I’m going to start the ad review with one of the all-time great direct response lead generation ads.
Take one look at this exercise bike (called the ROM, which stands for Range of Motion).
You know there’s no way in the world this friggn’ time-machine looking contraption can possibly do what it claims.
It looks ridiculous…impractical… intimidating…and complicated.
And it costs a whopping $14,615. That’s about 20 years’ worth of gym memberships!
And then there’s the outrageous claim…
“Exercise in only 4 minutes.”
Four minutes! “Yeah right,” blasts the voice in your head.
Common sense and logic dictate you shouldn’t even take a second look at this ad. Yet…
…Versions of this ad have been running in magazines (including Robb Report, Forbes, Fortune, etc.) for years.
Obviously, it’s getting customers to buy.
And any ad that can sell this device–is a great direct response ad.
There are a ton of powerful marketing lessons to learn from this ad.
…Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page as to exactly what this ad does.
This is a Lead Generation ad. Its sole purpose is to capture a person’s name and address so the ROM company can send more information about this bike to the prospect.
In other words, the ROM company doesn’t expect to actually sell the bike form this ad. They just want the opportunity to continue the sales process.
This ad is the first step in a 2-step campaign.
Step two will be more information about the product. In this case, ROM sends out a DVD to everyone who responds to the ad.
You see, when you’re selling an expensive or complex product or service, where a prospect may have lots of questions and needs lots of facts to make a buying decision, there’s no way you can write everything you need to in a small ad.
Instead, what you could do, is…
Create an intriguing ad to capture a prospect’s attention and give enough information to get the reader to provide a name and address (and sometimes phone number).
Your goal in a lead generation ad is to get the reader to request more information about the product/service.
By using a two-step sales process, you capture a qualified lead (only people truly interested in ordering this bike are going to request more information).
And you get the opportunity to deliver a great sales pitch in their follow-up information you send out.
OK, now that you know the basics about lead generation ads and a simple two-step sales process… let’s look at what makes this ad so great at generating leads for an outrageous (and outrageously priced) exercise bike…
First…the headline. It’s outrageous. It makes you stop dead in your tracks.
“Exercise in only 4 minutes?”
Really? Is it possible? Can this finally be the exercise that will help me lose weight?
Instinctively, you know it takes longer than 4 minutes to lose weight.
Every bone and fat cell in your body tells you it takes longer than 4 minutes to burn fat. Yet…
The bold headline combined with the photo of the exercise machine (similar to other exercise bikes, yet very different looking… different enough to get your attention) makes you read on.
Then, right underneath the headline, is the subhead…
“Winner of the Popular Science Award for
the ‘Best of What’s New’ in Leisure Products.”
This is an important line because it adds instant credibility to the product. After all, it can’t be a total scam if it won a Popular Science Award. But here’s the thing…
I have no clue what the heck the Popular Science Award is… and neither does anyone else reading the ad.
It can be a legit organization that thoroughly tested the bike, or some tiny little operation with absolutely no credibility. The fact that the ROM won the award is all that matters right now.
When someone’s reading an ad like this, they won’t question it too much. Remember, this ad is not trying to get someone to pull out a credit card and buy the bike. So, at this point, a reader won’t be too critical of all the claims.
The ad also uses the “Best of What’s New” indicia to help sell home the point the ROM won an award. Makes the award (and the ad) look a bit more official.
It’s also a nice little eye-catcher. Just enough to catch someone’s attention as they flip through a magazine. And, of course, the other item that catches EVERYONE’S attention is…
…The $14,615 price tag. Normally, you don’t put a price on a lead generation ad. But ROM does include the price for two very good reasons:
1) The high price immediately sets the ROM apart
from all other exercise bikes. Obviously, at this price,
the ROM is the top of the line. It’s exclusively for
those who only want the best.
2) The high price eliminates all the tire kickers who
can’t afford the bike. ROM doesn’t want to waste time
sending out DVDs or talking with anyone who doesn’t
have the money to buy the bike. So, only qualified
buyers are going to request for more information.
So, the very top of the ad has four separate elements…
• Eye-catching headline
• Subhead that lends credibility
• Official-looking indicia
• Extremely high price
These four elements quickly let the reader of the ad know this bike is different and exclusive.
