Writing Effective Copy
However for many businesses we have spoken to, advertising has been ineffective. This can be for a number of reasons, but it is usually as a result of the content being poorly written and the headline not successfully grabbing the attention of the target audience.
Here are some of the fundamentals of successful advertising for you to be aware of:
Developing the headline
When developing advertising copy, the most important element is the headline. The headline is the main title people are drawn towards – it needs to grab the readers’ attention. One change in a headline can produce a 50-100% change in response.
More information about this below.
Developing the main content
The content, or copy, needs to be personalised to the reader; addressing their needs, desires and fears. It must constantly communicate the benefits of what you are offering.
Include a call to action
Towards the end of the advert you must include a call to action. Tell people exactly what they should do to respond – make it as easy as possible.
If you’ve got an ad that’s working for you, it’s worth testing some changes to the headline or the main copy to see what results it produces. Above all, step into the shoes of your potential customers to get a real sense of the impact that it will have.
Being able to communicate to existing and prospective customers in writing is a vital skill for any business. But there is myth that writing copy is a complicated activity that can only be done successfully by ‘experts’.
This is not true. Writing good copy is like most other skills – There are some important basic principles that can be learned by anyone.
The Power of 3
0000 1. Benefits, Benefits, Benefits.
0000 2. Keep it simple and conversational
0000 3. Use the magic world – YOU
The Benefit of 4 – AIDA
All of the copy you develop for your marketing communications, whether in letters, brochures or your website, should follow the principle of AIDA.
Consumers are bombarded with hundreds of messages every day, through direct mail, advertising, radio and television. Now with the rise of the internet, media is even more fragmented than ever. There has never been more importance placed on the effectiveness of the messaging we use in our advertising.
Therefore, getting the headline right for your target audience is key to grabbing their attention and ensuring they read the rest of the advert.
Once you have attracted their attention, you need to create an interest in your product or service. This involves stepping into the shoes of your potential customer and developing insightful copy that communicates how your product or service will benefit them.
The next stop involves taking the initial interest and converting it into a strong desire for what you have to offer. You need to explicitly explain how you or your service will impact their lives.
Imagine that you are reading the copy as a potential customer for the first time. How does it make you feel? Is it just interesting or does it create a strong desire? Test your copy with other readers before you let it loose on the world. Value their feedback. You may not be in a position to spend thousands on market research so take advantage of family, friends and colleagues.
Desire alone is not enough. Many of us read brochures, letters and advertisements and plan to follow through with a purchase – but never get around to it. Your copy must end with a direct call to action. Tell your
potential customer precisely what to do (e.g. telephone call) and ask them to do it NOW. Including a cutoff date on special offers can encourage faster response rates
Remember you can always model your advertising on the experts. Take notice of the ads in the press, see what the multinationals do and learn from the thousands of pounds they spend testing advertising campaigns.
In any professional or business transaction, one side is always being asked to take on the risks. This will nearly always be your customers.
The more you can reduce the risk for your customers, the more successful you will be.
Risk Elimination is the process of making your interactions with your customers risk-free for them. When you eliminate the risk, you eliminate some of the prime objections that stop people from doing business with you.
Methods of Risk Elimination include:
Free Introductory Offers
Reduced Price Introductory Offers
The process of reducing or eliminating risk is not just limited to explicit offers. All of your communications to your customers (conversations, letters, brochures, internet etc) should address their fears and concerns. Part of meeting your customers’ needs is addressing their concerns and reducing their perception of risk.
Adding testimonials is another way to reduce your customer’s perception of risk. If a third party is doing it, it is worth consideration if nothing else.
How can you limit the risk to your customers of purchasing your goods or services?
A headline should convey the single most important benefit of your product or service, but the possibilities for creating a good headline are endless. Below are twelve ways to create an attention-grabbing headline:
The Invitation Headline
Ask the reader to take action. This is a great approach to products or services that are more expensive, refined, or elegant.
