The 5 Elements of a Good Direct Response Ad

By: Bill Glazer on: September 28th, 2009 19 Comments

This is my quick checklist of ESSENTIAL Elements of a good direct response ad

1.) REASON FOR ADVERTISING other than your desire to get customers or sell something. BIG NEWS (other than announcing a new logo), BIG IDEA, a breakthrough solution to somebody’s problem. The biggest reason for advertising failure is advertising just because you need to advertise.

2.) ATTENTION-GETTING HEADLINE that telegraphs the news, the idea, the breakthrough…and”sells the ad.” The Headline’s first job is to compel the reader to stop whatever he’s doing – like reading the news in the newspaper- to, instead, shift his attention to your message.

3.) AS CLOSE TO AN ‘IRRESISTIBLE OFFERAS YOU CAN GET. Most ads have no offers or weak, dull, plain vanilla offers. You have no right to response when you offer little.


5.) DIRECT,CLEAR ‘CALL TO ACTION’ which connects #3 and #4 to INSTRUCTIONS to the customer of how to respond and what will occur when they do.

There are many additional helpful elements – such as proof, credibility,celebrity, pre-emptive answers to skepticism and reasons not to respond,risk reversal, and others.

But the above five are the absolutely mandatory components.

If you lack any, you do NOT have an ad at all.


Bill Glazer is one of the most celebrated Marketing Gurus in the world. Bill and his "Outside The Box" Advertising Strategies have often been featured in the most prestigious Marketing Magazines in the world. Bill is the author of the best selling book, "Outrageous Advertising That's Outrageously Successful: Created for the 99% of Small Business Owners Who Are Dissatisfied with the Results They Get".

19 Responses

  1. Joker says:

    Everything dynamic and very positively! :)

  2. Shannon says:

    Working with clients, this is THE checklist I use all the time. I’m still amazed at how many people still only have one or two of these things and never all 5. The one that really trips people up that I see a lot is the offer. It’s usually a “good” offer, but hardly ever irresistible. Hardest part I think for entrepreneurs and marketers is to get in the heads of their prospects and figure out their emotional hot buttons in order to get their prospects to raise their hand and take them up on their offer.

  3. I’ve already shared this with my entire herd.

    AMAZING how many ads fail miserably.

    You’re helping end that epidemic.

    On behalf of all business owners everywhere: Thanks, Dan!

  4. Mande White says:

    This is a great checklist. I’ll going to share this will all my clients. It is very rare to find an ad with all 5. That’s why I LOVE getting my GOLD newsletter every month with real-life example that anyone can swipe and deploy for their industry. Thanks so much for sharing with us through the blog!

  5. Rob Anspach says:

    …now print those 5 elements out and tape to the wall in front of you… now read it… read it again and again and again. Read it everday, several times a day!

  6. Bob Stupak, the controversial and colorful entrepreneur who built the Stratosphere just died here in Vegas. When I was a young magician decades ago, long before I became a hypnotist, I read a book on entrepreneurship that talked about Bob Stupak. I’m not entirely sure that he didn’t make up the rules as he went along, but he damn sure kicked ass and had fun.

  7. Bret Ridgway says:

    Right on target Bill. It still amazes me the number of people who write ads who aren’t familiar with the old masters and how applicable their works are to what’s going on today. How many who don’t know about Claude Hopkins, John E. Kennedy, Clyde Bedell, Robert Collier, E. Haldeman-Julius, Eugene Schwartz, John Caples and others.

    Curious Bill as to what would be your Top 10 list of copywriting books of all time?

  8. Jim Rowe says:

    I can’t look in a paper or magazine without laughing at all the waisted money on bad ads. My logo is so small but my offers are huge.

    Jim Rowe
    Wing Central’s Roadhouse Grill

  9. 90% or better of most ads that make print ….um, well, no nice way to say this…

    S U C K !!!

    I went to college and got a Marketining Degree to teach my instructors what they didn’t know about marketing, because I had been studying swipe files since the age of 13, and needed to teach, not learn.

    That’s a little not true.

    Later I got another degree in Organizational Development from a Top 30 University, and caused a ruckus when I got the Professor who taught a class in Persuasion and Influence FIRED for falsely persuading my class. You can google Simone Regis University Polarization Persuasion to find the full story. The point is this. I will argue 9 out 10 times that your print ads suck.

