Article reading time: 16 minutes. Book reading time: 3h19
Cashvertising: How to Use More Than 100 Secrets of Ad-agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone is a copywriting book written by Drew Eric Whitman.
It was the first copywriting book I ever read. I loved it the first time, but it’s not as good as Copywriting Secrets.
Find below a summary.
Summary of Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman
The purpose of copywriting is to persuade through writing. To do so, you must follow a series of steps and rules so that people buy what you sell.
People care the most about themselves. Your ad should be a summary of what your product will do for them.
People’s deep desires are:
- Survival, enjoyment of life, life extension
- Enjoyment of food and beverage
- Freedom from fear, pain and danger
- Sexual companionship
- Comfortable living conditions
- Winning, being superior
- Care and protection of loved ones
- Social approval
People buy because of emotions and justify with logic.
Force an emotional response by touching on a basic want or need.
The longer the copy is, the better it is. The most logical the copy is, the better it is.
People have nine other secondary desires
- To be informed
- Cleanliness of body and surroundings
- Expression of beauty and style
Desires work according to a formula. It’s by identifying the desire and providing it through our product that we can increase our sales.
Formula: Tension (problem) → Desire (to fix the problem) → Action to Satisfy the Desire (fix the problem).
You need to know which tension your service/product solves.
When we read about a product or service, we imagine ourselves using it and make a decision based on this mental movie.
17 foundational principles of consumer psychology
Principle 1: Fear sells
Fear creates stress (tension) which demands something to be done about it. Use fear only if your product offers the appropriate solution for a fearful situation.
Fear appeal is most effective when:
- it scares a lot
- it offers recommendations to overcome the threat
- the action is effective in reducing the threat
- the buyer believes he can do it himself
Principle 2: Ego-morphing
When your product is associated with an image or person that the buyer wishes to become so that he will buy your product (luxury industry).
Principle 3: Transfer: credibility by osmosis
Transfer is a strategy that involves using people, groups, or institutions to persuade your prospect that your product or service is acceptably endorsed.
Eg: 90% of dentists would recommend this toothpaste.
Humans are lazy and will avoid thinking at all costs. If someone they respect has already done the thinking for them, they’ll simply make the same decision.
Principle 4: The Bandwagon Effect—Give Them Something to Jump On
Membership in some groups is still critically important for our happiness.
We often wear shirts and caps proclaiming our associations, which makes us feel accepted, valuable, and important.
There are three types of groups you identify with:
- Aspirational—groups you want to belong to
- Associative—groups you feel you are part of because you have something in common
- Dissociative—groups to which you do not want to belong.
By linking products to one of these three groups, you can persuade your prospects to make decisions based upon the group with which they identify.
Successfully gaining associative group influence is complex.
This can be done in two ways:
- Associating your product with the target group through advertising
- Disassociating your product from other groups within society, in order to make it appear more accepted, or, in the cases of younger audiences, simply more “cool.”
The kid clothes industry does both, by urging kids to be part of the cool kid’s group while rejecting the adults.
Principle 5: The Means-End Chain—The Critical Core
“Don’t buy my product for what it does for you today—buy it for what it will do for you tomorrow!”
The strategy is based on the theory that many consumer decisions are taken not to satisfy an immediate need, but for some future objective.
The formula for activating the Means-End Chain mindset is simple.
Your copy and images should always represent the positive end results. In this way your prospect is less likely to critically analyze the pros and cons of the actual product, and base their purchase decision on the ultimate benefit it will provide them.
People don’t buy the drill. They buy the hole.
Principle 6: The Transtheoretical Model—Persuasion Step by Step
If clients don’t know what a hamburger is, you can’t sell them McDonald’s.
This is what the model helps with: it takes clients from complete ignorance to regular purchases.
- Precontemplation: People in this stage are either ignorant or unaware they need your product.
- Contemplation: Prospects in this stage are aware of your product and have thought about using it.
- Preparation: Your prospect wants to buy but needs more information.
- Action: Your prospect buys.
- Maintenance: Your prospect regularly buys your product.
