Ivan Levison — Copywriter
Direct Mail, E-mail and Advertising Copywriting


Action Ideas For Better Direct Mail,
E-mail, Web Sites & Advertising

Published by
Ivan Levison, Direct Response Copywriting

September, 2005
Volume: 20 Number: 9

How to evaluate an ad - A quick case history -
Be sure to add benefits when you're copywriting an ad


I came across an attractive full page ad recently for
Tempur-Pedic beds.

The ad features a large color photo of the bed and a big,
bold, two-word headline:

Inner strength

The ad goes on to explain that "The miracle is on the
inside" and that "Our bed utilizes natural principles of
physics. Nothing mechanical or electrical. No motors,
switches, valves, air pumps, or water heaters. It can't
break, leak, short-circuit, or stop working" and so

So, how do we judge this ad? Aside from checking response
rates, post facto, and seeing how it performed, how do we
decide if this ad, or ANY ad, is going to be a winner?

Here's how I make this judgement . . .

First, I look at what the ad is attempting to accomplish.
I try to understand the marketing thinking behind the ad.

In the case of the Tempur-Pedic ad we have an example of
a purely "educative sell." In other words the folks at
Tempur-Pedic are betting that the prospect is interested
in mattress technology so they devote virtually the
entire ad to explaining how the product works. Here's a
typical passage: "Inside our bed, billions of microscopic
memory cells work in perfect harmony to contour precisely
to your every curve."

The ad is fabulous when it comes to explaining why the
mattress is unique and how it is constructed. However the
ad is just awful when it comes to providing the reader

This seems to me a serious mistake. You see, in my view
the first job of any ad is to solve the reader's problem.
To state a benefit. In the case of the Tempur-Pedic ad,
benefits are almost totally absent. Supportive, educative
information that should be secondary has become the
entire ad.

What benefits should have been highlighted?

Well, this isn't rocket science. The copywriter should
have said that with the Tempur-Pedic bed, you sleep
better than ever before and wake up every day feeling
rested, energetic, and raring to go. What's important is
the promise of a good night's sleep. NOT a lesson in
mattress making.

Thus, if I had to substitute a two word headline, for the
two words, "Inner strength," I would suggest the obvious:
"Sleep better."

Of course, no one said we're restricted to two words!
Just for fun, here are some headlines I just cranked out
that I think work MUCH better than the headline that ran.
Compare each of these to the headline "Inner strength."

How this miracle bed from Sweden can help you get a
great night's sleep.

How to get a great night's sleep, every single night.

Sleep tight every night on the Tempur-Pedic

Sweet dreams start on a Tempur-Pedic mattress.

Next time YOU have to write or evaluate some copy for an
ad, direct mail piece, whatever, don't start writing
headlines right away. First, think about the problem your
reader has, and how your product or service can solve it.
Then start writing benefit-oriented lines that are clear,
not clever. Believe me, you won't be far off!

How To Get In Touch

Ivan Levison
Direct Response Copywriting
14 Los Cerros Drive
Greenbrae, CA 94904

Phone: (415) 461-0672
Fax: (415) 461-7738
E-mail: ivan@levison.com
Web Site: http://www.levison.com

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