Summary: CA$HVERTISING: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology by Drew Eric Whitman
Summary: CA$HVERTISING: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology by Drew Eric Whitman

Summary: CA$HVERTISING: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology by Drew Eric Whitman

41 Proven Techniques for Selling Anything to Anyone

Ad Secret #1 Be Simple.

Write to the chimpanzee brain. Simply Directly. Until someone read and understand your ad, you’re just selling yourself. People won’t’ study your ad carefully. They can’t be bothered. You’ve got to make your ads simple.

The simpler the words, the better. The shorter the sentences, the better.

  • Instead of saying “Become financially successful”, say “You’ll make up to $2,495 every week.”
  • Instead of saying “Want your entire body to look more appealing?”, say “Do you want a rippling, rock-hard six-pack?”

Pile on the personal pronouns. Say “Do you.. can you… would you… shoud you… may I ask you a question… let me tell you…”

Ad Secret #2 Bombard with benefits.

People buy based on what the product will do for them, not on the ingredients it has.

Product: Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe

Feature: Top-grade, hand-selected seat leathers

Benefit: Luxurious comfort in all climates

Feature: Deep-pile Wilton lamb’s wool carpeting

Benefit: The rich softness underfoot and lush elegance

Feature: 453 horsepower, 6.75 liter v-12 engine

Benefit: Power, control and supreme reliability

Ad Secret #3 Put your biggest benefit first.

Unless your headline sells the product, you’ve wasted 90percent of your money. The headline is the ticket on the meat. Use it to flag down readers who are prospects for the kind of product you’re selling.

Instead of saying “Attention Food Servers: New Workshop Teaches you Tricks on the Trade”

Say “Attention Food Servers: New Workshop Teaches you How to Boost Your Tips by 512%… or Your Money Back!”

 Instead of saying “Capturing the Best Times of Your Life is Now a Snap!”

Say “Giant Film Sale! All Rolls of 35mm Color Film are 25% off – This Week Only!”

 Ad Secret #4 Use scarcity.

 By suggesting there’s no need to act now, the salesperson gives the prospects no incentive to buy now. We’re talking about human inertia. We need to motivate people to act right now. Say things like

 “Call before April 5th

“Supplies are strictly limited”

“Offer expires May 15”

“Good only for first 50 callers”

 Ad Secret #5 Use 22 potent headline starters.

  1.  Free
  2. New
  3. At last
  4. This
  5. Announcing
  6. Warning!
  7. ust released
  8. Now
  9. Here’s
  10. These
  11. Which of
  12. Finally
  13. Look
  14. Presenting
  15. Introducing
  16.  How
  17.  Amazing
  18.  Do you
  19. Would you
  20. Can you
  21.  If you
  22. Starting today

 Ad Secret #6 Lure readers into your copy

 There are 12 ways to connect your headline with your copy:

  1. Continue the thought in headline
  2. Ask a question
  3. Quote a respected authority
  4. Give them a free taste (The next time you feel nervous, do this…”)
  5. Challenge them to prove it works (“Here’s what we want you to do. Read pages 8, 9…)
  6. Start with a story of skepticism
  7. Tell what others are saying
  8. Play reporter
  9. Get personal with You, You, You
  10. Tell a dramatic story
  11. Give super-detailed specs
  12.  Lure them with a short punchy sentence (“Don’t you hate it?”)

 Ad Secret #7 Be a purple cow.

 Successful small-spaced ads exploit their unusual shapes to get attention. Poor ones try to pack on too much information and draw too little attention.

 Ad Secret #8 Be careful with the reverse-type.

 Reverse-type is a type that is lighter in color than the background (for example – white text on a black background). Human eyes are not accustomed to reading in reverse, especially if the type is small.

 Ad Secret #9 Be specific.

 Instead of saying “We use better ingredients”

Say “It’s not just cow-milk mozzarella, it’s an incredibly flavorful and hard-to-find buffalo milk mozzarella. The cheese is never shredded but placed on top in chunks because shredded cheese releases too much moisture on the pie.”

 Ad Secret #10 Use Oglivy layout.

 Start the body with a drop-initial. You increase readership by average 13percent.

Put captions under pictures. People read the captions twice as much as the body.

