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*A Book Review*

The Wizard of Ads

By Roy H. Williams

by Michael C. Gray

October 1, 2004

The Wizard of Ads is a change of pace for a person like myself who is oriented to direct response advertising. Roy Williams has his own advertising agency near Austin, Texas. His opinions about advertising are quite different from Dan Kennedy’s, John Carlton’s or Gary Halbert’s, but still are interesting reading.

The book cover is a marvelous piece of merchandising. It looks like the worn cover of a book of ancient wisdom.

The book consists of 100 two-page chapters plus Elbert Hubbard’s essay, "A Message To Garcia." In these essays, Roy Williams shares his ideas about advertising, having a successful business, and life. This is not a "how to" book, so you will not know how to write a great ad after reading it, but you should have a better idea about what makes an ad great.

Roy Williams’ first lesson is, "The risk of insult is the price of clarity." Restated, for your advertising to be effective, you have to be willing to offend some people.

He believes that making promotional offers builds short-term traffic at the expense of long-term success. (Why can’t you use the short-term traffic to build a list of customers to continue building a relationship for long-term success?)

Roy Williams doesn’t believe that advertising can be "scientific". It’s more of an art form. (Never mind Claude Hopkins, John Caples, Robert Collier and David Ogilvy.)

He also believes that trying to "reach the right people" is a poor strategy, because it ignores other people than the decision makers who influence them through word of mouth. (For businesses that have niche markets, not targeting can result in a very expensive marketing effort with a lot of waste.)

According to Roy Williams, most small businesses would be better served by investing marketing dollars in upgrading their locations and in sales training for their team members. (This may be good advice for certain retail and service businesses, like restaurants. Many businesses have dispersed clientele where location isn’t a key factor. Advertising can be used to generate qualified leads to reduce or eliminate the most painful part of selling – prospecting.)

Advertising based on sound seems to have more "sticking power" than visual ads. That’s why Roy Williams favors radio advertising. (This finding supports including recorded messages on your web site and sending telephone voice broadcast messages to existing customers.)

Despite my contrary comments, I agree with more of Roy Williams’ opinions than I disagree with, and I encourage you to include The Wizard of Ads on your reading list.

Buy it on Amazon: The Wizard of Ads: Turning Words into Magic and Dreamers into Millionaires.

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The Wizard of Ads, by Roy H. Williams, shares a different idea about what makes an ad great.


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