Look – I don’t mean to scare you… honestly, I don’t!

But I need you to know something …

Writing ads is kinda hard.

Well … it’s kinda hard when you don’t know what you’re actually doing.

I don’t know you – but I know one scary statistic that makes my stomach cramp up worse than three cups of coffee before breakfast:

80% Of Small Businesses Die After Their First Year Of Operations

It might be the coffee I’m drinking – but I feel shaky after writing that. 80% of businesses die after 12 months!

Now I know what you’re thinking – “But Andrew! That’s mostly first-time business owners who have no idea what they’re doing.”

You’re right! To a degree …

Many first-time business owners dramatically crash their businesses in spectacular fashion. But many people don’t know why this happens. And because they don’t know why their businesses crashed and burned, their next business will likely do the same.

It’s been proven since the dawn of entrepreneurship why this happens – the lack of distribution. Yet to so many people it’s still a mystery.

Without Distribution, Your Company Will Slowly (Or Quickly) Suffocate

Distribution is the access to your ideal target audience, fanbase, and customer list.

It’s the ability to send a message, get people to interact with it, and either advance the relationship you have with them or move them into a sales system for a product or service.

If you do not have distribution, you have no access to new customers. If you have no access to new customers you will die.

Game over.

Please restart your game and try again.

So why in 2018, where distribution is so easy to obtain, do businesses still flop like fish on the beach when it comes to obtaining distribution?

Businesses Lack Distribution Because They Don’t Know How To Write Compelling Advertisements That Turn Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers

Distribution in 2018 is about relationship and relevancy.

When you’re starting out, your distribution is best achieved by running paid advertisements to a buying audience.

Yes that requires money. Yes it involves risk. Welcome to entrepreneurship.

I want to let you in on an industry secret …

The difference between a successful paid ad and a failed paid ad lies in its ability to grab the attention of a stranger, pull on an emotional heart string that’s tied to a problem they have, and capture their information with a dedicated landing page.

Let me say that again because this is a critical factor between the life and death of a business: Your ability to acquire new customers relies 100% on your ability to grab the attention of a stranger, pull on an emotional heart string that’s tied to a problem they have, and capture their information with a dedicated landing page.

Every successful ad I’ve ever run does all those three things, and every failed ad I’ve managed didn’t do at least one of those well.

As an advertiser, it’s no use to us if someone reads our ad, says to themselves “Wow! What a fantastic ad” and tosses our ad to the side like a batch of burnt cookies. Those three elements prevent that from happening.

We have to make our audience take action!

What Are The Three Ingredients Of A Successful Ad?

Every successful ad I’ve ever seen or ran has three critical elements. These three parts are what TRIGGER the three factors I listed above. Get these right and you’ll be able to grab attention, pull on a heart string tied to a problem, and capture information with a landing page.

To create a successful ad, you need to have:

1- A relevant audience.

2- A winning offer.

3- An optimized landing page to capture their information.

I’m going to expand on those points, but first I want you to watch this short clip from the TV show “Parks And Recreation.” In this clip, Ron Swanson, one of the lead characters, created an advertisement for his company “Very Good Construction.”

Check it out …

WHEW. Alright.

Well then.

I get that this is a fictional commercial for a fictional company … but the scary thing is that so many actual companies do nearly the exact same thing and wonder why they don’t get results.

Earlier this week a new barber in my town decided to run a Facebook ad targeting people my age. Very well. The problem?

It was a one sentence ad that said: “Come get your haircut.” The image was a man in the distance walking away.

Is that compelling enough to bring in a new customer who has never heard of you?


Look above at my three elements and you’ll see none of them present in the ad.

Compare that to this ad that I ran in the fall for an eCommerce brand I co-owned with a friend.

This ad brought in 376 leads for $166 (44 cents a lead). The video in the ad simply rehashed the ad copy. It’s better than doing a static image because Facebook rewards video ads with more views at cheaper costs. I always advise you make a video of some sort for your ads.

Why did it do so well? Because I incorporated all three of my elements into this advertising campaign.

Let’s explore them together …

Element #1: Target A Relevant Audience

Specificity is everything in paid advertising. You’re reaching specific people with a specific message. The more specific your audience, the higher the likelihood that your ad will succeed.

Why? Because in the past era of mass marketing we were trained to filter out the “noise” in the marketing world and disregard it as spam. We are hit with hundreds of marketing messages everyday. We only pay attention to messages that:

1- Call us out.

2- Are directly targeted and relevant to us.

Notice in my ad how I did this.

I called out the audience TWO times.

1 – “Would you like to learn some tips and tricks that will stop your dog from barking?”

I called out dog owners.

“But Drew! You didn’t say ‘Hey Dog Owners!’”

That’s because I didn’t have to. Notice my words – “will stop YOUR dog from barking”

“Your” is a qualifying word. It attaches identity and ownership to the reader. If you own a dog you logically think to yourself “I own a dog – he must be talking to me.”

If you don’t own a dog you think “I don’t own a dog – he isn’t talking to me. I can ignore him now.”

See how I immediately hook the targeted reader?

2- “Owning Corgis is a lot of fun – but they LOVE to bark.”

I labeled myself as a Corgi owner – and I targeted Corgi owners to see this ad. When a Corgi owner scrolls through their Facebook feed and sees me saying “Owning Corgis is a lot of fun” they think to themselves “Yeah! My Corgi is a lot of fun too.”

Likewise when I say “They LOVE to bark” the reader thinks “Yes my Corgi barks far too much as well.”

