How to Write Ad Copy that Sells
©Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.
When I write copy for my advertising clients, I always check to make sure the
three key elements are in place. 1. psychology, 2. logic, and 3. creativity. These are three very different aspects
of ad writing, which, when combined, produce a highly effective message. Master the technique of each, and create
ads that really sell!
It doesn’t matter which part you address when. You can write out a first draft and then go back and insert the
missing aspects, or you can craft your copy piece by piece and then put it all together at the end. For the most
part, I tend to piece together my message, but you can work however you’d like.
Advertising wouldn’t be advertising without psychology. How else would you persuade or convince people that your
product is outstanding in its category? What other way is there to go about creating a need for what you sell?
Persuasion relies on emotional appeal, and emotions are driven by our psychological make-up. A long time ago,
someone thought up the AIDA method, which is good enough to serve my purpose in explaining the psychology of
advertising. It’s really very simple. A.I.D.A. Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
Attention: Capture your audience’s attention right away, with a riveting photo and headline. Exceptional ads
showcase headlines and images that work together. (Read more about this in the paragraph about creativity.)
Interest: If you wrote a good headline, likely they’ll be intrigued and continue reading. Your ad copy is where you
can isolate a fear, problem, concern or need of theirs. Then go right into:
Desire. Make them want what you have. Pose your product as the solution to the aforementioned problem. Build your
case with examples, or even testimonials.
Action. Finally, tell your audience what to do. Buy Now! Cick here and save! It’s amazing what just a quick
directive will do.
The next key feature of your message should be logic. By logic, I’m referring to how you order the words and
sentences in your message to make your point. A good writer knows to craft his message in an outline form- with the
first paragraph driven by a main idea, and supporting sentences following that premise. Each paragraph should
reinforce what’s been said in the main paragraph. This is basic English, and it’s the key to crafting a solid
argument. You should be able to convert your sentences to bullet points if you had to- with each bullet logically
supporting a main concept. In fact, you may even want to use bullets, as they’re a quick way to sum up the benefits
of what you sell with no extra words to dilute the impact of what you say.
Finally, creativity is what will give your ad presentation that POW, and your copy that extra sparkle that makes it
interesting to read. Earlier, I mentioned headlines and images that work together conceptually. What I mean by this
is a play on words that’s reinforced by an image. This is the stuff of amazing advertising, the kind that brings
home a Cleo or an Addy award! Think of those incredibly powerful Nike ads: Just Do It. Tell you customer something
they won’t forget, and use a dramatic photo to cement your message into their brains. Map out your long-term
campaign, if you plan on having one, following the same creative concept in each ad. This is brand-building at its
Infuse creativity into your written message. Write in a clever and/or amusing way, and make your ad stand out from
the crowd. Use a tone that’s appropriate to your audience. Choose words that belong to that particular genre.
At any point during the conception of your written material, you can brainstorm words or phrases that your audience
uses and will likely respond to. I call this “learning their language.” What this is, essentially, is imitation.
Remember when you were a little kid playing make-believe? (okay, maybe you don’t--but I do!) Play make-believe now.
To warm up, read some existing material that relates to your target group. Next, sit in a quiet spot and pretend
you ARE your key customer. Write out a list of their expressions. I wrote web copy for a high-end caterer last
month. To get my thoughts flowing, I made a list of words. “Sophistication, delectable, tasteful, elegant” so on
and so forth. When I was done thinking of as many different words as possible, I was ready to inject them into my
copy. Replace lackluster words with more zippy ones. But use your adjectives and adverbs sparingly! There’s such a
thing as copy overkill, and it will make you look like an amateur.
No matter how you approach the creation process, the most powerful ads require that each of these key elements are
in place. Again: you can implement them in any order. When you’re ready to bring it all together, take a good, hard
look at your finished draft. Go through it with a fine-tooth comb. Get a couple of outside opinions. Step away, for
a little while, and then go back to it when you’ve cleared your mind. Make your changes, then give it a final
once-over. Your final presentation should be error-free and perfect in every way!
To those that think advertising is an easy or slap-dash process: not true at all! The greatest ads are a perfect
fusion of three very different modes of thought, expertly combined and presented in a powerfully compelling and
persuasive package. Realize this, and you’re on the way to creating magical ad copy; the kind that sells!
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