Credit: Illustration: Barry Blitt

Want to get a prospect's attention? Deciding what kind of image you will include in your advertising is as critical as your headline. Many replacement contractors use a picture of a house in their ads (several may use the same picture), but a stock photo of a house may not be the most effective illustration.

One Same as the Next

For instance, in a siding ad, a stock photo of a house implies that this ad has something to do with a home. Windows, gutters, siding ? maybe lawn care? But your headline can identify the product with greater precision and impact.

Fact is, when viewed from the curb, most all lap siding looks like painted cedar ? or strives to. In split copy tests, we found that a strong siding-related headline supported by a cutaway image of the siding system pulled better than a generic curb shot of a house with the same headline. The homeowner knows what a house looks like. Show him what your siding looks like.

Or take windows. From the curb, one double-hung window looks very much like another. And shot from inside, the vista beyond the window becomes the dominant graphic element. The window itself gets second billing. We found that lead response was better with a window/benefit-headline and a photo of an engaging model tilting the window to clean it and/or a corner cut with callouts relating to the glazing system or sash design.

Sunroom Conundrum

Sunrooms offer a different benefit and require a different image. A backyard perspective of a sunroom clearly shows the product but not the product's principal benefit.

A homeowner in­-vests in a sunroom not for curb appeal but for the experience of sitting in a bright, temperature-controlled space enjoying the vista. Evoke that feeling with a high-angle interior photo showing a carpeted or hardwood floor and upholstered furniture, safe from the weather, with an attractive couple, back to the camera, enjoying the view.

Next time you're putting an ad together, ask yourself: Is this generic home photograph the best way to illustrate the benefit I promise in the headline?

?John Stevens is with Peterson/Stevens Marketing Advertising, specializing in brand building and lead generation in the home improvement industry.