"In ads, always use the words "sale" and "free." They are proven winners."
Sometimes, conventional wisdom is right on the money. Sometimes, as in the above statement, it isn’t always so.
True, the words "sale" and "free" *can* be attractive, in certain settings, and for certain products and services. But when car dealers who have been in business for 50 years have had sales EVERY SINGLE WEEK of those 50 years, the word loses its meaning, as does the word "Free" when it’s in almost every ad in every magazine.
It’s not only because of the injudicious and promiscuous use of these and other "come on" words are they no longer ineffective. Sometimes, using them simply doesn’t make any sense.
Sometimes, "Free" implies garbage, or something poorly made. It may not fit the brand. For a luxury item, it make not make sense to ever have a "sale" or to give the product away for free. It cheapens the brand - a brand usually built up over generations.
Can you ever imagine a "blue light special" at Macy’s? What about a "buy one get one half price" at a BMW dealership, or how about a law firm offering a half price sale on divorces? That’s the point.
That’s why, when writing ad copy, it’s best to not only consider "trigger" words such as these, but also consider the audience - the target market.
In public relations, paid advertising can play an important and complementary role to earned media in getting out a message, especially as part of a campaign to change perceptions.
But it’s crucial to understand when a traditional "ad pitch" is warranted, and when it’s simply going to do more damage than good.