Yesterday I wrote about the differences between advertisements that made a concrete offer vs. those ads that simply attempt to enhance the advertiser’s brand or image. I referred to Zig Ziglar, who describes a salesperson who never attempts to close the deal as a “professional visitor” rather than a “professional salesperson.”

Unfortunately, much of the copy written by many copywriters falls into the “professional visitor” category.

An ad that makes no offer to the reader, makes no call to action, or no inducement to do something, is the written equivalent of a professional visitor. Such ads are simply a waste of lots and lots of money.

So how should a copywriter make an offer? An offer is a benefit tied to an action. The benefit is what you will give the client if they will take a specific action. The action required can be to buy something, but you can also set a lower threshold and simply require that they send in a coupon for a free information product or a free gift that relates in some way to the services you offer.

The problems with brand and image advertising are numerous. First, the most likely response to such an ad is for the reader to put it down and say, “Wow, if I ever need these guys, now I know where they are.” The only way the advertiser is going to get business from this person is if she someday needs that product or service and can some how remember who it was that put out the advertisement she saw months or years ago.

But image ads get even worse. Many of these advertisers imply some vague action to be done by the reader, such as, “contact us if you have any questions.” To this, the reader says, “OK if I ever have any questions, I’ll be sure to give you a call.”

An offer, on the other hand, promises a concrete benefit for a concrete act. “Fill in your email address and you will get a free ebook.” “Call our office and we will send a free booklet.” “Attend our free seminar and we will give you a free meal and teach you how to safely invest for retirement.”

The tragedy of brand and image advertising is that you can do both, make an offer and enhance your image. Look at some of the ads put out by the major financial or brokerage firms. I just recently saw an ad by Morgan Stanley that offered a free analysts’ report on the economic outlook for the next business cycle. Such an ad clearly heightened their image as knowledgeable investment advisors, while also offering a benefit (the free report) in exchange for the reader taking action (sending in the coupon requesting the report).

I can’t think of any business that couldn’t make a similar offer. Not only would such an ad enhance your business’ brand image, you would also gather leads of potential clients and build a database from which you could send out future mailings of interest to that group of people.

Remember, the most profitable advertisers are not “professional visitors,” even on paper. Always be a “professional salesperson” and you will see immediate and significant increases in your profitability.


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