The challenge is to deal simultaneously with consumers at different stages. For that, you can whether create ads that address the five stages, or a series of ads over time that progress from one stage to another.
Principle 7: The Inoculation Theory—Make Them Prefer You for Life
The Inoculation Theory is used to reinforce a consumer’s existing attitudes toward a product or service by presenting a “weak” argument that tricks the consumer into defending his position and therefore strengthening his attitude.
The three steps are:
- Warn of an impending attack.
- Make a weak attack.
- Encourage a strong defense.
One way advertisers use inoculation is by publicizing their competitors’ criticisms of their company and turning them to their advantage in the form of weak attacks that serve to reinforce and ensure their consumers’ loyalty.
Inoculation is a favorite among politicians: “my opponent will tell you there’s no way to bring down skyrocketing oil prices… But I tell you this is definitely not the case, and here is why….”
Principle 8: Belief Re-ranking—Change Their Reality
People hate changing their minds, appearance, or anything.
Fortunately, there are ways to change people’s beliefs when they don’t believe they need your product.
-> switch the focus away from the attitudes and onto the underlying beliefs.
Eg: “there is the idea in society that baking soda is bad…however, recent studies outline that there are plenty of benefits to baking soda toothpaste…”
Another approach is to change the importance of beliefs, rather than the beliefs themselves.
But manipulating beliefs either through reinforcement or undermining is easier and more likely to succeed than attempting a change.
Ex: cereals brands will highlight how they contain x, y z vitamins. They will talk about the positive side of the product, not the negative one.
Regardless of what technique you use, your prospects must remain unaware that you’re attempting to influence them. You want them to think they’ve made their own decision.
You do it by removing your prospects’ need for cognitive (critical) thinking, like the following technique.
Principle 9: The Elaboration Likelihood Model—Adjust Their Attitude
There are two routes to attitude change:
- The central route: use facts, evidence, stats, testimonials, case studies. Works better in the long term.
- The peripheral route: Persuading using the association of thoughts, images, colors, emotions.
The one you use depends on your product. If your product is important (insurance, a school, a car), you’ll take longer to decide and use logic. In that case, take the central route to advertise.
If you’re selling food, use the peripheral route.
Principle 10: The 6 Weapons of Influence—Shortcuts to Persuasion
- Comparison: If everyone is doing it, we want to do it too.
- Liking: You buy from people you like.
- Authority: You buy from people you trust.
- Reciprocation: when you receive something for free, you are compelled to give back.
- Commitment/consistency: The commitment/consistency cue says that if you take a stand on an issue, you must remain consistent with your beliefs. “Do you care about the environment? Then buy xyz”.
- Scarcity: We want what we cannot have.
Principle 11: Message Organization—Attaining Critical Clarity
Whatever the strength of the message, it must always be clear.
Principle 12: Examples vs. Statistics—And the Winner Is…
Examples, because they appeal to the emotional.
However, it also depends on your product. If you sell beer, forget about the facts.
Principle 13: Message Sideness—Dual-Role Persuasion
For example, Microsoft could say “the iPhone has revolutionized blablab, but now, it’s time to upgrade for something even better”.
Principle 14: Repetition and Redundancy—The Familiarity Factor
People don’t see your ad until you show it 7 times.
Principle 15: Rhetorical Questions—Interesting, Aren’t They?
It’s a statement disguised in a question.
“Aren’t you glad to use Windows? Don’t you wish everyone did the same?
Principle 16: Evidence—Quick! Sell Me the Facts!
Evidence can be facts, figures, testimonials, endorsements, research, charts, videos—you name it—as long as you, the advertiser, didn’t create it yourself.
Research concludes that evidence works, and works well.
Make sure you present your evidence in a clear and easy-to-grasp manner. Use feature colorful charts and graphs, and facts, figures, and quotes from respected intellectuals and professionals.
Principle 17: Heuristics—Serving Billions of Lazy Brains Daily
Heuristics is the science of making a decision based on acquiring knowledge. It reveals that humans think as little as possible because it takes energy.
This explains why long-copy works better than short copy. “If this is this long, whatever is written must be true”.