Those readers who are truly interested in owning this bike will continue reading. And the first thing they’ll see is the photo of the exercise bike. It looks different than any other exercise bike. And you begin to think, “Hmm… maybe it’s worth the money…”
Immediately underneath the photo of the bike, you see
“MANUFACTURED IN CALIFORNIA SINCE 1990.”
I’m not sure how important this is anymore. Maybe when they first started running these ads, “Made in the USA” was popular, and they tried to capitalize on that sentiment. But today, not sure it adds to the sales argument.
I would put a much stronger line, possibly stating a benefit of owning and using the bike. According to the website, the ROM has been tested and reviewed in quite a few medical journals.
It would be easy to use a caption like “Six published health studies PROVE the ROM reduces body fat and increase cardio endurance in only 4 minutes a day!” Or something like that.
Or, if you want the caption to build on the social proof and popularity of the ROM, you can say something like “As seen in Esquire Magazine, L.A. business Journal, Vanity Fair, Fortune, Newsmax, Outside, Time, Vogue, and Popular Science.”
As you can see, even before we get to the actually copy for the ad, there’s a TON of selling going on. As for the advertising copy…
…It starts with some impressive facts and statistics about lack of time and exercise. Many people reading the ad can probably identify with not using the exercise equipment they own or missing sessions at the gym.
So, right off the bat, the reader can start nodding in agreement with what the ad is saying.
And then a really good stat and proof of the value of the ROM,
“Over 97% of people who rent our ROM for 30 days wind up
purchasing it based upon the health benefits
experienced during that tryout.”
This is a STRONG line for many reasons…
First, no way in the world would 97% of people plunk down $14,615 for something that doesn’t work.
Since these people tried it out for 30 days, it “proves” it works. After all, who better to convince you the ROM works than people who were in your shoes and tried it before they bought it?
And, the reason they bought it is: “the health benefits experienced.”
This takes out any guesswork a reader may have. NEVER assume the reader of your advertising knows what you’re talking about.
And never miss an opportunity to remind them of the benefits of your product. This one line in the ad does both in a subtle, but convincing, way.
Another great line in the ad is:
“At under 20 cents per use, the 4 minute ROM exercise is
the least expensive full body complete exercise a person can do.”
WHEW! That line is PACKED with benefits. And it also addresses the cost issue.
You see, anybody who buys this bike, is likely to buy it because he or she is the type of person who wants the best in class. They buy expensive cars, expensive clothing and expensive homes. Emotionally, they WANT the nice and expensive stuff.
However, they justify these expensive purchases (no matter how outrageous they are) with rational facts. So now, they can justify the outrageous price tag by saying, “But look what a smart and prudent purchase this is. It only costs 20 cents per use.”
You and I know this line of reasoning is a crock. But it gives the purchaser something to ease the rational side of their mind (and give them amo to use when their spouse sees the credit card statement).
So, when you’re selling, always appeal to someone’s emotions first… but make sure to include rational reasons someone needs your product or service.
The ad also goes on to continue using very specific facts and numbers on who buys the ROM and how durable and dependable it is.
And the ad ends by telling the reader all the maladies the ROM can help cure, from blood sugar imbalance to bad backs and shoulders. Is there anything this wonder machine can’t fix?
And finally, probably the most brilliant copy and sales strategy in the ad is the box on the lower right hand side:
“The typical ROM purchaser goes through several stages”
This lets the reader know he’s not alone in thinking what he or she is thinking. Many others before them have gone through the same emotions and indecision as to whether to pursue purchasing the ROM.
And it lets the reader know the ROM company understands exactly what they’re feeling and that they deal with this all the time.
In fact, they’re normal in thinking this way. That’s what a BUYER of the ROM should think.
And the best point of the ten is the first one,
“Total disbelief that the ROM can do all this in only 4 minutes.”
Many advertisers would shy away from the claim of incredible health benefits in only 4 minutes. But the ROM company addresses it head on. They’re not only admitting their claim is unbelievable. They’re telling you, you should question the claim as well!
This is a brilliant strategy as it lets the reader know he or she is not alone. And, at the same time, it gives the ROM company the opportunity to prove their case.
