Writing Eye Catching Ads That Get AttentionWhen written properly, advertisements can be an effective way to capture sales. However, poorly written advertisements can also have a negative effect on your customer base. Learning to write advertisements means understanding how to write clearly, concisely, and engagingly to your target audience. For this reason, writing blanket advertisements is generally impractical. Instead, you want to target those who are looking for and intending to buy what you're selling. To do this, you need to be sure to highlight the positive and unique characteristics of your product--what sets it apart from others. In addition, you want to make sure that you emphasize the characteristics that make your product fulfill your customer base's needs. For instance, advertising a new piece of fitness equipment as having "excellent performance" is too bland a statement. In this statement, you simply claim that your product does what it is designed to do--something that customers should expect. A better way to write about this product is to highlight the comfortably contoured seat, saying that it "allows you to lose weight while providing the comfort that other machines don't have." This way, you target your audience--people who want to lose weight, but think it will be uncomfortable--while also highlighting a unique aspect of your product that differentiates it from others.
In keeping this general advice in mind when writing advertisements, you'll be able to more effectively sell your product. However, it's not just the tone or style that makes a great advertisement. Instead, each advertisement has specific components that need to be written well in order to be persuasive—an introduction, body, and conclusion.
What you learned about introductions in high school--that they need to both capture the audience's attention and lay out what you'll say in the rest of the paper--is true about introductions in advertising. However, in other pieces of writing, capturing the audience's attention is advisable, but not crucial, as the reader generally has the desire to continue reading the piece because of its subject matter. In advertising, consumers are bombarded. They don't like reading advertisements, and even if they see one for a product they are looking for, they probably won't read it unless it’s unique and attention-grabbing.
So how do you capture your target audience’s attention? Start with a line that jumps out from the computer screen. Beginning with "the Ross brand toaster tops the charts in both style and performance" is boring. For your introduction, you want to start out with something like this: "Whenever your grandmother comes for dinner, she exclaims that your toaster is the same one she had growing up, and she compliments you on the retro style of your kitchen. Except that wasn't what you were going for." This kind of an opening targets your audience--people who want stylish appliances--and it's interesting to read. It draws upon experiences that much of your targeted customer base can relate to, and it presents a mock story that your readers are interested in. They want to know how it ends, and so are compelled to keep reading.
In the body of your advertisement, you want to keep your reader's attention, but you also want to use some marketing techniques that will help you sell your product. First, it is important to use strong language, words that call your reader to action. Call to action words are simply what they sound like, words that convince your readers that they should act on your advertisement now. Some examples of call to action phrases include “buy now,” “call today,” and “visit us online.” These words implore and encourage your reader to act immediately. What you don’t want to do is use weak language that suggests acting is one of a number of acceptable actions. Some examples of weak language include “you might want to contact us today” and “if you are interested, you can contact us.” Although both the first and second examples contain words that mean the same thing, the second examples imply that readers don’t necessarily have to act on the advertisement. By using words like “might” and “can,” the second examples suggest that customers may want to search elsewhere or begin a relationship with another company.
This kind of advice applies to the rest of the advertisement as well. As a rule, it’s best to stay away from words like “might,” “may,” and “can.” If you think that your product can do something, it’s just best to state this as a fact. For instance, you want to write, “The Jones camera is the best choice for the amateur photographer who wants a professional.” You don’t want to write, “The Jones camera might be the right choice for the amateur photographer who wants a professional look.” The “might” in the second sentence makes the statement weak, implying that the camera may not be a good choice. Consumers can subconsciously think this means that companies don’t have confidence in their own products, so they will be less likely to act. Remember that your advertisements are targeted to an audience who is already interested in or looking for your product. You don’t have to use weak language to suggest humility in hopes that an uninterested person will buy your product. An uninterested person is not going to buy that product, no matter how good the advertisement sounds. Interested customers, however, will respond to strong wording and calls to action because they are often already considering the action long before it is actually stated in the advertisement. By using straightforward, clear, and strong language that implores the customer to act immediately, you’re likely to get better results.
Second, you want to continue a pattern of strength and clarity by including prices. Many advertisers think that including prices will persuade consumers against purchasing their products. Nothing can be farther from the truth. When advertisements do not include prices, consumers generally think that the item being advertised is too expensive. This is true even when an advertiser tries to get around naming a specific price by being unspecific about prices; for instance: “economically priced” or “affordable.” As an advertisement copywriter, you want to stay away from this type of wording, favoring specific prices. It’s better to write “only $29.99” rather than “economically priced” because customers tend to think that their idea of what is economical may be less than what others deem affordable. Because of this vague wording, customers are already beginning to think that they can’t afford the product. However, using a specific price moves customers in the other direction. They begin thinking about the next step—actually buying the product that is being advertised. They start calculating the cost, and whether or not they can afford it. This brings customers much closer to actually purchasing than the unspecified price. An unspecified price may lead to the customer forgetting the ad, convinced that he or she can’t afford the product.
