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No place on Earth contains greater wisdom on the art and science of persuasion...or insight into what your prospects are buying now...or more ideas you can shamelessly filch for your next marketing promotion...than your local bookstore.
This year, Americans will spend considerably more than $30 BILLION on books and magazines.
With those high dollars at stake, youd expect the competition to be ferocious.
Youd be right.
Take a look around the bookstore. How many book and magazine titles do you figure you see? 10,000? 20,000?
Guess again, you are in the presence of nearly 200,000 titles! Imagine being the marketing professional whose product is one of 200,000 competing for your prospects attention
AND being limited in your quest for A-I-D-A (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) to a single thought that will fit on a book jacket or worse on its spine!
Or imagine your product being one of hundreds of periodicals displayed on the magazine rack and because the covers overlap; only the top third of your cover is visible! And whats worse, you have to come up with a different way to capture max eyeballs twelve times a year!
Billions In Marketing Research
Because of the huge amount of money at stake, every one of the publishers represented on these shelves pays a kings ransom for market research each year.
Every title...every subtitle...every fascination and every design element is the product of that research.
Fact is you only think youre looking at mere books and magazines, when in fact, youre looking at billions of dollars of market research.
Now that you fully appreciate the value of your little field trip, lets see what you can learn...
First Stop: The Best-Seller Shelf
Start with the fiction section. Not a lot for direct marketers but take a look at the titles. Any good headline ideas here?
The 5th Horseman. Reminds me of a headline I used for a financial package once:
The Four Horsemen of the Stock Market Apocalypse. It was a wildly responsive headline.
Da Vinci Code. I got my idea for my Cracking the Wall Street Code promo from this one. Thanks, Mr. Brown!
Dirty Blonde the word dirty in a title (or headline) arouses prurient interest.
Like the word forbidden, its sure to get read.
Be sure you're taking notes...
Next, take a look at the cover art for graphic design ideas. The first two use very warm colors burgundy and gold for Da Vinci tan and orange for The Horseman.
5th Horseman: Notice the size of that 5!
The Tenth Circle: Another number in a title. What do they know that you dont?
Now that youre done with the best-selling fiction aisle, take a look at the non-fiction best-sellers or Advice section.
Again, take a look at the titles...
Inspiration by Wayne Dyer. Lousy title but a great author. In fact, the authors name is the real title thats why his name is three times larger than anything else on the cover. The publisher wasnt born yesterday: Dyer is the real product here.
When you have an author with name recognition and credibility like Wayne Dyer, it pays to lead with the celebrity versus leading with the product benefits.
Natural Cures They Dont Want You To Know About: Ho-hum title. But crack it open and scan the chapter titles. See any good headline or sub-headline ideas there?
Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living At Your Full Potential by Joel Osteen. Notice another number prominently in the subtitle. Again, the research shows numbers in titles sell books.
REAL MONEY: Sane Investing in an Insane World. Not a bad title especially the subtitle.
Take a look inside:
How we find hot stocks without getting burned...
Ten Commandments of Trading...
Tips Are for Waiters...
Stock Market Junkie...
Notice the fascinating turns of phrase and if youre writing for the financial markets, you just might want to take this one home with you.
Study each title and pull every power word, turn of phrase, copy concept or content idea you can find.
Content is especially important. Leading with a topic thats of interest to your prospects and delivers valuable information and advice before introducing your product and asking for the sale can be highly effective.
Knowing what people are reading tells you what theyre thinking about, worrying about or dreaming about.
Second Stop: Periodicals
Once youve studied the bestseller racks. Now its time to head to the magazine section.
Take a LOOK at all those covers!
Take a minute to soak it all in. Stand back from the racks and notice which colors reach out to you.
Which ones grab you by the eyeballs? Why? What colors and color combinations seize your attention first?
Dont forget to take notes as you go...
Note: Each of these publishers has been testing cover design and copy for years.
You are looking at the products of truly gargantuan research budgets.
Study how the headlines are set. Are they reversed? Or are they dark ink on a light background? Are they set in serif type or sans-serif?