Place the headline under visual. Eye moves to the picture first and then moves down.

 Ad Secret #11 Use matching typeface.

 It’s possible to blow away three-quarters of our readers by choosing the wrong font. You wouldn’t advertise your gym using Place, a lovely delicate and wrispy script font. Serif fonts on paper are generally easier to read. For the online reading, Arial seems to be a better option.

 Ad Secret #12 Use a pro design.

 Speak to the art or creative professional. If the budget is tight, you can find the students from art and design schools who are willing to work for cheap.

 Ad Secret #13 Ask questions.

 “Do you want to know one simple trick that will triple your ad engagement?” See what I mean? People are drawn to questions, especially if they can relate to it.

 Ad Secret #14 Win attention quickly.

 People expect 99 percent of their mails to be trash. You only have seconds to grab their attention and stir interest. Use AIDA framework (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action).

Instead of this,

“In these days of uncertainty on our streets, we continually read about the horrors that women face. We read frightening statistics that paint a gloomy picture….”

Write this,

“Dear Janet,

Can you protect yourself against a 220-pound rapist? Which grabbed your attention? The answer’s obvious!

There’s no time for tippy toeing. You need to make a big impact and make it fast.

 Ad Secret #15 Use social proof.

 People believe other people more than they believe the companies. Use testimonies. Show how other people are liking your brands. If you own a website, display counters, reviews, ratings.

 Ad Secret #16 Show faces and people.

 Your business is more than just a faceless entity. Guillotine Technique is a proven eyeball-grabber. Use a head or face that’s looking straight at the reader. Smiling is generally preferable.

 Ad Secret #17 Use Powerful Visual Adjectives (PVA)s.

 PVAs produce concrete and high-impact visual images. PVAs help readers easily visualize your products in their minds.

Instead of saying “Make lots of money”

Say “Earn $2,750 cash weekly”

Instead of saying “Juicy Red Apples”

Say “Mouth-watering, sugar-sweet, hand-picked apple!”

Instead of saying “Drink cleaner water”

Say “Enjoy pure crystal-clear, glacier-fresh water”

 Ad Secret #18 Tune up the senses.

 All experience is made up of five factors – VAKOG.

  1. Visual – sight
  2. Auditory – sound
  3. Kinesthetic – feeling
  4. Olfactory – smell
  5. Gustatory – taste

Create your internal representations in your prospect’s brains through one or more of these senses.

 Ad Secret #19 Call them to action.

 Ad is selling in print. You wouldn’t let go of a prospect without trying to close them. So why wouldn’t you do it with the ads? People are almost guaranteed not to act unless they’re given a reason.

 Ad Secret #20 Create your USP.

 People don’t like commodities. When they can’t distinguish your offer from the competition, you’re a commodity. Be sure your product or service stands out in at least one way.

 Ad Secret #21 Buy your own island.

 You don’t need to pay for a full-page ad every time. Tell your ad rep you want a Half-Page Island. This special size is positioned so it visually takes up almost the entire page and makes it very difficult for newspapers to put other ads near it.

 Ad Secret #22 Position your authority.

 If you’re a printer, say

“How to Get Beautiful Wedding Invitations Printed without Getting Ripped Off”

“How Your Business Can Save Up To 27% on Beautiful 4-Color Printing”

“How to Make Your Resume 325% More Attention-Getting Than Your Competition”

 Ad Secret #23 Use a sales letter in survey clothing.

 Dear Eileen:

May I ask you a favor?

I’d like to know your honest opinion of our Auto Detailing Service we performed for you recently.

Would you kindly check off your answers to the questions below, and then mail this survey back to me in the postage-paid envelope enclosed? Thanks for being such a great customer.



Circle One Number for Each of the Questions Below

  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how happy are you with our Detailing Service?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10, what do you think about our service?

Thanks, Eileen! To show my appreciation for you completing this important survey, I’m sending you this 16-ounce bottle of Liquid Mirror Spray for 50% OFF to protect your car’s just-detailed finish…

Do you see the power of this? People not only love giving their opinions, they love coupons and discounts. For you, you not only get valuable feedback, you increase your profit through additional sales.

 Ad Secret #24 Power with pictures.

