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How to Write Better Advertising Copy
by Brian Konradt
A successful marketing plan relies heavily on the pulling-power of advertising copy. Writing result-oriented ad copy is difficult, as it must appeal to, entice, and convince consumers to take action. There is no definitive formula to write perfect ad copy; it is based on a number of factors, including ad placement, demographic, even the consumers mood when they see your ad. So how is any writer supposed to pen a stunning piece of advertising copy -- copy that sizzles and sells? The following tips will jumpstart your creative thinking and help you write a better ad.
KNOW THE BASICS
All good advertising copy is comprised of the same basic elements. Good advertising copy always:
Grabs Attention: Consumers are inundated with ads, so its vital that your ad catches the eye and immediately grabs interest. You could do this with a headline or slogan (such as VWs Drivers Wanted campaign), color or layout (Targets new colorful, simple ads are a testimony to this) or illustration (such as the Red Bull characters or Zolofts depressed ball and his ladybug friend).
Promises Credible Benefit: To feel compelled by an ad, the consumer must stand to gain something; the product is often not enough. What would the consumer gain by using your product or service? This could be tangible, like a free gift; prestige, power or fame. But remember: you must be able to make good on that promise, so dont offer anything unreasonable.
Keeps Interest: Grabbing the consumers attention isnt enough; youve got to be able to keep that attention for at least a few seconds. This is where your benefits come into play or a product description that sets your offer apart from the others
Generates Action: This is the ultimate point of advertising copy -- it must make the reader react in some way. This doesnt necessarily translate to buying the product immediately or using the service. Your ad could be a positioning tool to enable the reader to think about you in a certain light. Speak to your audience, or the audience youd like to reach, and youll be surprised how frequently they come to you in the future.
KNOW THE MEDIUM
How you write your advertising copy will be heavily based on where you will place your ad. If its a billboard ad, youll need a super catchy headline and simple design due to the speed at which people will pass. Online ads are similar; consumers are so inundated with Internet advertising that yours must be quick and catchy. Magazine advertising is the most versatile, but this is solely dependent on the size of your ad and how many other ads compete with yours. If youve got a full page, feel free to experiment; more page space gives you more creative space. If the ad is tiny, youll need to keep things as simple as possible.
KNOW THE STYLE
Advertising copy is a unique type of writing. As the ad copywriter, your aim is to balance creativity and readability into something persuasive and entertaining. Keep the following points in mind when you write your copy:
Be Succinct: Messy wordiness will completely destroy an ad campaign. Use short sentences with as many familiar words as possible; save the thesaurus for a thesis or dissertation. Always make sure to use precise phrasing (why use five adjectives when one good action verb would do?); and eliminate any redundancies, such as little tiny or annual payments of $XXX per year.
Talk To Your Audience, Not At Them: Though you are announcing the availability of a product or service, avoid being clinical or overly formal. Write as if youre talking to your ideal customer; use a style theyd use, words theyd be familiar with, slang theyd probably know. But be absolutely certain that youre using these terms and phrases correctly. A recent McDonalds campaign attempted to reach a certain audience by using the phrase Id hit it in reference to a cheeseburger, unaware that the phrase is almost always used as a sexual reference.
Avoid Clichés: Its easy for writers new to advertising copy to fall into this trap, but its a trap that can severely damage the writing. Clichés fail to ignite the imagination; and consumers so numb to the phrases will often skip right past them, effectively ruining the succinct element of your ad. If you find yourself tempted to use a cliché, think about the message you want to convey with that cliché and try to rephrase it in a more imaginative, personal way.
Always Proofread: Its an obvious point, but youd be surprised how many ads run in a magazine or on a billboard with an error of some sort. Go through your advertising copy carefully to make sure that every word is spelled correctly, the grammar is impeccable and the punctuation is dead on. Even the best ads can be ruined by a misplaced comma or dangling modifier.
© B. Konradt