the first sentence spoken. In brochures and marketing collateral, it's the first thing they see.
Think about it, what would you be more likely to read, A brochure from a mutual fund company that was titled "Landmark Mutual Funds" or one from the same company that said "Mutual Fund Investment Strategies: Which Ones Actually Work, And Which Ones Are Guaranteed To Drain Your Savings, Jeopardize Your Retirement, And Squash Your Quest For Financial Independence
." Does "Landmark Mutual Funds" contain any Hot Buttons? Does it get you from Alpha To Beta? No, it leaves your eyes glazed over, that's what it does. That brochure title is institutional marketing and is a product of the era of the brand builders. What about a slogan of some sort on the brochure instead; "Building your Future on Solid Ground." You should know by now that that's a major PLATITUDE. stated as if it were original and significant. Who else can say that? Does it pass the x our write in test? But it's the most likely kind of stuff you'll find on just about every brochure ever created in the history of mankind. If your brochure has a similar title, you need to change it. What about the other title for a brochure, the one about Draining, Jeopardizing, and Squashing? Any Hot Buttons there? Does it identify any problems or frustrations, and imply a solution? You bet it does. You can see these brochures for yourself on pages 16 and 17 of the audio companion volume.
I want to point out one more thing about the headlines and the hot buttons. It is imperative that the tone and words used in the headline mirror the intensity of the emotional level of the prospect. So for instance, when we're talking about investing, that's a pretty important topic to the prospects. So I use words in the headline like drain, jeopardize, and squash to mirror the intensity of the feelings that the prospect has about investing. Now, contrast that to how the headline sounds when it uses words that are less emotionally intense. I'll repeat the original headline first, then give you the watered down version. Here's the original: "Mutual Fund Investment Strategies: Which Ones Actually Work, And Which Ones Are Guaranteed To Drain Your Savings, Jeopardize Your Retirement, And Squash Your Quest For Financial Independence." Okay, now here's the less emotionally intense one
"Mutual Fund Investment Strategies: Which Ones Work, And Which Ones Will Reduce Your Savings, Delay Your Retirement, And Hurt Your Financial Goals." What do you think? Notice, I eliminated the word Actually from the phrase Which ones actually work. That word actually was important because it implies that many of them don't. but without saying it directly. Next, I removed the word Guaranteed from the phrase "Which ones are guaranteed to.." And just said "which ones will.." Again, I've reduced the emotional value; I haven't fully tapped a hot button inside them that says "man there are a LOT of crummy investments out there." Then of course I changed the words which started out as Drain, Jeopardize, and Squash. Now I've neutered them clear down to Reduce, Delay, and Hurt. See the difference? This is part of why it's so difficult for you to actually put this together and execute it yourself, and why utilizing the talent of and experienced professional consultant is probably the best way to go for most companies. Think about it: The meaning of the two headlines is exactly the same, but the power, strength, and impact is totally different. It's easy to see and recognize the difference, but writing those headlines so they are actually loaded with power is a whole different ballgame.
I'll give you some more examples and methods for writing good headlines in just a minute. Suffice it to say for now that the headline MUST be loaded with problem-oriented Hot Buttons that will trigger the proper emotional response in the prospect. Those hot buttons must be communicated in a tone and with words that elicit the proper emotional intensity from the prospect. When that happens, the prospect will immediately search for clarifying information. and if that clarifying information is present, he'll become engaged.
There are a few examples taking the prospects' hot buttons and putting them into headlines in the companion volume. On page 15 you can see the advertisement for the Camera Store that we just discussed a few minutes ago. The headline reads "Thinking About Buying A Digital Camera But Don't Have The Foggiest Clue What You Need.. Or Even What's Available?" Did you catch how the headline hits on the hot button of "uncertainty" and speaks the prospect's language?or in other words, hits the right level of emotional intensity?when it uses the phrase "haven't got the foggiest clue." You tell me, how would you feel if you were in the market for a digital camera but didn't know the first thing about them? Would you say that you were "overwhelmed by choices?" Maybe. How about "confused?" Possibly.. But realize, to say, I haven't got the foggiest clue takes the emotional intensity to another level. It makes the headline come alive; it makes the reader get sucked in on an even deeper level. And it's all based on the hot button of "uncertainty."