- A grand opening invitation
- Join us for a renovation celebration
- Join us for a premier on our big screen
The Offer Headline
An offer simply says what you want to say in the most straightforward way, but with enthusiasm.
- Winter coats – 50% OFF – one week ONLY!
- Buy 2 for the price of 1
- A full weekend for the price of one night
The Innovation Headline
Has your company produced it first? Are you the leader in your field? Do you have some innovative service? Do you have a solution to a problem? Position your company as the one who has the answers.
- The only 100% digital printer in Liverpool.
- You’ve probably never seen. . .
- Over 100 years experience. . .
The Question Headline
Formulate a question that the readers have asked themselves already – you are about to provide the answer! — The goal is to arouse curiosity. Question headlines can backfire if readers don’t care about finding out the answer.
- Know a friend who is moving?
- Did your appraisal miss your expectations?
- Want to know the real value of your home?
The Challenge or Command Headline
Tell a prospect exactly what to do. Challenges or commands can be effective because they confront the prospect, involving them instantly in your message.
- See what it takes to reach the sky
- Burn this ticket
- Aim high… buy New Horizons football boots
The Company Policies Headline
Do your company policies put you a cut above the competition? If so – say it! These claims back-up your “customers-first” or “socially-conscious” statements.
- No questions asked – Guaranteed!
- 30/60/90 days – same as cash
- Visa, Master Card, American Express, or Discover accepted
- Get it today – only on the web
The Play-on-words Headline
This technique is popular, but don’t be too clever or cutesy. Start with a common phrase and build from there.
- Clothes to dye for
- High in the sky – a fly away sale
- Be PHAT, not FAT
- Two for Tea
The Announcement Headline
This focuses on recent changes or developments, anything newsy, or a new product or service. You can also show a new way of applying an existing product or service or announce a special event or sale. If your product or service was given a favorable review in a newspaper or magazine, consider reprinting a sentence as the headline. Shout the words “Finally,” “Introducing,” “Announcing,” or “The First” in order to make your news heard by the recipient.
- FINALLY, four-colour business cards in 24 hours
- WOW, a wrinkle cream that WORKS!
- INTRODUCING a 2 for 1 lunch
The Explanation Headline
This type of headline explains the “How To” or Why” that readers want to know. It works because you promise the reader solutions, solid information, or sound advice.
- Why change oil every 3,000 miles?
- How to shop from home
- Use a mentor to get more business
The Emotional Needs Headline
Appeal to your prospects’ sympathies, arouse reader curiosity, or persuade readers with reasons.
- They need you. . .
- Even with 9 lives, a cat . . .
- 5 reasons to say YES!!!
The Testimonial Headline
The most powerful advertising is from people to people (word-of-mouth). Testimonials are powerful because they come from real people. These headlines let customers do the selling for you. Prospects have a tendency to follow the crowd. It’s the bandwagon effect. They want to be part of something successful. This is all reinforced by testimonials.
- I lost 2 dress sizes in 12 weeks
- Our entire family loves the deck you built us!
- I can finally relax!
The Qualities Headline
Be the best at what you do – and say so. When making claims that your product or service is high quality, don’t just say the word “quality” spell out what you mean by quality.
- Lasts twice as long as. . .
- Digital offset is sharper, crisper, and faster drying than. . .
- The industry leader. . .
Let your imagination run wild as you think of a big, bold graphic that will dramatise the major benefit of your product. Then think of any sentence – one to ten words – that will communicate the benefit. Don’t write just two or three headlines – write two dozen before you pick one. Ask your friends or employees for a snappy headline.
A clear identity and unique selling position must be established for your product or service that will put you in the “mind” of a prospect when they are making the decision to buy. The never-ending challenge in marketing is to position a business to stand out in the crowd. This positioning starts with your Headline.
1.What one thing did you learn from this lesson you can implement into your business today.