A Simple Zero-Cost Marketing Fix

Content was originally published on Inc.com on July 26, 2017. 

Think for a moment about how much money you spend on digital and print ads. If you’re like many of our business coaching clients your ad spend may total up to 10 percent of revenue. Yet what if you’re wasting a massive portion of that money?

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Here is a simple principle that is guaranteed to make all your marketing more powerful: Lead with your most compelling, gripping, or attention grabbing headline. In journalism they say, “Don’t bury the lead” which is an admonition to put your best, most important point first because you never know if they’ll read any further.

You’ve seen this done wrong. You visit a website and the top “hero” section of the page is filled is poorly designed navigation menus or generic company information. You open a direct mail piece or email but don’t see the relevance to you and your life within the first paragraph (or headline or subject line!) and just put it in your trash. You see an ad in a magazine or billboard but just ignore it because there is nothing about it that speaks to your main concerns in life.

Yet each of these marketing tools cost some company a lot of money to get into you and your fellow market’s hands. Money, time, and opportunity that was lost forever because the sender never got your attention by leading with their most compelling or relevant “punch” first.

This is why I’m coaching you that before you complete or approve any ad, digital or print, you ask yourself, “From the perspective of my target audience, what is the single biggest pain point, desired benefit, or more compelling messaging point that I want to share?” And then you must lead with that as your headline.

Don’t make your audience wade through an ill-formed message to find your key point; share it with them up front.

For example, rather than lead with, “For over 42 years Jack’s Plumbing has served the local community and is known for its quality and service…

Instead try:

Burst pipes?

Our highly trained emergency technicians

are standing by 24-7…

This is such a simple principle, but so commonly ignored. Now that I’ve pointed it out you’ll see it everywhere.

Just this past month I was helping one of our business coaching clients, a successful multi-million dollar law firm, deal with one of their key constraints to growth – the need to hire more legal staff to handle their growing demand. The problem was, they just weren’t getting a strong response to their job ad. I reviewed their job ad and saw that it was just a typical, plain vanilla “help wanted” ad which read:

Local law firm seeks experienced legal assistant M-F 9:00-6:00…

When I asked them what the most compelling thing that a great paralegal for their firm would want they said a stable work environment.

Well,” I said, “why don’t you lead off with that in your ad?” So they made that change to “Stable, 20 year law firm looking for skilled paralegal…” They found their key hire two weeks later.

Remember, attention spans have shrunk and the noise of the marketplace has increased exponentially. You’ve got just seconds to grab your audience’s attention so put your most powerful punch first.

If you enjoyed the ideas I shared, then I encourage you to download a free copy of my newest book, Build a Business, Not a Job. Click here for full details and to get your complimentary copy.



Keywords: executive coaching, business coaching, business coaching program, build a business not a job, grow your business, negotiation


Business David is a Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestselling author of 11 business and financial books. A syndicated columnist for Inc.com and HuffingtonPost.com, David’s articles have appeared in over 6,500 publications. As the founder and CEO of Maui Mastermind®, David has worked with 100,000+ business coaching clients and community members to buy, build, and sell over $5 billion of businesses.