Now, on the flip side, Let's evaluate another ad that doesn't effectively use a headline based on hot buttons. Take a look at the ad shown in the companion booklet that came with the CD on page 6; It's the same ad we used earlier as an example of an institutional advertisement. It's an ad for a telephone company called Birch that is selling high speed internet access service. The ad has a close-up shot of a frisky looking dog's head holding a computer mouse in it's mouth. It has a headline that says, "One Dot Com Minute." And has some basic copy underneath that says, "Fess Up. Your office needs beefier internet access. So call Birch. We bundle router, line, service in one package, at frisky rates. We include the router, saving you hundreds. And we back it with 7-day a week tech support. Could it be any easier? Call Birch. We'll come running." Now remember this is for a telephone company that is trying to sell high speed, or what it calls quote unquote "beefier" internet service.
So what is the Activator in this ad? Is it the headline, "One Dot Com Minute?" No, it's the dog. Remember from our discussion just a minute ago that an activator is what snaps you out of alpha sleep and into beta alert mode. So you're thumbing through the newspaper. If you're somebody who's interested in dogs?your reticular activator will signal your brain that there's something on the page that's familiar, unusual, or problematic. For most people, it's familiar; or in other words, they like dogs, so their brain says, "Hey, look at the cute doggie over there on that page." Result, if you like dogs, there's a reasonably good chance you will see this picture and it will pull you out of alpha mode and into beta mode, all of which will happens subconsciously, in a split second, without your being aware. Just like somebody calling your name in a crowded airport baggage claim area. It will force you to look at that ad and then your brain starts searching for additional, clarifying information. "What's with the dog?" So you'll read the copy to figure out what's going on, and you'll realize that it's an ad for internet access. Then your brain will begin to short circuit. It'll say, "dog, internet service, dog, internet service, dog, internet service." It will struggle to make the connection of why there's a dog associated with internet service. See, these two things just don't normally go together, so it's a tough connection to make. It's a false beta.
Now here's a couple of distinctions for you. Number one people who don't like dogs aren't going to look at this picture no matter what. Their reticular activator won't flip the switch, so to speak. To them, the dog's not familiar, unusual, or problematic, so it's not an activator. So everyone who needs internet access and is not interested in or familiar with dogs will never be pulled out of alpha into beta to consciously see the ad and even have a chance to sell. Is it possible that people who don't like dogs need internet service? I think it probably is. This is like driving to the corner seven eleven via Branson, Missouri! You might eventually get there, but you sure traveled a long way to advance a short distance.
Well let's see, some people do like dogs, so they'll look at this ad and then they'll see that it's for internet service and certainly some people who like dogs will also need internet service so Birch will have a chance to sell to that subset of people. So here's the question: Why wouldn't you just go ahead and make the activator based on a hot button?something that's important and relevant to them? A hot button for people who need internet service would be all of the problems that they would potentially be having with their current internet service, or lack thereof. If you look in the copy, they talk about bundling the router, line, and service in one package. They talk about the availability of tech support, and they talk about saving hundreds of dollars. So I'm guessing some of the hot buttons would be, let's see?not having the router, line, and service bundled, lack of available tech support, and costs that are way higher than they should be and could be. Now I don't know if these are the actual, legitimate hot buttons or not? But I know on thing for freaking sure: the dog in this ad ain't the prospects' hot button! See, the dog is an activator, but not a hot button. I've taken the liberty to write a new ad based on the hot buttons we culled out of the text of the original ads. Notice how the hot buttons now take the center stage, and how the ad follows the formula of interrupt, engage, educate, and offer. You can look at this ad on page 18 of the companion volume.
Are you catching on to the difference between an activator and a hot button? An activator is anything that interrupts; literally anything at all. A hot button, on the other hand, is an activator that's based on something that's important and/or relevant to the prospect. If you interrupt the prospect with something that's not important, maybe you gain awareness. But remember, awareness is tough to pull off without a hundred million dollars, and awareness isn't equal to cash. Far from it. Plus also realize that you'll get the same awareness you'd normally get using the marketing equation. It's not like by using the marketing equation your marketing and advertising now turns invisible and nobody notices you. The opposite is true. Awareness still goes up, but sales do too. Inevitably.
Marketing is an equation. Just like arithmetic demands that 4 X 3 is 12, the marketing equation demands that the equation interrupt, engage, educate, offer. An ad agency says no, the formula is Creativity and repetition; they say let's put a dog in the ad and use ridiculous little puns in the copy like frisky prices and we'll come running. get it, just like a dog! The ad agency says 4 X 3 is not 12; it's 9. Why? Nine looks cooler. Twelve, what's twelve? Our creative team sat around and decided that they like 9 better. They think that advertising is an art not a science, they are wrong. Hiring an as agency or anyone that doesn't know the marketing equation is like hiring someone that doesn't know math to take a math test for you. It's that serious. It's your money to burn, you can do whatever you want, but don't cry to me about lack of results.