Writing copy for advertising material is a skill that can be mastered through practise. By applying these guidelines, one can learn how to write copy that sells a client’s products.
How to Create an Advertising Strategy
From producing long copy ads to crafting punchy headlines, copywriters are responsible for a brand’s language. Before launching into writing copy, any copywriter first needs to understand the advertising strategy.
An ad consists of two parts: the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. The ‘what’ is the strategy – the plan, the ad’s big idea or concept, its selling argument; the ‘how’ is the execution of that strategy – the particular form it takes: the images, language, layout and media placement (radio, print, television, etc.). To develop a strong strategy, copywriters need to understand three elements: the product, the consumer, and the marketplace.
- The product: What exactly is the client selling?
- The consumer: Who is the client selling to?
The marketplace: How does the client’s product (and its advertising) fit into the array around it?
In George Felton’s Advertising: Concept and Copy¬ – 2nd ed.(NY: W.W. Norton & Company) he writes, “Your goal is to understand the parts of the advertising scenario so well that you see how they all fit together – to know enough to write an ad that works, that talks to real people about real needs.” Thus writing copy for ads does not happen in a vacuum, but many elements, as mentioned above, should be considered.
How to Write Slogans
Slogans are also called taglines, theme lines or payoff lines. Many brands use these lines effectively as a means to create brand recall and recognition in the consumer’s mind. When applied correctly, slogans can contribute to a brand’s identification and increase awareness. Slogans are meant to be short, simple, to the point and easily recognisable. Here are some guidelines to help copywriters to think up slogans:
Elevate the product: Look for the product’s greatest benefit, emphasise it.
Differentiate from the competition.
Don’t sell features, but benefits: It’s not about what the product offers, but how those features can be turned into real benefits for the consumer.
Find the human truth: Say what people are thinking. Through tapping into the consumer’s mind, copywriters can make the advertising communication more real.
Try parallelism and opposition: By placing ideas or notions against or next to each other, copywriters can highlight the product’s benefit.
Tweak, twist, or add a cliché: Play around with well-known phrases, twist them and see what happens.
Play tricks with type and punctuation: If it works for the brand, bring in punctuation that adds more meaning to the message.
Don’t be clever, be clear: The most successful slogans are those that stick to one message and are to the point.
Keep it short, simple: Effective slogans are the ones that are short and crisp.
Above all, solve the problem: Slogans need to solve advertising problems and should say what is most needed.
Ten Tips for Writing More Effective Copy
- Use the following tick list when writing copy for ads:
- Don’t use fancy words.
- Omit adjectives and adverbs.
- Describe the benefit of the product, not the feature.
- Write like the consumer speaks.
- Keep copy focused on one main idea.
- Focus on one, clear Unique Selling Point (USP) of the brand.
- Try to find words that stick, like Nike’s ‘Just Do It’.
- Check spelling. There is no excuse for a copywriter to make spelling mistakes
- Test consumer’s reactions to the copy, adjust if necessary.
Craft copy again and again, until it’s just right.