41 proven techniques to sell
Ad-Agency Secret #1: The Psychology of Simplicity
Use as few words as possible in as few sentences as possible with as few syllables as possible with as much meaning as possible.
Ex: John loves Mary VS John has a lot of affection for a nice girl he met some days ago called Mary.
Use the word “you” a lot and be super-specific.
Ad-Agency Secret #2: Bombard Your Readers With Benefits
Benefits ≠ features.
“The drill turns fast” is a feature “…so you can drill the wall easily” is a benefit.
Ad-Agency Secret #3: Put Your Biggest Benefit in Your Headline
Short headlines get a higher viewership, but a good long headline will be better than a small short one.
Ad-Agency Secret #4: Crank up the Scarcity
At the end of your copy, give some sort of deadline to incite buyers to make a move now.
Eg: supply limited.
Ad-Agency Secret #5: 22 Psychologically Potent Headline Starters
A headline should: (1) grab attention, and (2) motivate to keep reading.
There are four important qualities that a good headline may possess.
- Quick, easy way
To appeal to a consumer’s self-interest, simply write a headline that promises a personal benefit: whiter teeth, higher income, healthier body.
Here are the headline starters.
- FREE: “Free Book Shows You How to Write Sneaky Advertising That Practically Forces People to Send You Money!”
- NEW: “Powerful New Seminar Teaches Flea Marketers the Power of ‘Flea-Psych’ to Drive People Into a Buying Frenzy”
- AT LAST: “At Last…A Bakery That Uses Only Organic Sugar, Flour, Milk, and Eggs!”
- THIS: “This New Invention Stops Any Attacker in His Tracks Without a Gun, Knife, or Black Belt in Karate.”
- ANNOUNCING: “Announcing the Hottest New Sandwich Craze From Southern California: The Malibu Crust Pocket!”
- WARNING! “WARNING! Some Dog Groomers Wrap a Noose Around Your Dog’s Neck!”
- JUST RELEASED: “Just Released: Psychologist’s Study Reveals Little-Known Speaking Patterns That Immediately Put Rude Salespeople in Their Place.”
- NOW: “Now You Can Stop Any Attacker Without Guns, Knives, or a Black Belt in Karate.”
- HERE’S: “Here’s How a 95-Pound Granny Made a 275- Pound Psychopathic Killer Cry Like a Baby for its Rattle….”
- THESE: “These Three Very Italian Men Make a Pizza to Kill For.”
- WHICH OF: “Which of These Hot Bodies Would YOU Like to Show Off?”
- FINALLY: “Finally…a Self-Improvement Seminar That Moves, Empowers, and Transforms You for Life!”
- LOOK: “LOOK! Now You Can Buy Cotton Candy Machines at Wholesale Prices.”
- PRESENTING: “Presenting the Easiest Way Ever Developed to Learn the Piano.”
- INTRODUCING: “Introducing the Only Water Ice Stand in Philly that Uses Real Fresh Fruit.”
- HOW: “How to Sing Like an American Idol in 90 Days or Less—Guaranteed.”
- AMAZING: “Amazing New DVD Lowers Your Blood Pressure by Just Watching It!”
- DO YOU: “Do You Know How to Stop Vicious Dog Attacks with the Push of a Button?”
- WOULD YOU: “Would You Trade $2 for Our Famous Brick- Oven Pizza?”
- CAN YOU: “Can You Be Sure Your Child Won’t Get Kidnapped?”
- IF YOU: “If You Hate Cleaning Your Pool, This Ad Brings Good News!”
- STARTING TODAY: “Starting Today You Can Dance 97% Better…If You Follow These Rules.”
Ad-Agency Secret #6: 12 Ways to Lure Readers Into Your Copy
Let’s imagine the headline is
Just Released! Psychologist’s Study Reveals Little-Known Speaking Patterns That Immediately Put Rude Salespeople in Their Place.
Here are twelve ways for you to continue the headline.
- Continue the Thought in the Headline: “You know the rude salespeople we mean. The ones with the big mouths who don’t understand the word no. The ones who push and push and won’t leave you alone….”