 No matter what type of product or service you’re promoting, studies show consistently that ads with pictures perform much better on many levels than those with text alone. The seven best types of photos are children/babies, mothers/babies, groups of adults, animals, sports scenes, celebrities and food. It’s also important to use the visual that connects with the brand and the message you’re conveying. Instead of showing a fridge against a generic background, show it in a beautifully equipped working kitchen.

 Ad Secret #25 Grab attention with grabbers.

 Say you sell carpets. You could write like this:

“Dear Scott,

As you can see, I’ve attached a crisp one-dollar bill to the top of this letter.

Why? To make a point.

I’m going to show you – right here in this letter – how to save 100 of these bills (yes, $100) when you buy carpet for your new home.

It’s a proven effective way to stir up reader’s curiosity and make them feel at least obligated to read your letter.

 Ad Secret #26 Pick a long copy over a short one, when in doubt.

 Direct response advertisers know short copy doesn’t sell. In split tests, long copy invariably outsells short copy. The conventional wisdom says short copies are generally preferred based on the assumption that people will not read much.  Yet a vast amount of best-paying ads show people do read much. The only reason for using short copy is when there isn’t much to say. After all, a salesman wouldn’t say “How do you do” speak a few words then ask to sign the order. He would use enough words to get your emotion and reasoning power flowing toward a sale.

 Ad Secret #27 Test your offers.

 You can’t tell the marketplace what to buy from you. They’ll tell you what they want. If your ad doesn’t work, they’re telling you. If your phone doesn’t ring, they’re telling you. If no one redeems your coupo, they’re telling you. It’s up to you to find out what they want and then give it to them.

 Ad Secret #28 Survey to ask for feedback.

 The secret of a good survey response is ‘ease’. Make it super easy to reply. Give all multiple-choice answers if possible and use semantic differential scales (on a scale of 1 to 10 how likely are you to recommend our pizza?”).

 Ad Secret #29 Don’t be too enthusiastic in editorial ads.

 In editorial ads, never sound too enthusiastic about what you’re selling. News reporting in particular is supposed to be objective, so if you get too carried away, you’ll blow the whole effect. It’s been found that the less an ad looks like an ad, the more readers stop, look and read.

 Ad Secret #30 Persuade with coupons.

 Don’t underestimate the power of coupons. Little coupons can bring big returns. 86 percent of US people use coupons. People are coupon crazy and they’ll drive miles to redeem the coupon, even if they end up paying for more gas.

 Ad Secret #31 Use 7 response boosters.

  1. Email at least once a week.
  2. Set the expectation of what your email is about.
  3. Do an A/B test on HTML vs Text version.
  4. Use a familiar name as a sender, make your subject line personal and include your offer.
  5. On average, the larger the ad, the better it performs.
  6. Don’t overuse animations. Your goal is to attract, not irritate.
  7. Don’t confuse clicks for sales.

 Ad Secret #32 Use the optimal multi-page format.

 The top three most effective multi-ad formats are:

  1. Three single-page ads in sequence on the right side
  2. Two single page ads in different sections of same issue on the right side
  3. Double-page spread.

 Ad Secret #33 Offer the strongest guarantee in your industry.

 Such guarantee conveys the confidence in what you’re selling.

 Ad Secret #34 Be as big as possible.

 Ad’s attention value is approximately proportionate to the square root of the ad area.

 Ad Secret #35 Don’t worry if you can’t go too big.

 A good ad will get noticed irrespective of its position within the newspaper.

 Ad Secret #36 Advertise on the fantastic four.

  1. Ads appearing on the inside front cover have the highest average ‘seen and recalled’ percentage.
  2. Ads placed opposite a table of contents have the second highest percentage.
  3. Ads appearing on back cover have the third highest percentage.
  4. Ads placed on the inside back cover have the fourth highest percentage.

 Ad Secret #37 Use the right color.

 According to the research, ‘blue’ comes on top of the peoples’ favorite colors. Red comes in second. Green, third, Violet, forth, Orange, fifth and Yellow comes in at last.

 Ad Secret #38 Know the psychology of pricing.

 Odd-even pricing (those end with 77, 95, 99) suggest greater value. Walmart is known for its heavy use of odd-even pricing, with their favorite end digits being ‘97’.

