Gradualization is one of the techniques of Breakthrough Copy, Gene Schwartz delves into in Breakthrough Advertising.
Let’s take it straight from Gene Schwartz in his legendary book.
“Gradualization is the art of starting your ad with a statement that will be immediately and entirely accepted, and then building a subsequent chain of acceptances upon this first statement. The purpose of this chain of acceptances is to lead your reader to a goal conclusion, which he will then accept, but which he would not as readily or as thoroughly have accepted without the preliminary statements.”
It’s infeasible to recap such an important advertising concept in this short space, but that’s the gist of gradualization.
Analogously, here’s something to keep in mind.
Oftentimes, leading with your biggest, most powerful claim in your headline is not the way to go. As Schwartz mentions, it’s a paradox many ad writers refuse to accept.
But, just think of boxing.
An accomplished boxer may possess a powerful uppercut, but he’d be a fool to throw it at the start of a match.
Because it’s a lot more efficient to throw a few stiff jabs, get his opponent’s attention, and then get in the proper range to throw the uppercut.
And so it is with advertising claims.
Sometimes it’s best to hold off with your strongest claims, until you’ve “thrown a few jabs” and gotten your prospect’s attention.
Take a look at these headlines.
They don’t hold anything back, but notice the difference that gradualization makes.
- “Break All The Rules and Win a 35-Year-Old-Body at 50-60-70 and Beyond!”
- “You Can Lose 20-40-60-80 Even 100 Pounds… and Never Gain an Ounce of It Back!”
- “Begin Your ‘Middle Years’ At 70, 80, Even 90!”
Sure, it’s possible to use a headline with the core claim: “You Can Lose 100 Pounds and Never Gain an Ounce of It Back!”
But, feel how much more credible the lesser claim is: “You Can Lose 20 Pounds…” This is a claim most people can swallow 🙂 because with consistency in diet, getting to the gym and quitting snacking, it’s an attainable goal.
Now, notice what Schwartz does.
He takes the basic claim “Lose 20 pounds” and dasiy-chains higher amounts of weight… “20-40-60-80 Even 100 Pounds.”
Instead of having the prospect turn the page or flip the channel on the unbelievable claim of losing 100 pounds, gradualization lets the copywriter “work his way up” to the big claim, without sacrificing believability.
Something to think about when creating your next ad.
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