• Headlines must stop readers.
• Subheads highlight following paragraphs.
• Copy explains products and uses.
• Graphic(s) help attract readers.
Follow the basics and you, too, can write good ads.
Sounds simple and easy–but it’s not. Suitable “heds,” “subs” and graphics require much thought to include news, curiosity and ideas to attract readers. It’s easier to use “discount” or “sale,” which actually include all three concepts.
An early advertising guru, the late Albert Lasker, wrote, “The headline is 90 percent of all there is to an ad. If you can’t stop them, they won’t read your ad and may not buy your product or idea.”
If Lasker were alive today, he would probably include a few lines about the power and place of electronic and computer ads, such as: “In just a few decades, we’ve lived through a communications revolution. Mergers, combined with technology, have made obsolete entire industries and lifetime skills of various trades. Scores and scores of companies have merged into mega-corporations. Famous brand names nurtured by millions of costly advertisements are gone.”
Words power new images. Retailers would use the word “sale” to denote product price decreases. Then, they would add a word or two of description. Sales were held during spring, fall and annually. Christmas sales became regular observances. “Anniversary” or “special” were used; “super” became popular for a time, now it’s overused. “Mega” has been “in,” too. All of them announced real sales.
DISCOUNT SALES APPEAL
Now, shoppers want more than some kind of sale. Rather, they look for discounts—the greater, the better. Not just dinky little 10 percent discounts, but super-mega discounts of 30 percent and more. This past holiday season, “70 percent off” seemed to be the ultimate limit.
Another phrase used by major stores and discounters: “Take advantage of 30 to 40 percent discount prices, then add another 10 to 15 percent off.” The bonus might be reserved for a special day of the week, for senior day or when you used a special coupon.
One would think that big discounts are not enough incentive. Now people wait for a super bonus on top of a mega discount. Such bonuses must still leave the retailer some kind of margin for profit, or we can wait for the final “closeout” discount. That would be the final one before the “new store opening” discount with a mail-in rebate of some kind. But rebates with a necessary mail-in feature have not achieved much popularity.
NOT EVERYONE FOLLOWS DISCOUNT TRENDS
In window coverings ads, I’ve noticed that JC Penney and other major discounters offer reasonable discounts in their full-color inserts and brochures. One Penney mailer offered a “wide assortment of pinch-pleated draperies, shears and curtains at discounts from 20 to 60 percent off.” On their stock blinds and verticals, the percentage off was 20 to 50 percent plus an extra 15 percent off its entire stock. Installation costs were not mentioned. Drapery hardware was priced with a discount of 20 to 30 percent off. I assume that noted somewhere in all the discounts was a claim that price reductions were off the original pricing.
Even some design studios and specialty window coverings dealers offer small discounts for custom installation. Or some include “free measuring, estimates and decorating ideas.” A few custom product ads also included free installation.
Most of the custom design and specialty window coverings store ads have no price information or even a headline. They prefer the professional design look using only the name, address and an excellent photo of a plush residential or office interior with lots of white space to accent the photo.
SMALL STORE SALES
Independent window coverings retailers continue their standard service and ideas theme. Any discounts offered are small-scale. Headlines and copy also feature dealer know-how in addition to service and ideas. Some graphics, primarily type sizes and accents, are used in small-store ads. Special sale days (anniversaries, etc.) offer standard price reductions compared to regular prices. Small discounts are still used occasionally with percentages off regular prices.
Discounted-price offers will probably always have a place in print materials featuring merchandise sales. It’s just human nature to appreciate a bargain. But shoppers seem to be tiring of the barrage of questionable discounts and other sales incentives. Even the special-effects graphics and in-home family stories lose appeal after repeated overexposure of the same commercial.
Even Wal-Mart, which once used its “small ad budget” for new store openings, now has big-budget family themes to emphasize their “down-home” process and appeal. They won’t give up on Sam Walton’s theme logo,” Always Low Prices.”
Next time, I’ll show and tell how small-store ads contain service and process in their headlines.
John J. Lichty is a consultant and senior editor for Draperies
& Window Coverings magazine. He has more than 30 years experience
in the planning and administration of various consumer, trade and
retail advertising programs.
Window Treatment Advertising is a regular feature in Draperies & Window Coverings examining many ways in which retailers can make the best use of their time, efforts and resources to create effective marketing and promotional campaigns. Past articles dating back to 1996 can be found on D&WC’s online archive categorized by author and subject: www.dwcdesignet.com/ DWC/ArticleIndex.html.