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A HOBBY THAT PAYS
By Robert Evans Wilson, Jr.
© 2004, Robert Evans Wilson, Jr.

Here's a fun and easy way to improve your advertising skills. One that will familiarize you with the workings of an effective ad. Simply collect advertisements that grabbed your attention. Ads that stopped you and held your interest. It doesn't matter if it led you to a purchase. Collect it even if you just paused for a moment. If it is a print ad, clip it. If it is on radio or TV, jot down the hook or lead-in that caught you. If instead, it was a visual or audio element that pulled you in, take note of that. Better yet, record them (it will enable you to do the next part even better).

Now separate your ads into three groups. Group one will be those that only grabbed your attention, but then failed to hold it beyond the first impression (visual, headline, hook, or lead-in). In group two, place the ads that captured your attention, but upon further information or shopping turned out not to be right for you. Finally, group three will contain the ads that led you to make a purchase.

Now ask yourself: Why did this ad get my attention? How did it speak to me? Am I in the market for this? Should I be? Are the characters, who are using the brand, my kind of people? Did the ad play my kind of music? Did I see settings or places that I'm fond of? Or activities such as sports that I can relate to? Did the ad address a specific problem that I'm having?

Many ads will get your attention because of an interesting visual, a curious headline or humorous hook. Perhaps even a celebrity pitchman. These ads will make up the bulk of your collection. Ones that momentarily distract you, but quickly fade away because they use the scattergun approach of trying to reach everyone in the hopes of reaching their true target audience.

On the other hand, the ad may have gotten your attention because it accurately let you know that you are the target audience for that product or service. In other words, you are either in the market or potentially in the market for it. This is an ad with a powerful message. It may speak to your emotions or it may appeal to your rational mind, but either way it is offering you a benefit. Keep this ad and study it, then create ads like it for your business.

Robert Wilson is an advertising consultant and speaker, contact him at www.jumpstartyourmeeting.com.

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