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How to Avoid the 5 Biggest Pitfalls of Advertorial Marketing

By Steve Kroening

October 21, 2010

So you want to make money using advertorials?

You obviously know that advertorials are one of the most powerful sales tools on the Internet. And you’re ready to get started. You’ve done your research. You know your customer. Your list is an ideal fit. And you’ve already purchased the ad space.  Now you’re ready to write the copy. But you’re about to find out one of the harshest truths of Internet marketing – it’s hard to write an advertorial that works.

That’s because advertorials are full of pitfalls that can kill your response.

But I’m about to show you how to avoid the 5 biggest pitfalls of advertorial writing. If you can avoid these gotchas, you’re well on your way to maximizing your profits.

Pitfall #1 - Using the Wrong Style

One of the biggest misconceptions about advertorial writing is that you can use journalistic writing styles and make the sale. Advertorial writing isn’t like any writing style you learned from your English professor. Sure, basic grammar rules apply.

But if you think you can write an advertorial the same way you’d write a college term paper, a magazine article, a product review, or a newspaper feature, you’ll be sadly disappointed with your results.  When writing for a publication, such as a magazine, the goal of the article is to teach or inform the reader. If the reader walks away from the article excited that he’s learned something new, you’ve succeeded.

Not so with the advertorial. The last thing you want is for the prospect to walk away before he buys your product. So right from the start, your goal is quite different than most writing styles.  You want to pick your reader up and sweep him along to a final destination. That means your writings has to grab the reader by the hand and lead him to your destination. It also has to be persuasive, overcoming every obstacle that could possibly keep your prospect from buying your product.

Your writing also has to be passionate and full of vitality. If you can’t get excited about your product, then you can be sure the reader won’t be. However, if you’re convinced your product is the best one around, let it come out in your writing. If you’re passionate and sincere about it, the prospect will believe you.

To make your copy passionate, use words that are active and full of life. Focus on action verbs. Using passive voice will bore your prospect and slow him down. Instead of saying “the situation was described by the reporter,” say, “the reporter described the situation.”

Next, you have to write from the reader’s point of view. Use the word “you” rather than “we” or “us.” The focus is the reader. Not your product. That may sound like heresy. But if you’re advertorial focuses on your product, the reader will lose interest. But if you focus on the prospect – and show him how your product makes his life better – then he’ll keep reading.

Finally, keep it simple. Use small words, short sentences, and short paragraphs. The easier the copy is to read, the more likely your prospect is to read it. Your goal isn’t to impress the reader with your IQ. It’s to get him to move quickly through the copy and arrive at your final pitch with very little effort.

And that leads us right into the second major pitfall in advertorials...

Pitfall #2 - Avoid Dead Zones

If you use a cell phone, you know what a dead zone is. In fact, you probably wanted to throw your phone out the window when it dropped that important call. Well, a dead zone in advertorials is every bit as frustrating to your prospect.

In fact, if there’s any point in your copy where the reader begins to drift or lose interest, he’s hit a dead zone. And you’ve lost a sale.

But to make the sale every time, just remember these two words: “greased chute.” Let me explain.  Ben Suarez, one of the great copywriters, says your advertorial should read like a “greased chute, with no dead spots in the copy. Once the prospect starts reading, he or she flies through the promotion and can’t stop.”

So how do you make your ad like a “greased chute”? It all starts with your headline.

That’s right! To make your ad a “greased chute,” the grease has to be the thickest at the beginning. If you don’t get your prospect off to a fast start, there’s no way they’re going to finish.

When advertorials fail, it’s usually because the headline is a dead zone. That’s the kiss of death for your ad.

So what makes a great headline? There’s one answer, and only one answer, to that question: A great headline gets the prospect to read the first sentence.

I know it sounds simplistic, but if you can’t get your prospect to read the first sentence, your headline is a dead zone. And you won’t make the sale. However, if your headline grabs the prospect’s attention and practically forces him to read on, your chances of success go up exponentially.

What does a great headline look like? Here are some examples of headlines that really pull you in:
* The Easiest, Safest Way to Profit From the Plunging Dollar
* The “Safe” Over-the-Counter Remedy That Can KILL You Instantly!
* How You Can Have a New Kid by Friday

Notice how these headlines arouse your curiosity? They grab you and make you want to find out the answer. That’s because all great headlines do three things really well.

They all:
-promise a benefit•
-present unique and intriguing information•
-offer something new the reader hasn’t heard before*

Of course, once your prospect slides through the headline, you have a new challenge. You now have to get the prospect to read the second sentence. That means your first sentence has to be just as strong as your headline.

This has to be the case for every sentence in your ad. If one sentence doesn’t force the prospect to read the next sentence, you’ve got a dead zone. Avoid that at all costs. The better your copy propels the reader through your ad, the more likely he is to buy your product.

So your advertorial has to make the reader glide effortlessly through the entire ad. And that brings us to the next pitfall you have to avoid.

Pitfall #3 - Failing to Provide Value

While your copy must be a “greased chute,” don’t think that means your copy is full of hype. If it is, it will turn off the prospect to the copy – and to your product. Your advertorial must provide the reader with value.