How big are the characters? Do they have dimension say a drop-shadow behind them or hand-crafted to look like three-dimensional letters?
What kind of photographs or illustrations do you see? How many include an interesting-looking person doing something? How many feature only inanimate objects? What kinds of inanimate objects?
How many feature multiple photos? How well does each connect, illustrate or amplify the message in the main headline?
Knowing what you know about the primary market for each type of magazine, what do these choices suggest research might show about grabbing the attention of their target audience?
Now, do exactly what you did in the bestseller section: Quickly scan each headline and any additional copy on the covers.
You should be looking for three things here:
First, look for words and short phrases that reach out and immediately grab your attention. Something you feel or more importantly, that you believe your prospects will feel deep down in the gut.
Second, look for propositions, the phrasing of benefits and sentence structure techniques that deliver those words and the power they carry in the flash of an eye.
And third, look for topicality the subjects and themes that millions in research told the publishers would resonate best with their prospects.
Now, make a stack of the magazines that are speaking directly to your best prospects, scour the covers and tables of contents for headline, fascination and content ideas and if something really grabs you, read a couple dozen articles.
Or better yet, buy the magazines and take them home.
Speaking of the articles, be sure to check out how the editors begin each article the techniques they use in their article titles, deck copy and opening paragraphs to hook readers.
See how they use questions and declarative sentences to sell folks on reading.
Study the techniques they use when leading with fear...desire (greed)...intrigue...or benefits.
Pay close attention to the graphic layouts. Observe how they use pull-quotes, sidebars and graphics to catch scanners and drive their eyes down into the fine print.
Note the types of eye candy theyve found are best at keeping attention. What kinds of photos, illustrations and charts are they using?
While these devices are increasing readership are they also making the article text more credible? How do they handle captions on these devices?
Consider which of these powerful techniques could ramp up readership on your next promotion.
And while youre doing that, be sure to carefully check out the ads as well, there just might be a few good direct response ads worth learning from!
150 Titles Down: Next the Whirlwind Tour
Your going to need two hands for this next exercise the left one to hold your note pad and the right one to write feverishly as you cruise every aisle in the store.
Youre looking for as many headline ideas that leap out at you as you stroll through the stacks.
First rule of thumb: When you see a really great title, its a good bet the subtitle and chapter titles will be killer too. So be prepared to slam on the brakes and take a look at the table of contents.
Second rule of thumb: Pay special attention to books that are doing really well just not on the bestseller list you can spot them four ways:
1. End Caps: The hottest books in each section tend to be featured in end caps (displays at the end of each aisle).
2. Full Frontals: Hot sellers in the aisle racks are usually placed with the entire cover visible.
3. Quantity Clues: The greater the demand (or anticipated demand) for any book in the stacks, the more copies of that book youll see.
4. The POP Give-Away: The last place well look is at the cash register. This is where youll find the Point of Purchase displays with popular books and magazines the store hopes youll buy on impulse.
In less than three hours, you recharged your creative energy...got in touch with what your best prospects are reading and thinking about now...and picked up a bunch of techniques for grabbing and holding their attention.
Plus, you snagged some valuable insight into graphic design for maximum attention and readership and have pages of great power words and phrases to use in your next promotion.
Now, its time to put all that great stuff to work!
Soon as you get home while all of this is still fresh in your mind unlimber those notes and begin thinking about how you might apply each one to a project you're working on now or contemplate starting soon.
Add notes to your notes. Turn your headline ideas into heads that could be used for products you sell. Practice using the deck and opening techniques you picked up for real products. Jot down everything that springs into your mind.
Then save it all in your own personal swipe file and READ IT several times on your next project.
Written by Tony Flores, and based on the work and genius of Clayton Makepeace, this course is over 1,000 pages in length and also include CDs and DVDs. It's a huge and excellent course for anyone who truly wants to master the craft of direct response copywriting. More about this direct response copywriting course...
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Improve your copywriting skills and enter the very lucrative market for direct marketing copywriters. This is a comprehensive course and my #1 recommendation for anyone who wants to learn how to write copy that drives results. Read my in-depth review
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