Scientific Advertising Overview Chapters 5 to 10


Chapter 5 – Headlines

Headlines are the most important part of your ad whether it is a salesletter, print ad, yellow page ad, or even a Google AdWords ad – the headline is the ad for the ad. If it doesn’t get the attention of the reader, then it doesn’t matter how good the rest of the ad is or even how great of funeral home you are – you have failed to get that person’s attention.

Too many funeral home ads start with the funeral home name, logo or building at the very top of the ad – and as we have learned from the previous chapters, we need to relate the ad to the reader and not to us.

Headlines were so important for Hopkins that when they did their ad tracking, they also recorded the headline – and this is in the day of ledgers – no Excel spreadsheets to track things – but even though it had to be done manually it was worth it because it was so valuable.

I’ll stop talking now about headlines and let you listen to Hopkins proclaim their importance – just remember the headline is the ad for the ad.

Chapter 6 – Psychology

In this Chapter, Hopkins flies up to the 30,000 foot level and talks about Psychology and human behaviour which hasn’t really changed in 100 years since the book, and as Hopkins says it hasn’t changed since the time of Caesar.

He is a big believer in using Curiosity in his ads, especially his headlines. Do your ads make the readers curious to find out more – or do they make the reader say “So What” or “Who Cares” or “Don’t All Funeral Homes offer that”? The first step of making a headline curious to the reader is to make sure it talks “to them” and not “about you”.

Hopkins also states that people want bargains and not cheapness. I equated bargains with value seekers – people don’t want to think that they over-paid for something, but they also don’t want the absolute cheapest either. As we know not every price shopper that you get on the phone wants the absolute, lowest cost – they just don’t want to get ripped off, they want value.

When Hopkins starts talking about free samples, think of your Estate or Funeral Planning guides – don’t just give them away at a trade show or fair, have them ask for it after they have read your ad and they know your story, this way they have shown a small step towards you and you have gained permission to advance to the next step – even if it is a small step with just the guide.

Chapter 7 – Being Specific

Hopkins starts the chapter with: “Platitudes and generalities roll off the human understanding like water from a duck.” What this means is that statements that some funeral homes say like, We provide the best service – are just too general and everyone can say that because it is so vague, it is really hard to prove or to measure – it’s not specific enough. But if you stated, We have the highest customer satisfaction rating with JD Power & Associates – 98.7 – off all funeral homes in the country – that is specific! Can you see how much more powerful that is than just “We provide great service.”

Hopkins goes further and says, if a company makes these huge, vague claims – we’re the best so of thing – it can actually hurt the company as anything else that the company says about themselves they will lead readers to discount all statements that are made.

Although the concept of the USP, unique selling position / proposition came after Hopkins, it core conception is based on the principles detailed in this chapter. If you don’t have your UPS or your Differentiation Statement – it’s time to start.

As a side note, this is the chapter that Hopkins shares the details of his Schlitz Beer campaign – probably his most famous work when he took this brewery from number five to number one.

Being specific can take many forms – review your current ads and try to tighten up anything that is general to being more specific, such as we have been in business for 88 years instead of saying over 80 years – and maybe even tie a historical reference to it – same year that President or Prime Minister so and so was elected.

Are there other things that you could be more specific about – and more importantly are there things that you can delete that are too general that might discredit you in the reader’s eyes.

Chapter 8 – Tell Your Full Story

This may seem a bit obvious but many funeral home owners just want to just to the case and get the call and others tell their story but in a way that is too much focused on the funeral home. When you are telling your story, tell it in a manner that identifies the benefits to the families. So when you built the crematorium, it wasn’t to add $XXX to the bottom line, but to provide convenience and peace of mind for the families that you serve that the cremation can take place quickly and within the security of your own facilities.

After crafting your full story and using it in your ads, you may get bored of it and have a desire to change it up – don’t! Just keep on perfecting it – and you know that you can do that now because you will be testing.

Chapter 9 – Art In Advertising

Right out of the gate in this chapter, Hopkins lays it out: Pictures in advertising are very expensive – and not because of the artwork or photography, but for the space that it uses. As mentioned before, could the words in the same space do a better job in selling than the picture does.

For example, in a print ad or yellow page ad, having a picture of the chapel or of the outside of the building, could be replace with just one line. “Our chapel holds 150 people and has the 80 inch TV to play the Tribute video.” That line told more than the picture would. If there was a picture of 80 people in your reception center eating food, drinking coffee and sharing memories – that is a lot more aligned to a benefit that family wants – and it would be harder to paint the picture in words and just using the picture itself.

Pictures of people – actual staff and owners – don’t use stock photos – are good because as I have said many times, people make arrangements with people. If you have a very trusting photograph, it says trust a lot better than the words, trust me.

Hopkins has more to say about art in ads, but one thing that is probably needing to be updated is that he mentions that color pictures don’t usually pay for the extra expense. Today, color printing is a lot less expensive than it was a century ago, but it cases that color is going to cost you more, maybe stay with black and white – but for that reception center food – color is probably better.

Chapter 10 – Things Too Costly

This is a chapter that you need to read – I see far too often funeral homes – sometimes who have been sold a new product by a vendor – change the public’s buying behavior. Trying to change an established behaviour can be very expensive. Hopkins has some great examples so I won’t go over them here, but consider this example: Buying flowers online is just one step removed from buying flowers from the florist – and it is more convenient. But buying virtual flowers for a virtual cemetery is too many steps away from the established buying behaviour.

When considering this adding a new product – especially a new technology – to your suite of product offerings – ask this question: “How easy will it be to have a non-technical funeral director convey the benefits of this new product to a grieving family?”

This isn’t to say that all new offerings are bad ideas – take the DVD Video Tribute or whatever you want to call it – but it has been fully accepted and now expected in most markets and usually is the star of the funeral and it makes you and your firm look good!

Hopkins also warns about advertising “prevention” and for us this could be in the same boat as preneed – depending on what angle you take. Since there are so many angles that could be taken, I can’t go into detail here but there may be a close relation to peace of mind and prevention and maybe another angle should be considered.


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