1. Keep Thy Audience
Don’t make the mistake of assuming you know what your customers want. Do your homework. Speak to customers. Attend their trade shows. Read the publications they read. The goal: to identify an unsatisfied need.
2. Be Different
Even if you can’t find an unsatisfied need, you can focus on a need the competition doesn’t talk about. If you are the first to talk about this benefit, the consumer assumes you are the only one who offers this advantage. Yes, the competition will eventually catch up, but in the mean time you have a distinct marketing advantage that should translate into increased sales.
3. Sell Benefits, not Features
Remember the first time you saw the TV ads showing a baby sitting in a tire. That ad worked because if was different (Point #2) and it highlighted an irresistible benefit; your loved ones are safer when you use our tires. Talking about all the features of the tire (thick tread, special rubber) that deliver this safety would impress an engineer, but it does little for a customer.
4. Write a Killer Headline
Forget cute puns or blind offers (headlines should make clear the nature of the product or the key benefit). When you are done, put your headline to the test. Have you provided a strong reason to continue reading the ad? If not, everything that follows is irrelevant, because the reader won’t read on.
5. Graphics? BIG is Better
An effective headline, with a strong supporting graphic, is more powerful than just a headline. But don’t use multiple graphics, especially when you are working in a relatively small space. In fact, in a small place, you should use the biggest graphic possible. Why? Big graphics attract the eye, little graphics are ignored. One other thing, don’t use every font in your computer. Use a sans serif for the headline, a serif for the body copy.
6. Clear Writing
Please, no industry jargon or self-indulgent expressions of you mastery of the English language. Write simple. Write clear. Get your ad proofed by someone who passed grade nine English. If you have trouble stringing together sentences, use bullet points. It’s not sophisticated, but it works.
7. Tell and Sell
“I do advertising. I’m dedicated to excellence. I have been in business for years. Call me.” Would you respond to that ad? Not likely. Give the reader a specific reason to call you. Follow that with the next best reason. Do this well and the reader is left with just one conclusion – I have something to gain by calling. Caution: if you end up with an ad that sounds and looks like a competitive ad, go back to Point #2.
8. Talk to the Customer, not Yourself
Avoid like the plague “We” advertising, which usually goes like this: “We do quality work. We are dedicated to excellence. We are in business for the long run.” Who cares?! Don’t tell the consumer you are dedicated to excellence – prove it! Provide statistics or testimonials that clearly demonstrate your company is a cut above the rest.
9. More Ads. More Sales
A single ad is not enough to generate and maintain response. You need multiple insertions to make it onto a consumer’s short list of prospects. It also helps if you are making contact in other ways.
10. Ask for the Sale
Many ads fail because they fail to ask for a response. You must ask the reader to respond by phone or fax or e-mail, and make sure those numbers are as big as possible. It makes a difference – Pizza Pizza built a huge business just by hammering home their telephone number again and again and again.