A sales promotion landed on my desk recently…

Nothing new there; being a professional copywriter, hundreds land on my desk every week. But this one caught my eye.

Unfortunately, it was for the wrong reason.

You see, it wasn’t the headline that caught my attention. In fact, when I got round to reading it, I didn’t think much to it. A few too many clichés in my opinion; it lacked a truly unique idea.

What actually caught my attention was the image of the author himself (or rather, the image of the man behind the system – the promotion itself is undoubtedly written by a professional copywriter).

I took a picture and you can see the author image here:

What’s wrong with that you might wonder? He’s not an ugly man. He’s presenting himself quite smartly. And he’s apparently on a promenade or boat, therefore making the implicit suggestion that he’s a wealthy man and if you buy whatever he’s selling, you could be wealthy too.

Fair enough, right?

And yes, as far as author images go it’s not a bad one; if maybe a little cliché.

However, there is one major flaw with the presentation of this author image. It’s something that might seem pedantic, picky or even pointless. But believe me, it makes a difference – and that difference, no matter how trivial it seems, could be the difference between making a sale and not.

And besides, it’s something so easily fixable that it’s loopy for you not to do it.

The problem is that you have no idea who on earth this man is. In fact, I keep saying it’s an image of the author but it might just as well be the author’s uncle, their best friend or their lover. Who knows?!

As any reader would after seeing this picture, you scan the front page of the promotion to see if you can identify who this man is. You can’t.

And therein lays the problem. Before you’ve even started to read the promotion properly, you’re already distracted trying to find out who this bloody guy is.

Worse still, how can you trust him if you don’t know who he is? Why does he not say who he is? Is he hiding his identity? Is he embarrassed? Is he a criminal?

Of course, in the reader’s mind this all happens subconsciously; the reader’s very brain is designed to immediately filter the information it IS given so that it can start to fill in the blanks, the information it’s NOT given.

As a copywriter, you need to help the reader’s brain fill in the blanks as quickly and as easily as possible so that it can digest the actual information you want it to digest about the product or service you’re selling.

So, even though omitting the name of the author below the author’s image might seem trivial, it actually causes a lot more distraction than you might think.

Naturally, to solve the problem is simple: in any sales promotion, whenever you feature an image of the author, directly beneath it you should print the author’s name.

That way, you help the reader’s brain along in its calculations and you guide it on to the actual details of the promotion much quicker.

I think David Ogilvy once mentioned something along these same lines in regard to the pictures he often used in his adverts: beneath every picture there should always be a description of what the picture is.

He suggested that when people see a picture, their eye is naturally drawn to the bottom of the picture in the hope of finding an explanation of what the picture is of.

What Ogilvy did not go on to say is why the absence of an explanation is a problem. But here I have, and I’ll say it again for good measure…

When you feature an image of the author in a sales promotion but do not state that it is the author or what his or her name is, it leaves the reader’s subconscious with an unanswered question.

Unanswered questions are bad.


Because in a sales promotion, unanswered questions soon evolve into objections.

And of course, the more objections you allow the reader to generate, the less chance you have of making the sale.

So, don’t make this mistake in your sales promotions: ensure that whenever you feature the image of the author, you clearly state below the image his or her name.

Best wishes,

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