, so many top direct response copywriters have a hard time writing successful newspaper advertorial. The ad from Dr. Sears I'm about share with you actually breaks some of Caleb's rules. But it's also very different from the kind of sales page or direct mail copy that would be successful for this supplement. Part of it is due to the product...but it also could be that the market continues to mature and supplements become more mainstream. This is good news for supplement marketers as the newspaper print ad channel can provide a cost-effective way to acquire new customers that may not be reached online. So let's take a look at this newspaper advertorial for Dr. Sears "Ultra Accell II' product...

One of Caleb's rules is that you can NOT instantly convey that you're an ad. You cannot scream "sales pitch" in the headline or how the ad looks visually, or you're done. This ad isn't following this particular rule of Caleb's. It looks very much like a newspaper article (aside from "ADVERTISEMENT" appearing at the top, which was likely required by the magazine). It appears to convey value by offering something in exchange for reading. In this case, it's opening up a loop (what is this "failure" that leaves CoQ10 wanting?) and then teasing about something that offers a brain-boosting benefit. But here's where the ad is breaking one of Caleb's rules. One of his rules is to NOT reveal early on that your ad is about a supplement. If anything, you need to sound like you're announcing the release of a new drug (later on it will become clear that it's a supplement). However, this particular ad is relying on the fact that CoQ10 is a widely-used supplement. So it's calling out people who may be taking this supplement and bringing up a possible problem (that the about-to-be-revealed product solves). There is also some tease early on in the copy as well as in the caption underneath the photo (perfectly positioned in the upper right-hand corner of the ad, which is where the eye almost always ends up after initially scanning the ad). This copy refers to a "NASA-discovered nutrient", which gives it instant credibility. It's crucial, especially in newspaper advertorial, to immediately provide proof in a way that's as boiled-down as possible. In the fourth paragraph of copy, this is also accomplished by incorporating the phrase "little-known NASA nutrient" into a quote from Dr. Sears. The copy that follows sets Dr. Sears up as an anti-aging expert. The one quibble I have with that copy is I would have referred to him as the "founder", not the "owner", as the latter sounds more commercialized. As you read through the ad, you can see how the copy is written like a newspaper story, complete with quotes throughout. There are references to celebrities like Dr. Oz and Suzanne Somers, as well as medical journal findings, to provide more proof and credibility. Because there's typically only room for up to 1,000 words max in one of these ads, it's crucial to make sure that every word earns its space. Even in a sales page or direct mail promo that's 6 to 10 times as long, that's important. The trick here is to tell the full story behind the product and compel someone to take immediate action when you've got a fraction of the amount of copy to work with. That means you're packing your story and sales argument into tightly-written copy. Kind of like actual, real-life newspaper copy. In fact, the best way to structure your ad is to answer the following 7 questions in order...at the exact point that they're coming into your prospect's mind. If you answer a question in the WRONG order, when it's not at the point the prospect is thinking it, then your advertorial starts to feel like an ad, and doesn't feel natural. 7 Questions to Answer for Newspaper Advertorial Success: Question #1: "Are you a person of interest to me?" (call out the right prospect--i.e., "heart patients", or in this case, CoQ10 users) Question #2: "Is this exactly the solution to my specific problem?" Question #3: "What's new and different about this that I haven't seen and heard before? (Because I've seen a lot of things that say the same thing...)" Question #4: "Sounds interesting...show me proof it will do what you say it will do" Question #5: "This sounds fantastic...how does it work?" Question #6: "What are others saying about it?" (i.e., testimonials, expert quotes) Question #7: "How do I order?" Highly-effective, sales-multiplying kicker to question #7: add in urgency and scarcity...like this Dr. Sears ad is doing. The call to action is to call the "Sears Health Hotline" within the next 48 hours. There's also a mention before that about how it's been hard to keep in stock...and a later mention of time needed to restock once they sell out and stop taking orders after 48 hours. Answering these questions in this recommended order can help you succinctly and convincingly tell the story behind your product and close the sale...even if you have less than 1,000 words in order to do so. If you write newspaper advertorial and want to improve your results, or you're interested in giving it a try, I recommend you collect and study newspaper advertorial ads and see how they follow--or break--these rules. Be sure to see how the ads are structured, too. Most I've seen follow this order of questions. So if you do the same when writing your copy, you'll be less likely to veer off into tangents that lose the sale...and much more likely to write a winner.

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