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Driving Up Response with Great Booklet Titles

Using GREAT Booklet titles is Key in Driving Response.

There comes a time in every ad where the reader must respond or the ad fails. At least, that’s the way my clients look at it: “If no one responds, Dobkin, why the heck did we pay you all this money to create this ad?” Can’t blame them. It’s one thing to look good in an ad; and magazines can babble-on about “branding” and “CRM,” but if the phone doesn’t ring, I feel it’s a waste of money. So all my ads are created by the rules of direct marketing: specifically to generate a response.
Most likely it’s a phone call.

To create reader movement the ad must overcome the powerful law of reader inertia: a body at rest tends to stay at rest. There must be an overpowering, driving force to compel the reader into action. The easiest way to accomplish this is to offer something FREE.

My favorite way of encouraging reader response is to offer a FREE BOOKLET.

Booklets are cheap to produce and can be directed at a specific want or need. OK, so a FREE BOOKLET isn’t the Cartier watch your readers thought they were going to get when they noticed the word FREE in the ad (remember to always set “FREE” in all caps – eye candy I call it – to make it stand out from the rest of the line). But the word “FREE” gets the attention of even the stingiest of readers.

Then the booklet title makes them pick up the phone by giving readers a reason to call. The better the title, the stronger the reason to call and the stronger the drive to get them to the phone.

Asking readers to call for a free booklet offers what I refer to as a “non-threatening reason to call.”

For readers with any fear of the telephone, for people who don’t know what to say when they pick up the phone to call a stranger, for the intimidated who think death is better than getting a salesperson on the phone who may try to sell them something, being able to ask for a free booklet is manna from heaven – and one of the best ways to maximize call-in response. “Oh, I’ll just call them and ask for this FREE booklet!” And here’s the huge benefit for you: response by telephone is the easiest way for advertisers to instantly get additional information about their audience. BTW, it’s also one of the best ways to sell a person something. Heh heh heh.

When someone calls me and asks for a free booklet, the last thing I do is get his name and address so that I can send him a free booklet. That’s the last thing I do. The first thing I do is ask a few quick, prying and fiendishly penetrating questions so that I can qualify him as a suspect, a prospect, or someone with a phone next to his desk and a few moments of free time while waiting for his lunch to arrive.

Ask callers probing questions, such as “Oh, were you in the market for one of these?” “When were you thinking of buying one?” and “What color did you like the best?” When people call for something they’re getting for free they’re generally more than willing to answer a few questions – they wouldn’t want to jeopardize their free gift by not responding to your brief interview, would they? Since they’re getting something free, they’re usually in a happy and receptive mood… after all, they’re getting something for FREE.

The real value of offering a free booklet is to make your phone ring. And know what? When your phone rings, the ad worked. Period. It’s not the job of the ad to sell anything – the sole job of the ad was to make the phone ring. Yes, it’s all over for the ad – it did all you asked it to, and its objective is now completely fulfilled when the phone rang. With its mission accomplished, the ad can do no more. It’s your turn now.

The ball is back in your court: to figure out how to turn the person on the phone into a buyer. Over the years I’ve had many clients who have said “Yes, the phone was ringing off the hook, but the ad was a failure – not one person bought anything.” If the phone was ringing off the hook, the ad worked – the problem was somewhere else in the marketing program. But… that’s another article.

Offering Booklets Instead of Brochures

If you said in your ad or direct mail package that you’re giving away a brochure, people think “so what – everybody gives away their brochure.” It’s true – just go into any car dealership and, if you have a wood burning stove, you can come home with enough brochures to keep your house heated for an Alaskan winter.

With a little bit of forethought you can transform your brochure into an informative booklet. At worst, design your brochure to fold in half – making an 8-1/2” x 11” sheet into a 5-1/2” x 8-1/2” four pager you can safely call a “booklet.” That same single sheet paper when it was unfolded paper was once called a flyer. When it was folded in thirds, it was called a brochure. Now folded in half and voila, now you have an “incredibly valuable booklet.” For additional credibility, add one more sheet folded the same way and nested inside. Now, you definitely have a booklet, and no one can argue.

