How To Write A Good Ad

What Is a Good Ad?

A good ad is one that inspires the customer response you want.

Now before you respond with a heartfelt, “Well, duh!”, answer this:
For each ad you approved for publication, did you tell your staff exactly what response you wanted that ad to inspire?

If not, why not?

What Do You Want?

How can you measure the effectiveness of an ad if everyone in your organization isn’t watching for the desired response?

Do you want to:
• get phone calls from prospective clients?
• have current clients feel a happy glow when they see your name?
• enhance your credibility?
• educate the marketplace about a new product or service?

How Do You Get What You Want?

This article summarizes key recommendations from advertising professionals and legends.

Informed consumers tend to be delightful clients and true business partners. So use this information to help you assess your promotions and to help you explain what’s missing when you talk to the person who’s creating your ads.

The Stuff (well, Advice) of Legends


Identify and Market the Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

• Your ads must make a truthful pledge to the reader, “If you buy this service or product, you will enjoy this specific benefit.”
• Your proposition must be unique–a claim that is not or cannot be made by the competition.
• Your proposition must be so enticing that it attracts a significant number of new customers.

If You Can’t Offer a USP, Show Some Dazzle Nearly 20 years later, copywriter Alastair Crompton said this about USP: “When you have nothing to say, use showmanship.” (“Put a tiger in your tank!”)

Narrow Your Focus

If there is much that can be said about your service or product, simplify your story so that your ad features a single point, such as safety, reliability, durability, or economy. (Alastair Crompton) When you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing. A laundry list of reasons is weaker than one powerhouse reason reinforced by ancillary reasons. (Herschel Gordon Lewis, Direct Mail Copy That Sells!)

Decide on the Image for Your Brand

“Image means personality. The personality of a product is the amalgam of many things–its name, its packaging, its price, the style of its advertising, and, above all, the nature of the product itself.

Every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution of the brand image.” (David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising)

Select the Motivating Factor for the Ad

The 4 Great Motivators in the Age of Skepticism: fear, guilt, greed, and exclusivity. (Herschel Gordon Lewis)

Another 6 Motivators: sex, love, affection, duty, honor, and professionalism. (John Caples and Fred Hahn, Tested Advertising Methods, fifth edition)

Select Your Strategic Approach

1. Unique selling proposition (USP)
2. Positioning: focus on the differences that make your product superior.
3. Preemptive: be the first to promote a feature or use for your type of product or service.
4. Generic: raise awareness about your type of product or service generally.
5. Brand Image: feature the personality or image for your brand.
6. Emotional: use ambiguity or humor to spark an emotional response.
7. Resonance: use a situation or lifestyle to inspire feelings of recognition or connection.

Add an Element That Persuades

• Social proof (“Over 2 billion sold.”)
• Commitment and consistency (“Create an heirloom.”)
• Liking (“There’s a hero in all of us.”)
• Authority (“Four out of five dentists agree.”)
• Reciprocation (“Call for a free copy.”)
• Scarcity (“Act now because supplies are limited!”)

Use a Good Headline

“In most advertisements, no matter how striking the illustration, the headlines are critically important. The majority of the public reads little else when deciding whether or not they are interested.” (Caples & Hahn)

6 Rules for Writing

1. Try to get self-interest into every headline.
2. If you have news about the product or service, feature it.
3. Avoid headlines designed simply to arouse curiosity.
4. Positive headlines tend to be more effective than negative headlines.
5. Suggest that there’s a quick and easy way for readers to achieve their goals.
6. Write headlines that are believable. (John Caples and Fred Hahn, Tested Advertising Methods, fifth edition)

Choose Your Words Carefully

Replace intellectual words with emotional words.

Test, Test, and Test Again

Show your proposed ad to friends and strangers and then ask general questions and specific questions about your readers’ perceptions and responses. Make sure that all of your ads support the strategic vision of your organization. Then edit, edit, edit!

Be Strategic With Your Advertising

Your job as an advertiser’s client is to identify your goal.

Your advertiser’s job is to answer the question, “How do we achieve this goal?”

Ideally, through your strategic advertising plan (which supports your strategic business plan). With a plan based on a consistent, coherent image,
• you get more for your advertising dollar because you build on repetition;
• you can design your advertising to take advantage of scheduled community or business events; and
• you are better prepared to respond quickly to opportunities for promotion and collaboration.



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About Richard Butler

Richard Butler has been marketing online since 1993. As well as having generated "affiliate" income, he also provides "done for you" solutions for small business owners & entrepreneurs: and has his only Web Hosting solution: He has also used his online skills in his Real Estate Investing business, where he is well known as the "video marketing" expert.

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