Judgment Day – Great Advertising, Not so Great Product..

Do you remember way back in 2011 when a chap called Harold Campling declared the world was going to end on May 21st? Read about it here if you haven’t. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your thoughts about it), he was completely wrong.

So what’s the marketing message here?

Think about this, you’re driving down the road when a billboard catches your eye – “JUDGMENT DAY!” it screams at you. (Billboard here)

Uhh Judgment Day? Now, you probably missed the billboard for the guy running for local office; and the 12 billboards for hotels, motels and gas stations; and even the billboard advertising pepsi cola etc, so why did the words “Judgment Day” grab your attention? Because it’s a good headline.

Not great, maybe, but certainly surprising enough and riveting enough to make you want to read more.

Think for a moment about the last headline you wrote – did it grab attention or put your reader to sleep? If it doesn’t rivet the eyeballs then change it.

Next we see a date. A DATE! Now this is gutsy – actually predicting the very day the world as we know it will end. It’s also a bit bonkers, but again, we’re still riveted. Why? Because it’s specific. A sign that simply reads, “The End is Near” isn’t even worth a yawn, much less another second of your time. But a flat out specific date, now that’s measurable.

Look at the difference between these two headlines:

Increase Your Website’s Traffic
Get At Least 1,000 More Visitors To Your Website Each and Every Day

Which one is a vague abstraction and which one can you sink your teeth into? Which one is more believable?

If the headline says you can increase your opt-ins, your skepticism is high. But if it says you can increase your opt-ins by 33%, now we’re starting to believe – and we keep reading on because it’s caught our attention.

So if your headline isn’t promising something specific, you just might want to rewrite it so it is…

But of course the world ending on May 21st is a bit hard to swallow, now isn’t it? That’s why the last bit is pure genius – “The Bible Guarantees It.” Heck, it’s even written in one of those gold guarantee symbols. Wow – the BIBLE says so? In fact, the bible GUARANTEES it? Now we really want to know more about what is going to happen…

This last ingredient is “authority.” For many people, especially in the United States, the bible is a definite authority. So what authority are you incorporating into your marketing message? For example, if you’ve got a testimonial from a well-known person, are you putting it at or near the very top of your sales letters and videos? If not, you might want to place it where it can’t be missed and split test to see how much of an increase in sales it means for you.

BONUS: If your product and / or marketing message is just controversial enough, unusual enough or crazy enough, you can get MASSIVE free publicity, too, just as the Judgment Day campaign received.

Bottom line: Even the strangest product can be sold to the right market IF you’ve got the right message. Be sure your headline captures attention and uses specificity, back up your claim with third party authority, and you can sell just about anything.

One last thought: Unlike the advertising campaign we just mentioned, people may not sell all of their worldly possessions and send you the cash. Then again, it’s difficult to make back end sales or repeat sales to people you just royally screwed, so please don’t do that to them or face the consequences…




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