10 Steps to Writing Successful Ad Copy
Writing an ad? The tips below - and the important warning
that follows - will help you to get the very best response.
1. Start by choosing a single benefit of your product or
service that you wish to highlight above everything else.
This is your "principle selling position" or PSP. To choose
this, ask yourself what specific benefit makes your product
or service different, better, or special. Is it the price?,
the convenience? the reliability?
2. Write attention-grabbing headlines. This is very
important. People are overloaded with information, so they
skim read, particularly on the Internet. If your headline
doesn't get their attention everything else is probably
wasted because it won't be read. Your headline will often be
based around your PSP.
3. Write a list of all the features of your product or
service then translate each of these into a benefit for the
customer. One way to do this is to look at each feature in
turn then ask yourself "So what?" Imagine you're a customer;
why should you care about this feature? Ask "What will it do for me?"
For example, don't just say that you product is fast (a
feature), tell the customer that it will give them more free
time (a benefit). Better still, paint a picture of them
using their free time to go to the beach, read a book, or
4. Write copy that emphasises the benefits in a way that
makes an emotional connection. For example, let's say you're
selling toothpaste. A feature might be that it contains
fluoride. Sure, but that's boring. Rather, say it "Lessens Tooth Decay!" or even better:
"Brush with Boffo and Avoid the Dentist's Drill!" See? You've turned a dull feature into
a strong emotional benefit linked to people's fear of dental
procedures. Isn't that more effective than "Contains fluoride"?
5. Start with your strongest selling points. The first few
paragraphs are particularly important. Use them to create a
desire for your product or service by briefly touching on
the major benefits it will bring the customer. You don't
have to go into too much detail up front as you can expand
on these benefits later. Do try to get your big guns in
6. Testimonials sell. Good, believable testimonials from
real people will help sales, particularly on the web where
establishing credibility is a tough job. For even better
credibility, ask your testimonial writers if you can include
their contact details along with their testimonial.
7. Write with a natural style. Don't try to be pretentious
or over friendly. Just write it the way you'd say it.
8. Decide who you're writing for and why. What tone are you
trying to convey: light hearted?, serious? What level of
jargon are you going to employ? Suit your language to your
9. The final sales pitch, when it comes, must have three
10. End by telling the reader what to do; e.g. "Ring now" or
"Click here to order now for immediate delivery!" Needless
to say, ordering details must be clearly visible and simple
- It must incorporate a good deal; e.g. "40% off!"
- It must be urgent; e.g. "Only seven more days!"
- It must be risk free; e.g. "Backed by a 90-day, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee!"
Looking at these tips, it may seem that good advertising
involves manipulating the emotions of your customers. Yes,
Selling is a blatant form of emotional manipulation that
involves convincing your customer that they want to buy your
product or service, and they want to do it now.
Is this unethical? Well, it can be. It depends where you
draw the line. In point 9 I said that your sales message
must include a sense of urgency. A common ploy on the web is
to include a claim like "Offer closes this Saturday". If you
go back to the site the following week, though, the offer is
still available. If you were tricked by such a claim, would
you order from that company again?
So, by all means, use the 10 tips above to write as
persuasively as you can, but remember that if you attract
sales by deceiving your customers you risk not only legal
action but poor word of mouth, no repeat business, and more
refund requests. So, be as persuasive as you can possibly
be, but avoid the temptation to be "too" persuasive.
. . .
About the aurthor:
Tim North is the author of "BETTER WRITING SKILLS" - an
easy-to- understand, jargon-free, downloadable book that
can give you a competitive edge.
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