Third, however, you don’t want to dwell too much on cost. It’s also effective to bring up any special offers and unique selling points. This way, customers are dwelling not on the price of an item, but on the deals that can help them obtain a product at a bargain and the reasons why it is important for them to purchase it. For instance, you might advertise that a cell phone costs $199.99, but then you can recommend that customers use a rebate, special coupon, or “buy one, get one free” deal to help them make the purchase. Like other parts of advertisement writing, it is the specifics that matter most when mentioning special offers. If you use vague language, customers will not be convinced to take advantage of those offers, often because they will think the offers are not significant. For instance, if you are selling a printer, and are willing to offer the customer a rebate for trading in his or her old printer, it’s best to specifically state that in the ad. Writing, “Trade in your old printer today for $10 off the purchase of a Borman printer” is more effective than “visit our web site for special offers.” Like including prices, including special offers moves the customer to the next level; he or she is now contemplating buying the product, and using the special offer to make that purchase.
When listing unique selling points, specifics are also beneficial. Remember, you want to focus on points that make your products unique and don’t just recap what the product does. Watches should tell time; phones should make calls; ovens should bake. If you have a watch that comes with a lifetime, unbreakable warranty, a cell phone that also works as a GPS, or an oven that is fantastically easy to clean, then emphasize these points using specific detail. The following is a good example of an advertisement that highlights a product’s unique characteristics:
“You bought these boots because you thought the salesperson said they were waterproof. Now, you’re three blocks away from home and your socks are soaked, again. You could go back to the store to buy rain boots, but when you show up in your business suit and yellow, rubber boots for your job interview, you don’t think it will make a great impression. Instead, buy Smith’s waterproof spray, which you can use to make any shoe waterproof. Unlike other products, Smith’s is odorless, and works after one application. Because it dries in 30 minutes, you can spray Smith’s on the pair of shoes you planned to wear before you found out about the rain. Only $19.99, Smith’s contains enough formula in each bottle to cover 10 pairs of shoes. Print an online coupon for $2 off, and buy today by visiting our web site, www.smiths.com/waterproof.”
After only briefly mentioning what the product does, this advertisement specifically denotes its unique selling points—it’s odorless, works after one application, and dries quickly. If the advertisement had spent too much time detailing what the product does or had been vague about the selling points, the same effect would not have been achieved. For instance, the following is a poor example of an advertisement for the same product:
“Smith’s waterproof spray is a formula that is designed to make any shoe waterproof. Composed of a unique formula that works with the molecules in your shoe—you can use Smith’s on everything from canvas to leather. Smith's comes in an aerosol can, so it is easy to spray onto your shoes. Smith's dries quickly, and you only have to apply it once for it to work. Simply apply Smith’s, slip on your shoes, and you’re ready to go, even if it’s pouring down rain. If you’re always getting your feet wet on rainy days, you might want to consider Smith’s. Smith's is affordably priced, especially considering that it contains enough formula to cover many pairs of shoes. If you’re interested in Smith’s, you can visit our web site for some special offers.”
Not only is this advertisement boring, but it also spends too much time repeating what the product is intended to do. Giving vague information about unique selling points, the advertisement doesn’t follow the rules when it comes to a catchy intro, strong language, and specific information. When you compare the two advertisements, it’s easy to see why customers would be more likely to buy the product after reading the first advertisement.
The fourth step to writing eye-catching advertisements is to consider keywords. Search engine optimization and the use of strategically incorporated keywords are effective tools in online advertising. However, while search engine optimization can be an excellent way to encourage interested customers to access your advertisement, it can also be a way to lose sales. Advertisement copywriters want to use keywords in their ads in order to earn a listing in the search engine results. When customers search for words relevant to the advertiser’s product, the advertiser wants his or her ad to be high on the list of search results. To do that, keywords are necessary. But when the text of the advertisement does not relate well to the keywords listed in the writing, customers will not be convinced to buy. The overuse of keywords or the inappropriate use of keywords makes an advertisement seem useless; it’s purpose is simply to draw potential customers to a web site rather than to give those customers information about whether or not the product might be right for them. For instance, the following is an example of an overuse of keywords:
“If you’re looking for a digital camera, finding a digital camera can be difficult because there are not many digital cameras built to meet excellent digital camera standards.”
Not only does this sentence use the word “digital camera” too often, but it also does not give customers any truly useful information about the product for sale. A better use of keywords can be seen in the following sentences:
“The Picturemax digital camera offers easy to use buttons and a high-quality picture. On a test of digital cameras, the Picturemax version scored higher than others.”
While you want to use keywords in your advertisement, you want to follow the second example instead of the first. Use keywords where logical and applicable, though not too often; and make sure that the advertisement is relevant to the keywords and interesting for the customer to read.
The fifth and final step to making your advertisement body appealing and eye-catching to your customers is to include specific details about where the customer can find additional information. Generally, this is a web site. Referring back to the two Smith’s waterproof spray examples, you can see both an excellent and a poor example of mentioning a web site in your advertisement. In the first example, the advertisement lists a specific page on a web site where interested customers can go to learn more details. In the second example, a web site is mentioned, but no address is given. In order to encourage consumers to follow up with the advertisement, it’s best to not only list a web site for them to visit, but also to mention the specific page on that web site where they can find more information about the product they are reading about. Including a link is even more beneficial.
After you’ve followed these five steps to create your body, all that’s left is a conclusion. And advertisement conclusions are easy. Simply end with a call to action and a re-emphasis on why the product is important. For example, “Buy Smith’s today and you’ll be dry tomorrow.” If you started a story in your introduction, you want to conclude it here. For instance, if you describe a busy mom not having time to cook dinner in your introduction, conclude with the fact that the busy mom now has time to relax, after buying the product.
When written following these rules, creating advertisements is not only easy, but effective. Get started by remembering the audience, being clear and convincing, and always mentioning the specifics.