On the train into London this week, an advert was staring me in the face. It was by Unicef, asking me to donate £3 to buy a blanket to keep a child warm this winter.

Are they a charity that specialises in blankets? No. They do lots of things.

But they didn’t say: “Give us some money and we’ll do some good with it”; they were specific about how much money, what it would be spent on and why.

When you take out an ad (or give a one-minute speech at a networking event), it’s tempting to try to include everything you do, for fear of missing something out. But it’s much more powerful to pick just one thing, and focus on that.

For example, I wrote a doordrop leaflet for a painter/decorator that increased responses from 1% to 4%, simply by using this technique. Instead of listing everything he did, I picked one main thing as the main headline, and included everything else as bullet points further down the page.

The Unicef ad also had a black-and-white picture of a teary-eyed child. Eye contact is extremely powerful imagery that humans are programmed not to ignore (it doesn’t have to be children, things like puppies or kittens work just as well).

The objective of an ad is (a) to get noticed (b) to get a response. Pick one stand-out element to make yours work for you – and let me know if you need any help.

I originally wrote this article for Fresh Business Thinking

Skip to content