How to write effective ads

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If you advertise your business, how do you plan your advertising copy? 

“The primary objective behind writing advertising copy is to stimulate buyers to act. To pick up the phone and call you, or visit your office personally,” says Doug Malouf, founder of DTS International. Malouf and his accredited trainers work in the areas of sales, customer service, management development and communication skills. 

“Planning and writing great advertising copy won’t strike you like a bolt of lightning, so be prepared to think through your copywriting strategy,” he says.

Malouf says that to produce effective work, the copywriter needs time for analysis, development and creativity.

“They must analyse the state of the market and the needs of consumers. What do they want? There is a need to be creative in finding ways of drawing attention to the advertisement. Which type of advertisement will be most effective?” he says.

Before you put pen to paper, you need to know what the buyer wants to know, he says. Malouf says that if your phones aren’t running hot, then your advertisements don’t have what it takes. 

Here are his four essential characteristics of effective advertising copy:

1. Attention

Good advertising copy grabs the reader’s attention. You have to help readers realise that you have information which might be of interest to them. You have to grab their attention by highlighting a key idea or an important item of information. Headings can be useful.

Just remember: If those eyes don’t stop moving across the page to focus on your advertisement, you’re not even in the market place.

Headlines can grab their attention. What happens next depends on the quality of the rest of your copy.

2. Arouse interest

Arouse the buyers’ interest by telling them the things they want to know. More on this later.

3. Appeal to the emotions

If you want your advertisement to come alive you have to use words that activate the mental camera in the minds of your readers. Be creative. Make them see the property you’re advertising.

4. You must get action!

It doesn’t matter how interested the customers are in the property if they don’t know who to contact. Make sure this information is clear. You must prompt immediate action to your advertisement.

When the telephone starts ringing, you know your copy is doing its job. Take note of its style and the type and price of property it worked for.

Learning to write effective advertising copy is important or else you will waste your hard earned dollars. Getting an advertising agency to write it for you is beyond the budget of most small operators. 

The best thing to do is to learn how to write it yourself – no-one knows your business and the customers you’re trying to reach better than you.

So, how do you get started?

Malouf says that first, you’ll need:

Blank paper or your computer

Plenty of time

A willingness to think creatively.

He says that the only way to develop your copywriting skills is to practice as often as possible and read it out aloud after you’ve written it.

Other tips from Malouf:

Be analytical and ask yourself these questions:

Does it have the qualities of a good advertisement? Be critical

Always start with a blank sheet of paper and always write down every idea that comes into your head. Most might be rubbish, but you may stumble over a gem

Will it gain a buyer's attention?

Does it arouse their interest?

Does it help them visualise your service or product?

Be objective

“If you know you can’t, test the advertisement on a friend and then quickly ask the above questions. In practising your copywriting skills, don’t be afraid to be creative. 

“Lots of people feel that they just aren’t creative. However, even the people who are considered the most creative quite often don’t use their own ideas. They use other people’s ideas and expand on them or view them from a unique angle,” he says.

Malouf has developed the ‘Ten Commandments for Copywriters’ that you may want to pin up near your desk ready for your next advertisement.

  1. Know the strengths of your products or services
  2. List their best features
  3. Set regular times for writing your advertisements. We are all creatures of habit. Getting into a good routine helps
  4. Create new copy. Don’t just rehash the old unless you’ve really seen it to be effective
  5. Keep it simple. Don’t oversell
  6. Use the headline approach to get attention
  7. Give the readers the information they want
  8. Write copy that creates mental pictures
  9. Tell the story. Don’t just tell the facts. But don’t stray from the truth, either
  10. Constantly change your copy. Variety is the key to effective copy, even if the changes are only subtle. It may mean more work, but it means more sales too.

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