Effective Ad Copy
Advertising copy is all about selling. Whether you are
selling a product, a service, a tourist destination, or an event, the sole
purpose of an advertising copy is to spread the word in order to generate
business. The "business" need not always be money. The right result is
the nirvana of a good advertising copy.
Advertising copy can also be used to establish a brand, but
then again, in the long run, brands help generate long-term business gains.
I think advertising copy is one of the trickiest writing
jobs available. In a few seconds, you have to grab the attention of a reader who
is bombarded with scores of ads every day. Then you have to put your point
across in as few words as you can manage, and then stimulate the reader enough
to act on your words.
So what makes a killer advertising copy? There is no
scientific or statistical formula as such. Anything can click at a particular
time. Every advertising copywriter has his or her own style, but if you follow
some fundamental rules in the beginning, you can keep defining your own way of
writing advertising copy.
SET THE OBJECTIVE
This is the beginning. You can never write convincing copy
unless you know what it needs to achieve. A better understanding of the
objective helps you coalesce your thoughts and focus your skill. It's just like
charting a roadmap to a destination before embarking on a long journey.
BEGIN WITH HEADLINES AND SUBHEADINGS
Headlines and subheadings contain words those are most
critical to your message. So choose them carefully. Only an interesting headline
makes one read further, so consider it the most vital part of your assignment.
Your most important words should appear there. Your headline should give the
reader a fair idea of what the remaining copy comprises. If you can, prompt the
reader to perform the desired action in the headline itself.
On the other hand, the headline doesn't always have to make
sense. You can write an attention-grabbing headline just to make people react.
Or to confuse them so that they are forced to think about it. For instance, you
can ask a question such as:
"Haven't you always wanted this?"
"What have I always wanted?" the reader will
think, and read further.
Coincidentally, while I'm writing this article, my
brother-in-law has sent me a link to a website so that I can tell him whether
the website is offering a genuine business opportunity or not. I'm going through
their "online presentation." I have read four pages. I still don't
know what business opportunity they are talking about. All I can make out after
four pages is that there was this couple who was very poor but once they got
involved with this business opportunity they started earning $35,000 per month
in a span of a few months. They have a dream home. They have an assortment of
dream cars, and their expensive boat is lying somewhere. What business they do?
I have no idea. I can know this only after I purchase their business kit. I've
told my brother-in-law to give this "once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity" a
skip for the time being.
WRITE IN THE LANGUAGE OF YOUR AUDIENCE
Like the HSBC tagline says, "The world's local
bank," you have to adopt the local nuances while writing your advertising
copy for a region-based audience. It doesn't mean learning a new language from
scratch with every consecutive copywriting assignment. You just have to stick to
those words and phrases that a population is comfortable with. Nobody has time
to learn words in order to understand the benefits of the product or service you
are trying to promote.
USE WORDS THAT ARE STRONG BUT STRAIGHTFORWARD
Words and phrases like "money," "immediate
benefit," "save $150," "protect your child," "find
love now," and "lose weight in two weeks" sell like hot cakes.
They may sound clichéd to you, but if you notice, they promise you a tangible
result. They give a clear picture of what your copy intends to convey. Avoid
ambiguities and jargon.
PROVIDE A SOLUTION
We all need immediate solutions, to be frank. If I want to
improve the way I live or earn my living, I want to know in simple words whether
your product or service can help me achieve that or not, and how fast and at
what cost it can be done.
TOUCH YOUR AUDIENCE EMOTIONALLY (I don't mean to say
Advertising copy is about strumming the emotional strings
of your audience. Whether you like it or not, emotions rule the world. Great
wars and revolutions are unleashed under the aegis of emotions. Use them,
Don't promise the stars if you are selling the candles. Do
not make exaggerated claims. Believe me, they do nothing but put off the reader.
Sound sincere, be frank, do not patronize your readers unnecessarily and tell
exactly what your product or service does for the consumer.
ADDRESS THE PERSON
Talk directly to the person. Use as much "you,
your" as you can and use "us, we, I" as little as you can. The
reader is not interested in knowing what all your product or service can do. He
or she wants to know what all your product or service can do for him or her.
Focus on the reader, not on your product.
Copyright ©2003 Amrit Hallan
Amrit Hallan is a freelance copywriter, copy editor and a writer. He also optimizes web page content for higher search engine ranking. For copywriting and copy editing services, visit: http://www.amrithallan.com. Read his weekly essays and articles by subscribing to email@example.com.
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