“Cash customers and ADS that sell” …
Most people wrongly believe that good ads have to be funny, well written or visually dramatic. The truth is, the very best ads work because of the strategy behind them.
Here’s a good analogy. If you’ve prepared a delicious meal and your dinner guests are hungry, they don’t care what kind of plates you use. Put another way, if your message and offer appeals to the people you’re writing to, it barely matters how you present it.
Of course, there are things you can do to make your ad clearer, more direct and more interesting, but these are definitely secondary concerns. If your strategy is wrong, the best penmanship combined with the best graphic design in the world won’t save you.
Imagine trying to encourage teenagers to invest $40 cash a week for their retirement. On the surface, it sounds like a reasonable idea, but realistically, you’d be lucky to get a single interested adolescent. The strategy is completely wrong. First, you’re going after the wrong group of people and second, the amount you’re asking for probably exceeds their weekly income.
That’s an extreme example, but a good one to highlight the problem with most advertising – it’s saying the wrong thing to the wrong people.
Usually ads are saying nothing much to no one in particular. That’s a far more serious issue. If you’ve been writing the kind of ads that just say ‘hi there, my business name is x, and my phone number is y’, then you shouldn’t be surprised if your ads haven’t brought you success. These types of ads rarely do anything except fund a newspaper or magazine. People will NOT read them unless you promise to give them something.
Behind all of this is a strategy. So let’s define the word ‘strategy’ – it means a plan, what you want people to do and how you’re going to get them to do it.
Let’s take an example. A local butcher wants to place an ad. Not being the smartest businessman, he simply writes his name at the top and his phone number at the bottom. He sits back, looking over his ad – this will bring in heaps of customers’ he mistakenly thinks. Of course, nobody bothers to look at his ad – it’s completely uninteresting.
He’s missing a strategy. So let’s work one out for him. Firstly, we need to think about what it is he’s trying to achieve. Put simply, he wants to encourage people to come in and buy their meat from him.
But we have to be more specific when we say ‘people’. Thinking about it, he’s really interested in the people who do their weekly grocery shopping in the local area.
So, how’s he going to encourage these people to come in – they’re probably already quite satisfied shopping at the supermarket four minutes down the road. He needs a good reason for them to come in and see him. How about a special offer – for every $10 you spend on meat, you get a $3 credit. That’s not bad – people would probably go out of their way to claim that. Throw in a larger choice of meats, cheaper prices, higher quality and friendly service and you’ve got something that looks like a strategy.
Once people have come in and taken up his special offer, they’re more likely to come back again next week. He may not make a killing on the first ad, but he will see some customers, as opposed to NONE. Over time, this strategy will pay off with repeat and referral cash business.
So give it some thought – what is your strategy? WHO do you want to do WHAT and HOW are you going to encourage them to take that action now?
Stop Being Clever …
One of the most common mistakes people make when they first start writing advertising copy, is being too ‘clever’. They try to impress people with their ability to write humorous or ‘clever’ advertising copy, rather than simply getting the sales message across.
So why do they fall into this trap? Well, it’s simply what they’ve learned from what they’ve seen, heard or read. It’s what we’ve all been exposed to through years of advertising copy in magazines, newspapers, television commercials and radio campaigns.
See, all around the world advertising agencies spend thousands of dollars trying to produce award winning advertisements.
These ‘clever’ advertisements are not designed to make sales for their clients but rather impress judges presiding over major awards. The judges themselves have no interest in how successful a campaign has been. They simply look for the best play on words, the biggest, the brightest or the funniest advertisements.
They miss the point to the whole exercise: Making Cash Sales.
Advertising is about one thing and one thing only … getting people to buy your product or services. Getting customers coming through the door and spending money with you.
The problem with ‘clever’ advertising is simply that it doesn’t make people buy. To prove my point, consider how many ads you read, see or hear in the course of an average day. If you consider the
number of billboards, in-store displays, window signs, taxi-backs and outdoor signage you go past on an average day, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that you, like most people, are exposed to over 1,500 advertisements each day!
Now how many of those do you stop and take notice of? How many can you actually recall seeing? Probably not too many. In many cases people would be lucky to remember 10. Not many out of more than 1,500. It’s hardly surprising we can recall only a handful, after all, if we were to stop and pay attention to every ad we were exposed to, we’d spend our entire day reading advertisements.
So the problem with ‘clever’ advertisements is that people simply don’t have the time to stop and think about what the ads trying to say. If your ad doesn’t get the sales message across fast, it will fail to achieve its true purpose – additional sales.
To give you an idea of how this works, consider these 2 headlines for a fish and chip shop trying to advertise a 2 for 1 fillet of fish promotion in a newspaper –
“If you think there’s something fishy about this offer, you’re right …”
“Buy one fillet of fish, get another fillet FREE!”
Now the first headline uses a clever play on words. A ‘fishy’ offer in relation to a fish sale is quite humorous. But people have to stop and think about what it means. Chances are that rather than reading the rest of the ad, they’ll simply turn the page and keep going. Compare this to the second headline which gets the message across fast. Anyone thinking about what they were going to have for dinner that night would be tempted to read on.
The second ad might not be as glamorous, bit it works.
It’s all about getting people to read your ad, and then take action. If people have to decipher what you’ve written they’ll simply pass over your ad and forget about you altogether. Writing ads is not about making people laugh, or having them think you’re a genius. It’s about communicating with them in the fastest, clearest possible way.
The average person is not skilled in reading comprehension. For the majority of people, if it’s not spelled out to them, they won’t be able to understand. You need to realise that writing ads is not about you the writer, it’s about making people understand. If you want to write for your own selfish reasons then copywriting is not for you. You’d be better off writing novels or short stories. There’s no place for big egos when it comes to writing ads.
If you want to be a copywriter you need to forget about beautiful writing styles and creative expression and focus instead on getting your message across in a fast and efficient manner. It might not win you any awards but it will win you a lot of satisfied clients and repeat business.
Take care, take action and be relentless…
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