A successful marketing plan relies heavily on the pull of ad copy. Writing results-oriented advertising copy is difficult, as it has to attract, entice and convince consumers to take action. There is no magic formula for writing a perfect ad copy; it is based on a number of factors, including ad placement, demographics, and even the consumer’s mood when they see your ad. So how should a writer write great ad 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 consists of the same basic elements. Always good advertising copy:
Grab attention: Consumers are inundated with ads, so it’s imperative that your ad grabs attention and grabs interest immediately. You could do it with a title or slogan (like VW’s “Drivers Wanted” campaign), a color or layout (Target’s new colorful and simple ads are a testament to that) or an illustration (like the Red Bull characters or the depressed ball of Zoloft and his ladybird friend).
It promises a credible advantage: to feel obligated by an ad, the consumer must get 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 need to be able to keep that promise, so don’t offer anything unreasonable.
Maintains interest: attracting the consumer’s attention is not enough; you have to hold that attention for at least a few seconds. This is where your benefits or a product description that sets your offering apart from the rest come into play.
Generate action: This is the final point of the ad copy: it has to make the reader react in some way. This does not necessarily translate into immediate purchase of the product or use of the service. Your ad could be a positioning tool to allow the reader to think of you in a certain light. Talk to your audience or the audience you would like to reach and you will be surprised at how often they come to you in the future.
KNOW THE MEDIUM
The way you write your ad copy will be based on where you place your ad. If it’s a billboard, you’ll need an eye-catching title and a simple design because of the speed at which people pass. Online ads are similar; consumers are so inundated with internet advertising that your ad needs to be quick and catchy. Magazine advertising is the most versatile, but it depends entirely on the size of your ad and how many other ads compete with yours. If you have a full page ad, feel free to experiment; more space on the page gives you more creative space. If the ad is small, you will need to keep things as simple as possible.
KNOW THE STYLE
Advertising copy is a unique type of writing. Its purpose is to balance creativity and readability into something persuasive and fun. Keep the following points in mind when writing your copy:
Be concise: There are few things more damaging to an advertising campaign than messy prolixity. Use short sentences with as many familiar words as possible; save the thesaurus for a thesis or dissertation. Always make sure you use precise phrasing (why use five adjectives when a good action verb would do?); and eliminate any layoffs, such as “petty little” or “annual payments of $ XXX per year”.
Speak to your audience, not them: While you’re announcing the availability of a product or service, avoid being clinical or overly formal. Write as if you were talking to your ideal client; use a style they would use, words they would be familiar with, jargon they probably know. But be absolutely certain that you are using these terms and phrases correctly. A recent McDonald’s campaign attempted to reach a certain audience by using the phrase “I hit it” in reference to a cheeseburger, ignoring that the phrase is almost always used as a sexual reference.