This is calling out the audience by identifying something I have in common with them. This is an interest based call out.

These Two Strategies Can Be Used In Almost Every Industry And Niche

Let’s say you promote vegan recipes.

In your ad copy you could say “Looking for the tastiest vegan recipes of 2018?”


“As a vegan myself, I’ve found that these 7 recipes give me more energy, stamina, and endurance than any other meal I’ve tried.”

If you’re actively involved in what the audience is interested in, you can use both strategies to hone in (with copy) on your ideal target audience. This will help you get more leads, customers, and orders while reducing your ad costs.

Element #2: Present Your Audience With A Winning Offer

The offer is the REASON that your ad exists. It’s the thing you’re going to give to your audience in exchange for their contact information. Research needs to go into your offer in order to determine what you should promote (unless you’re a local business with a product or simple service). In the case of the local business, you can run a front-end offer like a $21 initial chiropractic exam or first month of gym membership for $10. Those types of deals work well.

My offer in this ad was a simple PDF cheatsheet called “7 Simple Steps To Stop Excessive Dog Barking.”

Why would I call it that, and why would I present it to my audience?

In his book “Ca$hvertising: How To Use More Than 100 Secrets Of Ad-Agency Psychology To Make Big Money Selling Anything To Anyone” Drew Eric Whitman says that …

“Human beings are biologically programmed with the following eight desires:

1- Survival, enjoyment of life, life extension.

2- Enjoyment of food and beverages.

3- Freedom from fear, pain, and danger.

4- Sexual companionship.

5- Comfortable living conditions.

6- To be superior, winning, keeping up with the Joneses.

7- Care and protection of loved ones.

8- Social approval.”

Whitman calls these desires “The Life-Force 8.” These eight desires drive every buying decision we have ever made to some extent. They are the foundational blueprint for how to influence a human being.

When We Run Ads We MUST Use At Least One Of Those Eight Desires. If We Don’t, We Might As Well Give Up And Throw Our Money Into A Fire.

I knew that my offer had to be directly tied to the enjoyment of life (#1) and comfortable living conditions (#5). Those are the two biggest desires created by owning dogs.

All I needed to do was to figure out what specifically triggered those two desires.

After my research one glaring issue stood out to me – many dog owners had extremely loud, obnoxious dogs that bark all hours of the night!


Because I did the research, I was able to create a PDF that promised to solve that issue. As we now know, the offer worked.

How Can You Create A Winning Offer?

Study the eight desires listed above. I highly suggest buying Whitman’s book in order to get a deeper understanding of the eight desires.

Take the time to analyze your audience. Where are their unmet desires? What can you create, offer, or do that will satisfy that desire? Your ability to implement the solution in the form of your offer will directly impact how engaging and relevant your ad is.

Element #3 – Create An Optimized Landing Page That Captures Information And Turns Readers Into Leads

Your landing page has one role – to capture information!

That’s it.

I see so many people trying to build complex, confusing landing pages.

I get it – you’re fancy.

But you’re probably losing a lot of money.

Why? Because people will not jump through too many hoops to get what they want. At least not without a lot of nudging.

Landing pages are not website home pages! They have a very simple, basic purpose.

Look at my landing page for the campaign we’ve been studying…

It’s simple, clean, and got the job done.

On Mobile, every single element is above the fold. I found that this increased the conversion rate (the percentage of people that signed up) by 24%.

I included the headline up top with a consistent message, showed them the front page of the PDF, gave a short description, and placed the button where they can signup.

The popup simply asked for a name and email address.

That’s all there was to it!

The Elements Of A Successful Landing Page (For Cold Audiences And Ads)

When you’re building a landing page for an ad, follow these principles:

1- Keep everything above the fold on mobile. The entire page should be visible without scrolling down.

2- Keep a headline consistent with the ad itself. The goal is to make visitors feel like they clicked in the right place.

3- Include a relevant image. Don’t use video. Use video in your ad and images in the landing page.

4- Keep the opt-in incredibly simple. For my landing page it was a button that gave a popup. All we asked for was name and email.

5- SIMPLICITY SELLS! I don’t care if it’s ugly. It needs to convert. Sometimes really ugly landing pages convert the best. Surprise!

Honestly out of all three of these elements I’ve talked about, landing pages are the easiest. All the work of research and audience development has been done. Essentially rehash the ad copy, keep colors and branding consistent, and keep the opt-in short and sweet. That’s what you need to work about. The ad will do all the heavy lifitng. The landing page collects the information from your leads and sifts out the bad visitors from the good. It’s like your own personal gatekeeper!

Look – Writing Profitable Ads Is A Science (And An Art … I guess)

There’s a very formulaic way to present your ads, as I’ve talked about here, to keep them winning.

Generally, if you hit the three points I’ve talked about your ad will do well. It’s science, folks. Hard. Cold. Science.

But sometimes even science royally screws things up and sends you running for help.

There are two things you need to do when this happens:

1- Go back to the drawing board and see if you can salvage what went wrong. Sometimes this is as simple as rewriting your ad copy. No kidding! The first time I ran the ad I showed you, the copy was completely different. I got 2 leads for $5 each. Yuck. I rewrote it, simplified it, and BOOM leads galore.

2- Talk with a professional who has been doing this thing for a while. Look – you’ve probably got some mental blocks you’re stuck up on. It’s okay. We all do. Despite being out biggest critics, we don’t see what’s holding us back. Every single one of us has “blind spots” that prevent us from reaching our potential.