Heart, Head and Hand – Grab attention to make your ads pay.

Free, Sex. Two of the most attention grabbing words in the English language. You have a split second to make an impression with an ad – what will instantly engage your audience to stay for more?


Direct Response Advert from the NHS. Image courtesy of telegraph.co.uk


Ads in magazines, however targeted the audience, have to leap out at consumers and grab hold of them, against a backdrop of other advertising ‘noise’, and editorial content that has already caught the readers eye. Direct Response TV advertising has to shout at viewers slouched on their sofa, to grab their phone and get the deal. It’s got to get their attention, fast.


So, how do we make direct response adverts grab a customer, shake them from their lethargy, and jump into a buying process?

  1. Eyeball them.Use eye catching imagery to create instant appeal. Use your knowledge of the consumer to think about what makes them tick. Make it big, simple, and instantly recognisable.

  2. Maximise standout. In some media formats, standing out from other advertising is critical. Direct mail and doordrop adverts can use interesting formats; cardboard that pops up into 3D, or is ‘die cut’ into funky shapes. Simple mechanisms have to work hard to create engagement from the doormat, at 5pm when customers get home from work.

  3. Brand it. Use your consistent brand assets for immediate recognition. All the thoughts feelings and preconceptions about your brand can be shortcut into an emotive response. I don’t even need to read the headline if I see an ad that I recognise as TomTom, with a big pricepoint of £49 to immediately peak my interest. TomTom conjures my immediate belief of superior and cutting edge GPS systems – and £49 catches my eye because in the context of the brand, it sounds like a great deal. Now they’ve got my interest.

  4. Get your headline right. We work with our clients to build a ‘message hierarchy’. Order all the messages you need to include in your headline; features, benefits, offers and pricepoints, and prioritise them by what will grab attention the most. Then, use some creativity to draw attention to them in that order.