And the second point, builds on the first, and let’s you know, everyone around you is going to think you’re nuts for even considering buying the ROM.
In fact, they flat out tell you, “Be prepared to be ridiculed when you buy this bike.” Again, this puts the reader (and potential buyer) at ease letting them know, “Hey, it’s OK, everyone of our smart buyers goes through this. It’s typical.”
But as the list goes on, it slowly convinces you that the ROM is worth the money and is the miracle exercise machine it claims to be.
You see, the first few bullets get you to agree with them on the obvious stuff. That is, this bike is weird and I’ll be laughed at. That’s easy for a read to buy into and agree with.
And then there’s bullet number three. another brilliant piece of ad copy, “Reading the ROM literature and reluctantly understanding it.”
The key word is “reluctantly.” Because that’s just how the typical reader reacts. They say to themselves, “I’ll be damned, as weird and as outrageous as all this sounds, it actually makes sense.”
Bullet number five tells the reader he’ll be so impressed with the results during his 30 day trial, that he’ll purchase the damn bike.
The ad is slowly making subtle claims of the amazing experience the buyer will have with the bike.
And bullet number 8 builds on it by telling you all your friends, who once ridiculed you for buying a $14,000 bike from a direct response ad, are now complimenting you on your great shape!
See how easy the advertising copy makes it for you to visualize your future results and how great you’ll look?
And bullet number 10 will probably put a smile on your face as it tells you the same people who ridiculed you will eventually buy the bike too, after they see how happy you are with it.
And the ad gives you two different ways to order your free DVD. It also lists a physical address (assumingly, the company headquarters). By including a real address, the company appears more real.
Also, the ad lets you know you can rent the ROM for 30 days. This is a great strategy, as it lets you know you don’t have to commit to buying it. You can try before you buy.
So now, instead of thinking, “I have to shell out over $14,000 to try this,” it gets you thinking, “Hmmm…I can rent it for a little while. That will be cheaper and safer than buying.”
There’s a reason this ad has been running for many years. It works. It gets people to request the free CD. And a portion of those who request the CD, will purchase the bike.
I actually remember the very first time I saw this ad. I was very young. Had no interest in buying any exercise bike, but read every word of it. It’s a masterful job of sales persuasion.
OK, so, how can you use what you just learned
from this review in YOUR advertising? Let’s see…
First of all, if you have a product or service that is
totally unlike your competitors, think about making
that one of the major selling features. Just like the ROM
does, come out and tell people, “Of course this looks
different. That’s because, in order to get the
amazing results above and beyond everything
else offered, we had to make it different. If we
made it look like everything else, it would
perform like everything else. But we made
a major breakthrough.”
Second, Don’t be afraid to tell people something negative
about your product or service. The ROM does this by letting
the reader know they’ll be ridiculed by others. By admitting
a weakness or flaw in your product or service, it gives you
the opportunity to address it and turn it into a positive.
People aren’t idiots. If there’s a flaw in your product or
service, they’ll sniff it out. Especially those serious about
buying. Buyers are the ones that read every word of your ad.
Buyers will question every claim you make. And buyers will
see what you’re leaving out. And if you leave something out of
your sales pitch, a potential buyer will assume you’re leaving
it out because you’re covering or hiding a flaw in your
product or service.
Third, show the reader the results he or she will experience
when using your product or service. Show them how fun or
easy or healthy or profitable their future will be due to the
amazing effects of your product or service.
Fourth, if your product is very expensive compared to
competitor’s products, see if there’s a way to get your product
into the hands of potential buyers with a short-term trial. ROM
does this with their 30-day rental. And ROM lets the renter know,
if they buy after they rent, the full rental price will be used toward
the purchase, so the rental money doesn’t go to waste.
OK, that’s my first ad review.
What do you think?
Let me know what you liked and didn’t like.
Also, feel free to tell me what you’d like to see me review in this blog.
If you want to check out the ROM, go to the company’s website at: www.FastExercise.com
Recently, the ROM company has been running quite a few ads. As I collect them I’ll scan them in and post them here so you can see the other strategies and executions they’re using to sell the ROM.