- Ask a Question: “How would you handle yourself in a sticky situation like this?”
- Quote a Respected Authority: “According to communication psychologist R. Butler Sinclair, there’s no need for anyone to feel intimidated by the high-pressure tactics used by….”
- Give ’Em a Free Taste: “The next time you’re confronted by a pushy salesperson, do this: Wait until he is finished speaking. Then raise your left hand to your mouth and say, ‘You know, you really didn’t….’”
- Challenge Them to Prove It Works: “Here’s what we want you to do. Read pages 8 and 9 of this incredible new book—no more. Then go to the dealership with the reputation for the most obnoxious and belligerent….”
- Start With a Story of Skepticism: “When we first received the manuscript from the author, we were skeptical. But some of us in the editorial office actually tried some of Sinclair’s tricks, and we were absolutely blown away.”
- Tell What Others Are Saying (Bandwagon Effect): “Nobody hates obnoxious salespeople more than I do. So when I first saw the ad for this book I thought it was too good to be true. It is, in fact, the most powerful book I’ve ever read on dealing with rude coworkers, salespeople, and mothers-in-law.—Bob Manstreth, Philadelphia, Pa.”
- Play Reporter: “Philadelphia, PA—A New York psychologist has just released the findings of a seven-year study that explains how any man or woman can use the power of a new type of communication psychology to deal with obnoxious people.”
- Get Personal With You, You, You: “Have you ever been hassled by a salesperson who can’t take no for an answer? Do you hate when people push you around and manipulate you? Would you like to know a powerful new way to instantly put these obnoxious people in their place? A way that gives you the upper hand….”
- Tell a Dramatic Story: “According to communication psychologist R. Butler Sinclair, there’s no longer any need for anyone to feel intimidated by the high-pressure tactics used by….”
- Give Super-Detailed Specs: “This amazing new book—a hefty 8 1/2 × 11-inch leatherbound, hardcover beauty—is jam-packed with over 327 pages, 10 information-filled chapters, and 45 of the most effective new communication tools ever developed for….”
- Lure them with a Very Short First Sentence: “Don’t you hate it?” “It’s so annoying!” “It makes me sick.” “I can’t stand it!”
Ad-Agency Secret #7: 360 Degrees of Attention-Getting Power
Circular ads get more attention.
Ad-Agency Secret #8: The Reverse-Type Pitfall
Always print dark letters on a clear background (actually, it has been debunked since 2008).
Ad-Agency Secret #9: Crush Your Competition With Extreme Specificity
“We sell screws and fasteners” VS “We sell 12 types of screws, 15 types of nails and 4 types of fasteners in our 100 m2 shop”.
Ad-Agency Secret #10: The Famous Ogilvy Layout Principle
The top two-thirds of the ad is one big photograph. The remaining third of the ad consists of the headline (directly under the photo) and the sales copy beneath the headline.
You can also have 1/3 pic, and the rest headline + copy.
Don’t run pictures without putting captions under them. Put a brief selling message under every illustration you use.
Most people only read captions.
Ad-Agency Secret #11: The Psychology of Typefaces
Printed: always serif: Adobe Caslon, Adobe Garamond, ITC Stone Serif, and Janson Text 55 Roman, Baskerville, Century family, Caslon, Jenson, Courier, Clearface Black, Poynter Series, Franklin Gothic, Helvetica, Utopia, Times, Nimrod, Century Old Style, Interstate, Bureau Grotesque, Miller.
Online: always sans serif: Arial, MS Sans Serif, Courier, Verdana.
Ad-Agency Secret #12: Insist on the Pro-Design Difference
Get a professional design for your ad.
Ad-Agency Secret #13: The Power of Questions
Ask questions, it brings back focus.
Ad-Agency Secret #14: The “Granny Rule” of Direct Mail
Whenever you write, always write to one person – say, your grandma.
Write down all the benefits of your product.
Start your letter with a question. It’s an extremely effective device for getting people to read deeper.