    That same university, my own, is now promoting with a new angle, “Be Influential” Hmmm, I wonder where they got that idea?

    Stage Hypnotist Simone,
    Las Vegas

    Stage Hy

  10. Rob Anspach says:

    my mother in law (age 64) went back to college and took a marketing class… she asked the professor if she could bring me along one day to speak… well I almost got thrown out of the class for dispelling all the crap that college marketing teaches… when I was done I had the students saying yeah that makes sense – and the teacher was miffed, upset and frustrated that he spent years teaching this crap and still didnt know a thing about effective marketing, headlines or emotional direct response…

  11. Do this: Google my name and Regis University and Polarization Persuasion to see the 8 page article I wrote. The Persuasion Teacher in my last class was fired as a result of my no-bull only truth attitude. I am a deception detective and I called her out for her BS, and then I demanded that she deliver content to the 8 or so students in the class paying $20,000 in tuition for content, not BULL. I recorded everything and it got her fired. She’ll never teach again. It was really, really amazing. People are falsely persuaded and lied to by people who want to hurt them. It’s going to stop and I’m the solution. Love your stories and posts.

    Stage Hypnotist Simone

  12. Rob Anspach says:

    “With great power comes great responsibility!” – this advice is for all… not just advice Uncle Ben gave Peter Parker (aka Spiderman).

    Our ability and responsibility to our clientele, to any audience, is to educate, persuade and offer advice… this kind of power shouldn’t be used to bully or get people fired.

    Take time to show the person what could be accomplished by trying a different approach (direct repsonse marketing, social media marketing, etc) instead of using institutional marketing. Explain your position. But don’t insult them or get them fired.

    I’m sure that professor should have been fired… however, they were just teaching how they were taught.

  13. I didn’t work to get her fired. That was entirely the Board of Regis University. I just exposed the debacle she put the class through.

    I agree with you on most points her, Ron. Also, I believe it’s sometimes neccessary to be NOT NICE in exposing the truth. It certainly worked in this instance. Remember. The tuition fees for that single class added to over $20,000.00 and we recieved ZERO content for our money.

    Angry? You bet. Honest about it. Hell, yes.

    Results by pro-active rebellion and expose? Yes, again.

    Stage Hypnotist Simone
    Las Vegas

  14. Rob Anspach says:

    … by all means start a crusade… and yes you have the right to be mean, angry and even pissed off… but be nice about.

    It wasnt the teachers fault – it was the institutions fault. But the teacher lost her cool and ended up getting fired.

  15. Rob Anspach says:

    regards to Jim Rowe…
    “I can’t look in a paper or magazine without laughing at all the waisted money on bad ads. My logo is so small but my offers are huge.”

    Yes the bigger the company I believe the the more dumb they are… and they have no clue how to track anything… they never ask when you call, how you heard of them… so how do they know that ad works? They don’t … they have more money then brains.

    I haven’t used a logo in about 10 years (I have one – just never use it) – I would rather fill the space my logo goes in with more copy. The more you tell, the more you sell.

  16. Sorry, Bill. I just noticed that I thanked Dan for this post in my original comment back on September 30, 2009. You give a short, simple outline that every advertiser should follow if they really ever want to stop blaming every medium they use and start looking at their crummy content for the real reason they’re wasting their money.

    Thanks, Bill!

  17. Hey Rob and Simone: You guys send messages to each other back and forth on this blog like two little schoolgirls pumping out text messages at the mall!

    Get a room! lol

  18. Steve…

    The reason blog interactions in the comments are so beautiful to watch is because of the win/win… the blog where the post is made gets a constant stream of free, relevant content.. and the commenters get visibility and networking… all by commenting in blogs!

  19. Florian says:

    I am studying your and Dan’s direct mail and direct response methods. I started using them for myself and for small business clients.

    I also am applying the “linkage” concept with a sequenced direct mailing piece to trigger better response rates.

    I am wondering whether the 5 elements you mentioned here for a direct response ad are also essential to any piece of direct mail (like a letter to existing clients announcing a whole new set of products).
    thanks, Florian

Leave a Comment

SuperConference-2018 SuperConference-2018