Prestige pricing (those end with round numbers), by contrast, are perceived as higher quality. For example, $1,000 suggests higher quality than $999.95. Nordstorm uses prestige pricing

 Ad Secret #39 Know the psychology of color.

 Color alters reader perception in ways that even experts can’t explain.  

 Ad Secret #40 Harness the white space.


The attention increase of white space


Buy more space and instead of filling it with more copy and pictures, wrap your ad in white space.

 Ad Secret #41 Don’t try to be so clever.

 Clever and creative doesn’t always mean effective. In advertising, it’s not clever to be clever.

Instead of saying “Only $250 keeps you from getting caught in a sticky web on the net”

Say “Powerful web pages designed in 24 horus by famous marketing expert for $199”


22 Ways to Supercharge Ad Engagement

  1. FORGET style – sell instead
  2. SCREAM free information
  3. WRITE short sentences
  4. USE short simple words
  5. WRITE long copy
  6. BOIL it down cut out the fluff
  7. STIR up the desire by piling on benefits
  8. SHOW what you’re selling, use action shots
  9. GET personal, say you you you
  10. USE selling subheads to break up long copy
  11. PUT selling captions under your photos
  12. WRITE powerful visual adjectives (PVAs)
  13. SELL your product, not your competitor’s
  14. DON’T hold back, give them the full sell
  15. ALWAYS include social proof
  16. MAKE it ridiculously easy to act
  17. INCLUDE a response coupon
  18. SET a scarcity to break inertia
  19. OFFER a free gift for quick replies
  20. SAY the words “Order Now!”
  21. OFFER free shipping
  22. BOOST response 50 percent or more with a “Bill Me” or credit option


 9 Ways to Convey ‘Value’

  1. SCREAM “Sale”
  2. GIVE coupons
  3. DIMINISH the price
  4. EXPLAIN why the price is low
  5. AMORTIZE the price “just 0.99$ a day”
  6. BOOST the value
  7. TELL how much others have paid
  8. CREATE a sense of scarcity
  9. EMPLOY psychological pricing


13 Ways to Make Buying Easy

  1. GIVE your address, web-address and email
  2. GIVE your phone number
  3. PROVIDE street directions
  4. SAY “It’s easy to order”
  5. ACCEPT phone orders
  6. ACCEPT mail orders
  7. ACCEPT online orders
  8. ACCEPT fax orders
  9. ACCEPT credit cards
  10. ACCEPT personal checks
  11. GET a toll-free phone number
  12. INCLUDE a long, strong guarantee
  13. OFFER installment payments


Getting Started: Your Killer Ad CHECKLIST 

Headline features the biggest product benefit.
Headline includes the ‘grabber’ and elicits emotional response.
Headline uses 22 psychologically potent headline starters.
Headline is significantly larger than the body.
Headlines are powerful enough to get people to read the body.
Headline includes some kind of offer.
Headline is authoritative.
(Part) of the headline is set in capitals.
Headline is in quotes.
Body hooks the reader.
Body connects with the headline.
Body gets right into benefits, instead of bragging about your brand.
Body forces the reader to read the second sentence.
Body includes ‘you’ in the first few words.
Body bombards with benefits.
Body tells why the reader should buy from you.
Body sounds exciting.
Body progresses in a logical way (AIDA).
Body sells one product at a time, instead of selling everything you got.
Body uses subheads to break up a long copy.
Body includes powerful visual adjectives (PVA).
Body sounds credible.
Body doesn’t insult reader intelligence.
Body pushes the emotional hot button.
Body is extremely specific.
Body contains simple words.
Body is written in a readable and compelling typeface.
Body is intentional.
Body includes call to action.
Body sets a deadline for action.
Body uses social proof.
Body includes noticeable contact information.
Body includes a logo.
Body gives directional instructions (website, app, physical store…)
Body contains a medium/metric to track response.
Professional designer designed your ad.
Headline is big and bold.
Headline is broken properly (e.g. Now you can throw away break Your Glasses and Enjoy break  20/20 Vision again!)
Ad is easy to read and flows logically.
Ad is wrapped in white space.
Paragraphs are indented.
Ad includes visuals to pique attention and drive sales.
Ad contains a minimum number of typefaces (max 3).
Ad features a picture of a person looking at the reader.