Recently someone asked me what the difference is between “hot buttons” and other “activators” in getting John Smith’s attention to a marketing piece. The simple answer is, a hot button is something that is relevant to the product or service being offered, and anything else may get attention but if it’s not related will leave John Smith wondering why he’s paying attention to the rest of the piece.
Let’s recall the “marketing equation” – Interrupt + Engage + Educate + Offer. All four MUST be aligned for an ad or marketing piece to be effective. Hot buttons are the basis for the piece and putting all four elements of the equation to work for you. The interrupt must be aligned with the conversation that compels John Smith to want to read it all – then take the action you invite with the offer. A relevant interrupt will be a hot button, while a non-relevant interrupt will be a “false interrupt”, and will typically kill John Smith’s desire to read or listen or watch the rest of the ad.
Let’s look at digital cameras in newspaper ads. We could hire a celebrity, or perhaps a half naked model to hold the camera. These are clearly activators that get attention immediately but they don’t address the main issues when buying a camera because the interrupt has nothing to do with the questions John Smith has when buying a camera. Ask yourself what problems surround buying a digital camera. Most buyers don’t have a clue about zoom lenses, flash memory, megapixels, etc. They want to make the best decision possible. Sadly most camera ads list cameras with menu-board advertising. They show you pictures of cameras with a bullet list of features for that model along with a price. It’s difficult to know what to buy from any of those ads.
If you were buying a camera would you pay attention to this headline? “If you’re thinking about buying a digital camera, but don’t have a clue what to look for or how to compare, then ask for our free camera buyer’s guide.”
I would definitely want to see if that guide would help me! The beauty of this interrupt is that it also contains the offer. The second line in the ad could read, “Learn everything you need to know about zoom lenses, megapixels and flash memory and more”. This sub-headline is engaging. Now I have 3 of the marketing equation elements. The last is “educate”. Depending on ad space you can leave it out or discuss a compelling reason to ask for the guide – an example would be a paragraph answering one of the questions.
Make sure whatever you are selling has an interrupt that is a hot button so it doesn’t become a false interrupt.