“Why didn’t my ad work?” said a rather frustrated client recently who sent me her copy after she ran an ad that flopped.

It’s a not uncommon occurrence. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that business owners want to take control of their marketing and go it alone. But it’s also full of pitfalls and traps for young players.

The client went on to say, “But I followed all the right theories, I just don’t understand why it didn’t work!”

One issue, copy aside, is this… it’s getting harder and harder to get “them” over the line.


Even more telling is that marketing is not an exact science.

Why one ad or campaign doesn’t work the way you thought it would can get back to any one or combination of the headline – or timing – or the offer – or boring copy – or the graphics… the list goes on.

I don’t want to digress too much but the savvy operator will grasp the reality marketing is NOT an exact science and rarely if ever does “ONE THING” alone need to be changed.

So beware of the magic pill. It’s usually not “one thing”.

With that said, let me get back on track because I want to go into detail about a complex dynamic which WILL improve your conversions.

Let me explain…

If you’ve studied any marketing or copywriting theory you would be aware of the need to target the human emotions.

We are emotional creatures who buy on emotion and justify with logic.

In this article I’m going to show you how targeting ONE emotion can help turn your sales around.

Here’s what I mean…

The main human emotions are… FEAR, GUILT, GREED, PRIDE and LOVE.

If you target one of these and turn it from a negative to a positive, you can relatively easily turn your sales around.

For most buyers the #1 fear when purchasing anything from small items to major plant and equipment upgrades is caused by LACK OF TRUST. They (yes you and me) fear being ripped off. So we have to work extra hard to build trust.

It’s never easy to take a negative (in this case fear) and turn it into a positive (this case trust). And in today’s market you have to work extra hard at it.

This will help…

The great Victor Schwab in his excellent book How to Write a Good Advertisement (published in 1962 mind you) states that…

“Emotion and reason work together to make the sale… which is why it is so necessary to work plenty of “prove it” facts into your advertisements.”

Schwab says you must…

1. CONSTRUCTION EVIDENCE – facts about the materials, workmanship, design, staff, patents, speed of delivery and so on
2. PERFORMANCE EVIDENCE – achievements of the product, well known users, demonstration reasons
3. TESTIMONY OF OTHERS – performance evidence from typical users, expert evidence, awards won, trust statements
4. TEST EVIDENCE – your guarantee which shows confidence and quality

Go back and have a look at your last ad – do you have these four trust builders?

Let’s take it one step further.

Arguably the highest paid copywriter on the planet, Dan Kennedy, argues you must walk your prospect through what he calls “GATES OF COMMITMENT”.

Each gate you can take your prospect through takes you one step closer to the sale.

What buyers look for is a series of “affirming” emotions. In Dan’s words they want… AUTHENTICITY, BELIEVABILITY, CREDIBILITY, SAFETY and VALUE.

Can you provide these emotional “cuddles” in your copy?

You need to because the prospect will ask themselves…

Is she for real? (authenticity)
Is she telling the truth? (believability)
Is she knowledgeable and competent? (credibility)
Is she reliable? (safety)
Am I paying a fair and reasonable price? (value)

Again, go back to your copy and have a look. If you can’t tick every one of these off with a “YES” chances are you’re missing sales.

Just one example…

Have you demonstrated your value enough? You see when all of us buy we do a little mental calculation which goes something like, For the money I’m about to part with, am I getting a good return and do I feel good about it because I am?

If we answer “YES” we likely buy.

One very effective way to prove your vale proposition is with a summary table which outlines what they get, the value of each item, what they will pay and how much they save… the value is laid out for them.

So go back over your copy and make sure, as Mr Schwab recommends you have ticked off the 4 types of evidence… AND… as Mr Kennedy suggests you’ve walked them through the gates of commitment.

My client? Well she had 2 of Schwab’s 4 pieces of “evidence” and only 1 of Kennedy’s “gates” covered. Little wonder it didn’t work very well.

To your success,
Steve Plummer