THE LEVISON LETTER
Action Ideas For Better Direct Mail,
E-mail, Web Sites & Advertising
Ivan Levison, Direct Response Copywriting
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
The ad features a large color photo of the bed and a
bold, two-word headline:
The ad goes on to explain that "The miracle is
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
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
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
Thus, if I had to substitute a two word headline, for
two words, "Inner strength," I would suggest the obvious:
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
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!
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