The purpose of your first sentence and paragraph is to get people to read your second sentence and paragraph. And so on. Keep this in mind when you write so that your sentences flow smoothly into others.
Use AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
Ad-Agency Secret #15: The Psychology of “Social Proof”
Ad-Agency Secret #16: The Guillotine Principle
Put the pic of someone’s face smiling looking at the reader.
Ad-Agency Secret #17: Powerful Visual Adjective—The Easy Way to Boost the Power of Your Copy
Use powerful sensorial (5 senses) adjectives to describe your products.
Juicy Red Apples VS Mouth-watering, sugar-sweet, hand-picked apples!
Ad-Agency Secret #18: Directing Mental Movies
Increase the strength of the representations in your prospects’ brains.
You need to amplify the intensity of the five elements so that you create a concentrated internal experience with sufficient power to affect his or her behavior.
Unless you create sufficient internal representations in your prospects’ brains, you will insufficiently move them to mentally create their own IRs that ultimately cause them to buy.
Ad-Agency Secret #19: Battling Human Inertia
Make it as easy as possible for people to buy
Ad-Agency Secret #20: Establish Your Unique Selling Proposition
When people can’t distinguish you from your competition, they have no reason to prefer you.
Don’t be just a hardware store…be “The Hardware Superstore!”
Ad-Agency Secret #21: Buy Your Own Island
Buy half a page for your ad.
Ad-Agency Secret #22: Authority Positioning
Market yourself as an authority.
Ad-Agency Secret #24: Power Your Ads With Pictures
Ad-Agency Secret #25: Grab ’Em With Grabbers
Give free stuff.
Ad-Agency Secret #29: Editorial Energizers
Instead of writing an ad, write a newspaper article about what you can do, and the benefits.
In editorial ads, never sound too enthusiastic about what you’re selling. News reporting is supposed to be objective, so if you get too carried away, too “hypey,” you’ll blow the whole effect.
Ad-Agency Secret #30: The Coupon Persuader
Use coupon (this also has been debunked since when you are on sale, people don’t buy from you until you are on sale again).
Ad-Agency Secret #31: About emails
Don’t send more than one per week. Email opening rates depend on:
1. Familiar sender (use your name if they’ll recognize it).
2. Personal subject line (always include your recipient’s name).
3. Offer of interest (precision-target your market).
Ad-Agency Secret #32: Multi-page Your Way to Success
Repeat your message.
Ad-Agency Secret #33: Guarantees That Guarantee Higher Response
Offer guarantees, and possibilities to get refunded.
Ad-Agency Secret #38: The Psychology of Pricing
Don’t use prices that end up in 00. Use 75, 77, 95, 99 when you sell cheap stuff.
When you sell expensive and luxury stuff though, sell for 1 000 and not for 999.
Ad-Agency Secret #39: The Psychology of Color
Ad-Agency Secret #40: Wrap Your Ads in White
101 ways to increase sales
1. FORGET style—sell instead!
2. SCREAM “Free Information!”
3. WRITE short sentences and keep them reading.
4. USE short, simple words.
5. WRITE long copy.
6. BOIL it down; cut out the fluff!
7. STIR up desire by piling on the benefits.
8. SHOW what you’re selling—action shots are best.
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 to create mental movies.