Think of value this way – when the reader is finished reading your copy, he feels like he’s received something that will benefit his life. In this way, an advertorial is similar to copy found in a magazine. The best way to provide value is to show the prospect how your product will benefit his life. Notice I said “show” not “tell.” If you just tell your prospect your product is beneficial, he won’t buy it. But if you can show him, he’s far more likely to understand – and buy your product.

To show your prospect the benefits of your product, stories are the key. Every prospect has one of two questions in his mind when he reads an article. He’s asking either “What’s in it for me?” or “So what?” Stories can answer both questions quickly and easily. Plus, they act like super slippery grease in the “greased chute.” They keep the reader moving through the copy effortlessly.

For instance, let’s say you sell padded chairs. A powerful sales story would be a study that shows how padded chairs increased the attention span of church-goers by 20%. Any church or business that uses chairs is going to take notice of that story. If your advertorial does its job, it will take the reader straight from that story right into an example of how your chairs can do the same thing as those used in the study. Bang! You’ve got an easy sale!

Notice how the study gives the reader the three critical elements of an advertorial. It gives him something new (information they didn’t have before), something beneficial (a simple way to increase the attentiveness of their congregation or workers), and something unique (an easy solution to a problem they didn’t find anywhere else).

All of sudden, you’ve given your prospect value and a reason to care about your product. From there, a sale is easy.

But there’s another pitfall that can stop the prospect in his tracks.

Pitfall #4 - No Call to Action

As I said at the very beginning, your advertorial must direct the prospect. If you direct him all the way to the end of the piece and don’t tell him what action he needs to take, you won’t make the sale.  The action to take is like the climax of a good story. You’ve got your prospect sliding through your “greased chute” and now you’ve got to give him a way to fulfill all the expectations you’ve just instilled in him.

However, don’t think of your call to action as a passive, gentle exercise. Your call to action is the part of your advertorial where you get aggressive and push the reader to respond. It’s where you give the reader no choice but to respond with the action you want.

You can do this by giving added incentives for ordering right away. For instance, you could say, “If you’re one of the first 100 orders to order today, you’ll receive a 10% discount. But it’s good for today only.”

Or you can say that you’re clearing your inventory and the new-year models will be 10% more – so order today.

It might even offer an upgrade. “Order today and we’ll upgrade your order to our deluxe model.”
Once you’ve come up with your urgent call to action, take all their concerns about ordering out of the way with a strong guarantee. Give them a money-back guarantee or a satisfaction guarantee. And remember this: The stronger your guarantee, the more likely they are to order. For instance, a 90-day money-back guarantee is a lot better than 30 days. It lets the prospect know he’s got time to really try your product without rushing.

Once you get the prospect to take action, you have one more pitfall to avoid...

Pitfall #5 - The Wrong Finish

Now that you’ve got your prospect gliding through your copy, you’ve provided him with plenty of value, and you’ve called him to action, do you know where you want him to finish? If you don’t, your ad is doomed.

One of the biggest pitfalls you’ll discover in advertorial writing is having the wrong goal. You’re spending a lot of time, effort, and money on this ad. So before you begin, make sure you know where you want your prospect to go and what you want him to do.

Ultimately, you want your prospect to order your product. When the advertorial runs in an email or on a website, the action you want the prospect to take is to click on a link. Where that link takes him is very important.

Some advertorials stand completely alone as a sales piece and can link directly to an order form. Other advertorials are just the beginning of a longer “greased chute.” Their link takes the prospect to a longer sales page.

But the one place you don’t want your prospect to land is directly on the home page of your website. The only time this works is if your home page continues the sales process. However, most home pages don’t do this.

It’s much better to keep your prospect flying down that “greased chute” right up until they click the “Complete Order” button. If they hit any word, sentence, or page along the way that stops them from making an easy transaction, you’ve lost the sale.

So make sure you know where your prospect is going to land.

Making Your Advertorial Work for You

Advertorials are a great way to market your products. And if you can avoid these common pitfalls, your prospects will glide right through your copy. It’ll be so enticing that few good prospects will be able to resist your offer.

It takes a lot of hard work to make your advertorial as slick as a “greased chute.” But it’s well worth the effort. If you’d like more information on how to write great advertorials, then visit my website: www.advertorialexpert.com. On my site, I show you: 

-The fastest way to evaluate your advertorial and determine how easy it is to read. The better you get at this simple exercise, the more sales you’ll make.
-The most powerful ways to start your advertorial.  Using these proven methods, you can make sure the start of your chute has your prospects sliding quickly through your copy.
-A simple way to super-grease your chute so the prospect can’t put it down. Make this one adjustment to your copy and it can make a huge difference in your success.
-What many advertorial writers put in their copy that you should always leave out. Including these never increases your sales, but can seriously hinder them.

Plus much, much more.

You can dramatically boost the click-through rates of your advertorials. And higher click-through rates translate into big money in sales. I’ll show you how to do it. Just follow this link today.

About the Author
Steve Kroening makes writing advertorials easy and profitable. Whether you’re writing your own or need someone to write advertorials, Steve can help. He has over 17 years of direct marketing experience. To make your next advertorial your most profitable advertorial, check out his web site www.advertorialexpert.com or call him directly at 404-444-8515.

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