How to Write Advertising Copy

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The advertising industry is very popular among job seekers, and it is no wonder. The top agencies pay quite well, the work is very creative, and the job itself is considered to be somewhat high profile and glamorous. However, we can't all land a prime position on Madison Avenue�at least not at first. If you are new to the advertising industry and want to write awesome advertising copy; or if you just want to write great advertising material to promote yourself as a job seeker, then these guidelines will certainly help.

Copywriting, which is what writing advertising copy is actually called, is an art on one hand and a science on the other. As an art, a writer must have not only the talent to write well, but the skill to execute that skill correctly, which leads to the science aspect. As a science, copywriting is rather technical in nature. There are systems and precise aspects of writing the copy which are often required and almost always expected. Advertising giants and market researchers have spent countless hours determining what works and what does not; what to include in advertising copy and what to leave out. Writing advertising copy is definitely a pretty exact science. Writers who want to break into the industry need to understand that science.

Your Product



Naturally, the first thing you need to consider when you sit down to write your ad copy is your product. What are you selling? If you are selling yourself to prospective employers, take a critical view of what you have to offer them. If you are selling widgets, what special features do they have? Know your product inside and out.

Your Buyer or Audience

The next thing to consider is who you are selling to. Who is your customer, your buyer, your audience? That is the person you will be speaking to through your copy. You will likely talk to an at-home mom somewhat differently than you would a Fortune 500 executive. They have different interests and different needs.

Brainstorming

Take some time to brainstorm about your product. Write down as much information as you can about it, your audience, and any ideas you have rambling around. Don't worry if they seem disjointed or don't really make sense; what's important now is getting the seeds of ideas onto the paper so you can cultivate them.

The Headline

Your customer will look at your ad copy and they will see the headline first. At that point they will decide if they want to read more. This means that your headline is a critical part of your advertising copy. It needs to be descriptive, to be attention grabbing, and to make your buyer want to read more. That's a tall order, but it is doable. Browse some press releases and article sites to get a feel for catchy headlines. Then sit down and come up with a few yourself.

Explain and Engage

The first paragraph of your ad copy is as important as the headline. It is within that first paragraph that your buyer will decide if they want to read the rest of what you have written. In short, between the headline and the first paragraph, you have about fifteen seconds to capture your reader's attention, explain what you are going to tell them, and engage them so that they want to continue reading. Use Kipling's ''six serving men'' as a guide: who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Benefits

Like it or not, your customer couldn't care less about how great your product is unless it directly pertains to them. Drive home not how wonderful your product is, but how it will benefit them, the customer.

Walk the Line

Explain how your product is better than the competition's. Sounds easy, right? Well, the trick here is to explain how your product is better than the competition's without directly criticizing the competition. You want to avoid saying that your product is better than Product X, listing several reasons, because this comes across as negative. It is better to refer to other products without directly naming them. You can mention features of those products and how yours stacks up, but don't directly slam a competitor; that is just bad business. It is a fine line to walk, but it is worth the extra work.

Watch Your Tone

Keep your tone friendly, use plain language when writing, and avoid jargon unless you are targeting a specific market that uses it. Always be clear, concise, and easy to understand. Write from the aspect of someone who knows nothing of your product, but never talk down to your customers.

Promise Only What You Can Deliver

Good advertising copy will get people excited about the product and how it benefits them, but it only promises what it can deliver. Do not deceive your customers by making promises you can't keep or stating that your product can do things it can't.

Think outside of the Box

Get creative and think outside of the box. Don't be afraid to move away from old standards. Advertising is all about new ideas and ground-breaking concepts. When you are writing ad copy, don't hesitate to step outside the norm and venture into a new area. People are becoming desensitized to common advertising, and the writer who presents a new twist to an ad and captures his or her audience's attention and imagination is usually a very successful one.

Test and Test Again

When you have your ad copy written and you have gone live with it, treat it as a work in progress. Test it again and again, tweaking one aspect at a time to see what works and what doesn't work. Record and measure your responses and keep making adjustments until your ad copy is getting the attention and response you want it to generate.
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