13. SELL your product, not your competitor’s.
14. DON’T hold back, give them the full sell now!
15. ALWAYS include testimonials!
16. MAKE it ridiculously easy to act.
17. INCLUDE a response coupon to encourage action.
18. SET a deadline 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
9 Ways to Convey Value
1. SCREAM “Sale!”
2. GIVE them a coupon.
3. DIMINISH the price: “Less than a cup of coffee a day.”
4. EXPLAIN why the price is low: “Our boss ordered too many!”
5. AMORTIZE it: “Just $1.25 a day.”
6. BOOST the value: Tell what it’s worth, not only what it costs.
7. TELL how much others have paid (and we’re happy to do so!).
8. CREATE a sense of scarcity with deadlines.
9. EMPLOY psychological pricing.
11 Ways to Boost Coupon Returns
1. TELL them in the headline or subhead to return the coupon.
2. SAY “Buy 1 Get 1 Free!” instead of “50% Off.”
3. USE a big “FREE!” at the top of your ad.
4. TELL what the coupon brings; say it again inside the coupon itself.
5. SHOW what the coupon brings with a small photo or illustration.
6. USE a bold coupon border.
7. SET a hard (firm date) or soft deadline (“The First 100 People…”).
8. PROVIDE check-off boxes to get people involved.
9. SAY “Valuable Coupon” at the top.
10. GIVE sufficient room for fill-ins.
11. POINT to the coupon with bold arrows.
46-Point “Killer Ad” Checklist
Here’s a fast and easy way to help ensure your ads contain the ingredients for success. Check all that apply to your ad; the more, the better.
- Does it feature your product’s biggest benefit?
- Is it a real grabber? Does it elicit an emotional response?
- Does it use any of the 22 Psychologically Potent Headline Starters?
- Is it significantly larger than your body copy? Boldfaced too?
- Is it powerful enough to get people to read your body copy?
- Does it make some kind of offer?
- Is it authoritative, and not wimpy?
- Is the headline set in initial caps? ALL CAPS only if your headline is short—about four to five words or so.
- Is it in quotes? This can boost reading by 25%.
Body Copy: First Sentence
- Are you using one of the dozen body copy jump-starters?
- Does it naturally flow from the headline?
- Does it get right into the benefits for the reader, instead of bragging about your company?
- Does it almost force them to read the second sentence?
- Is you one of the first few words?
Body Copy: General
- Does it focus on how the reader will benefit?
- Does it tell your readers why they should buy from you, rather than from a competitor who offers the same product/service?
- If your product or service is exciting, does your ad sound exciting?
- Does it progress in a logical, methodical way?
- Get attention.
- Stimulate interest.
- Build desire.
- Offer proof.
- Ask for action.
- Are you trying to sell only one product at a time? (This is best, unless for furniture shops, for example).
- Do you use selling subheads to break up long copy blocks to make them easier on the eye?
- Is the copy colorful, sprinkled with power visual adjectives where appropriate?
- Is it believable? (Not overblown or ridiculous.)
- Is it respectful of the reader and not insulting to his or her intelligence?
- Is it emotional? Does it create emotion (positive or negative)?
- Do you use the principle of extreme specificity?
- Are your words, sentences, and paragraphs short? Simple words?
- Are your printed ads, sales letters, brochures, and such set in a serif typeface, such as Schoolbook? Is your Web copy set in a sans-serif typeface such as Arial or Verdana?
- Do you tell your readers what you want them to do in a super simple way?
- Clip this coupon.
- Bring it to our store by August 21.
- Save 50%.
- Do you outright ask for the sale?
- Did you set a deadline, if appropriate? (Most of the time it is!)
- If you have a lot of benefits to offer, do you list them in bullet or numbered form?
- Do you use testimonials? If you don’t have them, get them!
- Are your business name and phone number large and instantly noticeable?
- Did you include your logo? (Use it all the time—the more often people see it, the more brand equity it builds.
- Do you give directions, maps, or landmarks? (They may be more necessary than you think.)
- Did you key your ad to better track responses?
Layout and Design
- Did a professional designer produce your ad? (Not a layout person!)
- Is your headline big and bold?
- Is the headline broken at the right words? For example: Is the ad easy to read? Is there a focus? (The eye should naturally be pulled to certain areas first, not jump around.)
- Is there sufficient white space? Did you wrap it in white?
- Did you indent your paragraphs? This makes reading easier.
- Is the number of separate elements kept to a minimum? (Don’t have a million little tint blocks with type, three bursts, two blocks of bullets, a corner flag, and four reverse-type panels!)
- Do you use art (photos or illustrations) relevant to your sales message? (Please, no babies for steel-belted tire ads!)
- Did you use a minimum number of typestyles? (One or two; three max! Unless a professional designer recommends it in a unique situation.)
- Do you feature a picture of a person looking at you? (It’s one of the most powerful ways to grab people’s attention.)
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