This way to the dermatologist —> (The Tao of headlines)

When I was a kid, my family took one or two long trips to Florida — by car. We drove from The Bronx to Florida, and I loved it.

It was my first time getting far out of the city, and it was interesting meeting people from new places. Funny but one of the first things you notice is that you think people are going to be different, and they aren’t. Maybe how they sound is different, or the things they regularly eat may be different, or maybe they have college team logos on their baseball caps instead of pro teams, but basically, we’re all the same.

And of course, from a marketing standpoint, this is great. Because if we had to figure out 8 million different ways of speaking to people, instead of let’s say, “eight…”, frankly we’d be screwed.

One of the things I enjoyed most about those trips were the billboards you see for a tourist place called “South Of The Border.” South Of The Border is a tourist destination just south of the North Carolina/South Carolina Border.

You start seeing these billboards literally hundreds of miles away, and they talk about a character called “Pedro,” who you can meet at SOTB.

The suspense and curiosity on the billboards is really exciting, and I’d bet few people can resist at least pulling over and spending a few bucks on trinkets at SOTB.

But billboard advertising is one of the most expensive and most wasted sources of advertising dollars around. If you think people screw up display ads and direct mail — that’s nothing compared to how they screw up billboards.

For instance, not far from me is a billboard with today’s subject line on it, as a headline. Yes, it actually says, “<--- This way to the dermatologist." Then there's a picture of presumably, the doctor himself. (Did you know, apparently it's NOT a problem if you run around calling yourself a doctor even if you aren't one -- at least here in Florida, anyway? A police officer recently told me this. I had no idea! I think there's only a problem if you start acting like a doctor and prescribing treatments, but if you're a landscaper and call yourself a doctor, it's not illegal! This was surprising.) Anyway, of course this billboard is a complete waste, and unless someone's driving buy this billboard and they happened to wake up that morning with a zit on their face the size of a golf ball, or if their untreated eczema is killing them, then MAYBE they'll go "That way" to the dermatologist, but otherwise, this billboard is ultimately probably a $6 or 7 thousand dollar a month waste. That's a lot of zits the doctor's going to have to burst to pay for this ad, isn't it? The reason it's so ineffective is because it violates the two rules of headline "musts" -- your headline must either provoke curiosity or promise reward. And since the definition of a good headline is simply "a believable promise to the right audience" -- it also violates the "right audience" rule as well. Cars driving south isn't necessarily the right audience, and even if it was the right audience, you'd be far better off using direct mail to engage them at a much more intimate level. So keep these rules in mind and if you have any questions, then... Just ask Pedro... Now go sell something, Craig Garber P.S. Bonus Audio Now Available! Want a TON of other ways to engage your prospects? Check out "22 Ways To Completely Eliminate ALL Your Marketing Headaches... Right NOW! - now comes with a bonus audio so you're getting close to 3 HOURS of recorded material! Find it at today.

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About the Author

Craig GarberAuthor of "How To Make Maximum Money With Minimum Customers, " and publisher of Seductive Selling - an offline marketing newsletter currently read in 15 countries, world-wide. In a nutshell, I do two things: 1. I show you how to attract a reliable, steady stream of pre-qualified leads who are ready to do business with you NOW... 2. And I increase your net profits and cash-flow, by increasing your customer, client, or patient value -- often, dramatically. How do I do this? By developing, and helping you implement, unique, personalized lead generation and marketing strategies... using compelling sales messages that push your customers emotional buy-buttons. I've worked with over 300 clients in more than 104 different industries, since March of 2000, and I really enjoy what I do. I'm a stable, reliable, happily married family guy with three kids who loves life and always follows through on my commitments and promises. I love to listen to music, workout, read, travel with my family, take pictures, and go bass fishing. I always say "Yes," when it comes to good cigars, good books, and good coffee :-)