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The Perfect Ad

I saw it on I-75 South heading into Atlanta, Georgia. It was exciting to see -- like spotting the nearly extinct ivory-billed woodpecker. But this was no rare bird; it was a perfect ad. Perhaps just as rare. Five words in black print against a pale purple ground. No design. No graphic device at all. No need; the words said it all. Two of those words were from the top-ten list of words that generate the strongest response.

The ad presented a clear benefit. It made a powerful offer. It was aimed at a specific target audience. All that in five simple words. The ad was on a billboard, but its message would work in any media: TV, newspaper, radio, magazine, internet, direct mail, or... restroom stall.

It called out only to people who could benefit from the companyís products and services. It did not need to entertain anyone. It was not trying to win any awards. It did not waste the time of anyone to whom the message does not pertain. I have no doubt that it has been extremely successful. Here it is:

20/20 or FREE
Lasik Guarantee

Itís beautiful isnít it? Iíd say pure poetry, but youíd think that I was referring to the fact that it happens to rhyme -- thatís just a bonus -- it doesnít need to rhyme. Those five words communicate volumes. To the person who has been dithering over whether or not to have eye surgery it says, ďRelax, we are so skilled at Lasik -- you will have perfect vision when weíre done.Ē An effective sales pitch must dispel the consumerís doubt and instill confidence in its place. This ad does both. By the way, I did not write this ad. Congratulations to the person who did!

But, youíre thinking: ďSure, that ad is fine for a specific service like corrective eye surgery, but my company offers a common product with lots of competition that nearly everybody uses. I canít use straight-forward advertising like that. I need to be funny or clever to get attention. Or, I have to speak to the emotions of my customer and get them to relate to my product on a subconscious or visceral level.Ē

Nonsense! Thatís the image-advertising trap. And, unless youíve got millions of ad dollars to spend, Iíd stick to the scientifically proven formula of benefit driven advertising. Every product or service -- no matter how generic -- can advertise a benefit. Yes, soft drinks too! I can replace the above billboard with the following:

Driving is Tiring
Coke is Refreshing

Exit 112 -- Now!

Iíve selected a specific audience. Iíve offered a clear benefit. Iíve even snuck in a Call-to-Action. Brilliant! (I might also include a mouth-watering image of a sweating bottle of Coke -- the right graphic device can communicate a benefit even faster than words). Coca-Cola actually used to advertise this way. Iíd encourage them to test a quarter of their advertising budget (maybe a billion dollars or so) on it again.

What powerful compelling benefit can your company offer? Put it in words; be concise and specific; then run with it. The results will be amazing.

Copyright 2006, Robert Evans Wilson, Jr.,

This article may be freely published. Permission to publish this article, electronically or in print, as long as the bylines are included, with a live link, and the article is not changed in any way.

About the Author: Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. of Jumpstart Your Meeting!, located in Atlanta, GA, is a nationally recognized Advertising Sales Motivational Speaker. With over 20 years of advertising & marketing experience, he helps advertising account executives and sales reps increase advertising sales by increasing ROI for their advertiser clients. Robert also works with companies that want to be more competitive and teaches innovation skills that help high achievers stay on the cutting edge. Please contact Robert at 404-255-4924 or visit

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