Advertising Insights

How good are you at writing adverts? These tips might help you. 

Advertising is an essential element in any marketing mix. It has been said that advertising drives economies in that it stimulates enquiry and demand for both new and existing products and services.

And while the essential elements of a good advert haven’t changed, the media has.

A client asked me today what I meant by the essential elements of a good advert. Here’s my answer:

A good advert basically says “Hey you; do you have this problem? If so, here’s how we can help, call us.”

(By comparison, a bad ad has a big logo and words of self-praise that shout “Look at us, aren’t we good?” and do absolutely nothing to stimulate the reader’s emotions.  In the trade, we refer to this as  “weeing on ourselves…”)

So what makes a good ad, and how do you write one?

Copywriters the world over will each tell you that their “secret formula” is the key. They all have their mnemonics like AIDA or BUTRLIS or a formula that requires you to fill out 20 fields in a template. And while they probably all work for their creators, most are darn difficult for someone else to use unless they truly understand the DNA of the system.

They will all tell you that a certain type of headline will out-perform another. And while it’s probably true that if you’re really stuck, start with the words “How To…” and add the remainder yourself. Some examples of this are:

  • How to make $10,000 a week sitting at home in your underwear selling stuff on ebay
  • How to know if your Superannuation is making or costing you money
  • How to win friends and influence people
  • How to beat the taxman at his own game
  • How to write great adverts that convert like crazy
  • How to meet and date attractive people

Another frequently used formula is “X number of secrets to…” like these (and I’m not convinced that 7 is the magic number by the way)

  • 7 secrets the insurance companies don’t want you to know that will reduce your premiums
  • 7 ways to lose weight while still eating whatever you want
  • 5 things you should never say to your wife when she’s angry
  • 4 words women use that create instant fear and terror in their male partners (In case you’re wondering, they are “We need to talk”)

There are also the classic headlines like these that we see reused and recycled over and over:

  • They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I began to play…
  • The secret to making people like you
  • Do you make these mistakes in English?
  • Have you these symptoms of nerve exhaustion?

Undoubtedly the key to a great advert lies in a carefully crafted headline. Can you see how you could adapt one or more of the 14 examples I’ve given you to your business?

But what comes next?

What you now need to do is talk to the reader about their problem and how you can solve it. Finally you need to make them an offer or provide a compelling call to action. Here are some examples:

  • Call before June 24 and receive a 20% discount
  • Visit our website and get your free report
  • Drop by our showroom on any Saturday with this advert, buy 12 bread rolls and get a free family sized apple pie
  • Order now for December delivery and get it delivered free

While these basic principles work for adverts in most print media, the content you would use for a brochure or an online search engine advert would be different.

Let me explain why…

A brochure is typically an element distributed to people who already know something about you. It might be handed out at a trade show, left behind by a salesperson or used to accompany a proposal or quote. (I’ll talk about quotes in another article soon.) You can see from this that the brochure is a piece used to confirm your capability and to position you as a suitable supplier. Your brochure needs to be written in a totally different style and language to your adverts simply because the buyer is at a different stage in their consierations.

An advert on the other hand, has the purpose of creating the enquiry that led to the use of a brochure.

Advertising online and website copy

Search Engine Advertising is a totally different kettle of fish. Here we have interested buyers searching for what you do by means of either a question or a request. Examples include (and there are thousands)

  • After-hours plumber Brisbane northside
  • How do I balance my accounts?
  • Can I subdivide my block for townhouses
  • How can I lose weight
  • Pacific island cruises
  • Holidays in alaska
  • Buy Canon camera
  • Best pizza in san francisco

These search strings (or search phrases) each have different interpretations in terms of what the person is seeking. Some are researching, some want information, some want to buy.  Our job is to sift through the search phrases people us when looking for you, to put the most relevant advert in front of them and to guide them to a page on your website that addresses their question or problem.

Search engine advertising is often referred to as pay-per-click in that you pay the search engine only when someone clicks your advert and visits your page. And let me ally any suspicions about people just maliciously clicking your ads and racking up a huge bill. One, it doesn’t happen as much as you might think, and two, the clicks can be tracked.

Some quick examples of how ads that respond to these search queries:

Need A Plumber Now?
After-hours plumber comes
to you inside 60 minutes
(Link to website)

How to balance accounts
Experienced bookkeeper helps you
get it right every time, $45/hr
(Link to website)

Looking to subdivide?
Town Planner Tells You Exactly
What You Can and Can’t Do
(Link to website)

Call us on 1300 884 757 (+61 7 3088 2961 from outside the land of Oz) for an obligation-free discussion on how to improve your advertising.