Creating “Drive-Them-Nuts” Content

The drive to make readers call can come from 2 directions: pitching the content or pitching the title. Both are similar – so your assignment is to create the most compelling set of words to make the reader call. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

When pitching content for your literature, can you think of 10 questions that everyone in your market or industry will drive 40 miles to get the answers to? Write them down, then use the top 3 or 4 in your ad. Here’s an example of a few burning questions that will drive people to the phone: “Find out 3 ways to get home with an 8-foot table and a 6-foot car trunk. Call now for our FREE Booklet on Car Tricks” Our FREE Booklet also includes “Flat tire and no spare? How to get home safely.” Plus, “The four ways gas stations cheat almost every customer at the pump – and how to avoid them!”

I’m talking about using questions so penetrating that if the reader throws out the magazine where your ad appeared, he’ll wake up in the middle of the night, go downstairs and dig it out of the trash so he can call you first thing in the morning to get your booklet. Now, that’s the kind of burning questions we’re looking for.

Stop Them Cold with a Promise, or an “I-Can’t-Believe-It” Title

The best way to make the phone ring is to paralyze people… with the title of a booklet that sounds so good they can’t possibly pass it up. It’s the title of the booklet that drives the reader crazy and makes sure he or she calls. Can you promise information so outstanding the reader just has to know it? “What to do: Flat tire and no spare? Call for our free booklet ‘How to get home quickly and safely.’ It’s FREE!” There is only one rule: your booklet title has to be great enough to make the phone ring consistently. Nope, not just “good” enough – it has to be great.

Using Titles to Limit Response to More Qualified Prospects

Tired of sending literature to everyone, and their mothers? Booklet titles can almost hand pick which readers will respond, thereby setting thresholds of prospect qualifications. The booklet title can throw a loose or tight qualification net, whatever you like, or whatever the product calls for. If your product is widely used, has good margins and your literature is a hard-hitting direct mail piece that pulls a 25% response, throw a loose net and invite everyone to call. Raise the bar if your product has low margins, your literature is expensive and your market limited to a few at the top.

An offer for a free booklet on “How to install a new roof!” is only of interest to people needing new roofs. So is a FREE booklet on “6 Major Considerations before You Buy a New Roof!” or “Selecting, Grading and Pricing a Shingle Roof for Your Home.” Voila – instant qualification. When the phone rings, the caller is looking for a new roof. A FREE booklet on “How to pack valuables for moving!” You guessed it – this free booklet is fascinating, but only to people thinking about moving. Save on literature costs by restricting your booklet title to the really interested, and your most likely purchasing candidates.

By the way – see the difference in reading: I’ve used the word FREE in this last paragraph four times, two in all capital letters and two in lower case. Notice how differently they are read? The “FREE” in capitals yells at you – it commands attention and makes you stop and notice it. The “free” in lower case blends into the rest of the copy and lets you continue to read without even a pause. In ad copy, always use FREE in all caps.

A Simple Way to Create Great Booklet Titles

The question finally arises, “Jeff, how do you consistently think up these compelling booklet titles?” You’re not going to like this: you follow the Jeff Dobkin hundred-to-one rule: “Write 100 booklet titles, then go back and pick out your best one.” Yep. Same rule applies to coming up with intriguing questions about the content: write 100 questions, go back and pick out your best 3. Hey, I didn’t say it would be easy, I just said it would be simple. It’s simple, and effective.

Yes, it’s a little more work to write 100 titles, but the real question is this: Do you want the absolute best return on your advertising dollar? Is the objective of your ad to compel the most people you possibly can to pick up the phone and call? Offering a FREE Booklet can do just that. And it’s cheaper to spend the extra hour or two writing a better headline or booklet title than placing ads or sending a direct mail campaign and getting only half the response you could be receiving. Isn’t it?