Promise, Picture, Proof, Push.
It’s a much better, more, – ahem – actionable alternative to the classic AIDA. Who the heck ever understood how to write for interest rather than desire (or the other way around) anyway? I came across this model once, back in the 90s in an old DM guide published by the Dutch postal services. And passed it along to junior copywriters as my career proceeded. As a kind of secret formula known only to a select few. Now Glenn Fisher’s The Art of The Click finally brings it back for a new, digital generation of copywriters. He does so in his remarkable book The Art Of The Click.
Remarkable, for a number of reasons. See, I love great advertising copy. Be it inspirational or transactional: any smart use of words that works is awesome as far as I’m concerned. I also love reading books in general. And of course every writer should read more than they write. Otherwise you’ll end up your own biggest influence. But reading books ABOUT copywriting … that’s not something I’m that fond of. Of course I devoured Ogilvy on Advertising, Tested Advertising Methods and poured over The Copy Book as a junior writer. But few other attempts have been anywhere near as enlightening.
Those throwing Caples on the bonfire are doomed to repeat his a/b tests from the 1950s.
It seems like the main force behind many recent books on copywriting is frustration. A senior writer is fed up with clients, accounts people and art directors just not getting it. So he’ll show them. He’ll tell the world just how important copy still is. Why the thing the client always wants is wrong. Why the lines the strategist writes suck. And he’ll do so in well-written, pedantic prose that underscores that he can write very, very well indeed. Therapeutic? Possibly. Inspiring? Hardly.
I imagine you’re wondering where Glenn Fisher’s The Art of The Click fits into all of this. Spoiler alert: this is a blog about what inspires me, not a book review site. So I’m here to tell you Fisher has done something quite different. He’s written a book that bridges the gap between old-school direct response smarts and the modern digital world. Two worlds that have much in common. But have been separate for a long time, due to digital’s insistence on a Year Zero narrative: The Old Rules Don’t Apply Anymore.
Of course, it’s a narrative most enthusiastically embraced by those who never bothered to learn the old rules in the first place. It’s like the school burning down, giving you another chance to pass the test! In reality, those throwing Caples on the bonfire are doomed to repeat his a/b tests from the 1950s. Much better to see classic direct mail as an early prototype for online marketing. Pointing towards many of the mechanisms and pitfalls that make digital marketing work or fail today. And that is very much what The Art of The Click is about: making consumers click and buy in today’s digital environment.
Fisher shows that no, people don’t read testimonials. And yes, testimonials do increase clicks and sales.
One great example is the good old testimonial. “They laughed when I sat down at the piano …” was perhaps the most famously effective direct response ad of all time, and it was built around a testimonial. But do people today still read them? To use a highly effective phrase from this century: the answer may suprise you. Based on heatmapping software and tests, Fisher shows that no, people don’t read testimonials. And yes, testimonials do increase clicks and sales. Simply by being there. It’s insights like these that make direct response so fascinating.
So do we finally have a new book to add to the shelf marked ‘indispensable copywriter’s bibles’? Fisher has me nodding yes. But then, he does explain in the book how to get that reaction. One more reason to pick up a copy, I’d say.