Effective Writing for Marketing and Advertising

As a small business owner you will soon find that you must do a lot of writing. This will include business forms, contracts, brochures, websites, ads, and more. Even if you wish to hirer a copywriter to do all the writing for you, you will need to provide them with the correct information so they can write effective copy. And you thought all those language arts classes were never going to help you in the real world! When it comes to writing for the purpose of marketing and advertising your company, there is more to know than proper grammar and spelling. Like strong design, strong marketing copy is essential to making the sale. I am going to give you the basic tools to write effective copy for all your marketing needs, even if you wish to have a professional write the final copy for you. Like any art, the more you practice writing the better you will be. Before you begin composing a particular marketing piece, be aware that the written content will determine the format of the piece. It can be very difficult to write content to fit the space of a predetermined format. Therefore, write your content before you determine the size of the ad, brochure or website to be created. You can always edit down your written content to fit in a set space later on. Now let's get started.

Keep it Clear and Fresh

The easier it is for the reader to understand your intentions the better. Keep the message clear and updated. Be precise and to the point.

Identify Your Message

You already have established your < a href="http://sarno.local/clientcenter/create-your-companys-core-marketing-message.html" title="Create your Company's Core Marketing Message"> Core Marketing Message for your business. Now make sure your marketing and advertising content reflects this Core Marketing Message. Keep in mind that if you have a large target audience, each piece of marketing material may also have its own additional message. Here are a few things to do to help organize that message:

  • Define the goal of this marketing piece. Are you branding or asking readers to do something after they read it?
  • Define the target audience. Will this piece target your entire target market or just a small segment?
  • Define what is unique about your product or service.
  • Find out what your competition is saying and why. What are you offering that they are not?
  • Make an offer for them to act now!
  • Define the call to action. What do you want the reader to do after reading the piece?

Sell Benefits, Not Features

Readers don't really care about what you do or what you are selling. They are more concerned about what you can do for them and how they will benefit from what you are selling. Therefore, give them what they want. Tell them the benefits of working with you or buying your product. Your copy should always focus on the reader. It’s helpful to make a list of all the features and benefits your product or services will provide to the reader. Then, think back to the target audience for this particular project and choose the benefits that are most important to them. Once you have defined the most important benefit, write the rest of your copy around that benefit. Don't forget to write about how your features will accomplish this benefit. It is not enough to tell someone you will save them time and make them feel special. Anyone can promise that. They want to know how you will save them time and make them feel special with your particular service or product.

All Purchases Are Made through Emotion

No one buys a product or service; they buy the emotions that result from purchasing your product or service. The benefits that you are selling are the positive emotions your customers feel when they purchase from you. Everyone wants to feel good, smart, thrifty, pampered, special, and more. It is your job as a copywriter to sell those feelings as a result of buying your product. This is essential for repeat business. Pick an emotion that you want your target audience to feel when they buy from you and sell it in your writing.

Give Some Drama, Baby

Everyone likes a good story, and a little drama always adds excitement. See if you can find some drama in your product or service and write about it. Try to dramatize your benefits over the competition. Just make sure you are not too dramatic. We are not going for theater here, just a little excitement. Your reader is looking for information, so make sure your bit of drama has the important information the reader is looking for. This is especially important when you write for websites. The drama must be appropriate for your product.

Be Credible

You need to gain the reader's trust by being honest. Focus your writing on stating your case, a case that appeals to both the intellect and emotion of the reader. Remember, people buy on emotion. They want to feel smart and happy about their purchase, and they want to feel they can trust you. Refrain from making outlandish and hard-to-believe claims. Back up your claims with facts or statistics and refrain from using flamboyant adjectives. Successful copy uses minimal adjectives. This is why we keep the drama to a low to medium key.

Write … and Then Write Some More

Write down all your ideas, both good and bad. You never know where your ideas may lead you. Then go over your ideas and write some more. The more you have to work with the better. Each time you write your copy, make sure you:

  • Attract attention. A strong heading will do this well. Ask a question, make a bold statement, anything that will make your target audience want to read more.
  • Pull them in. Now that you have their attention, you need to give them more information to keep them reading. Do this by adding details about your benefits that support your bold heading and keeps them turning or clicking pages.
  • State your case. Why should readers buy from you? Make an argument about your value and the advantage of buying from you or the value of your product.
  • Be persuasive. Tell your readers what they want to hear on their terms and what is in it for them. Remember, the copy is all about the reader.
  • Make them an offer they can't refuse. If they act now they can get free information, a discount, additional services, a booklet in the mail. Anything free is always hard to pass up.
  • Provide a call to action. This is so important. Why is the reader reading your copy? Should he go to your location? Call you? Log on to your website? Your reader can't do anything unless you tell him to. So tell him to call or go to your website. Always post your phone number, website, or any information he needs to complete the sale. Make it easy to contact you.

Give It the Spin Cycle

As I stated before, clean copy is best for marketing and advertising. The most successful ads make a point quickly and precisely. Now is the time to thin out your copy and make sure you only write what you must say. Avoid any redundancies or extraneous copy. It is easy if you pretend you are writing for the classifieds and you will be charged for every word. Go over your writing and follow these guidelines:

  • Does every word make its point?
  • If the word is not needed then remove it, save for good grammar.
  • Did I keep from repeating myself?
  • Have I used short phrases or catch words?
  • Have I avoided clichés?
  • Have I used the active voice, not the passive voice? In other words, write: “This widget will make you feel wonderful.” Don't use this: “You will feel wonderful by using the widget.” The widget is “acting” upon your emotions.
  • Have I used all positive words and phrases? No one wants to read “You're a fool if you pass this up.” It is better to write: “Act now! You will be glad you did.”

Try It Out

Now that you have something that you feel accomplishes your goals, have colleagues, family and friends read it out loud. Don't tell them your intentions. Instead, study their reactions and write down any questions that they have. This will tell you if you hit your mark. If they say it is a clever heading, you may have missed your intention. If they ask you questions about your product, then you got them interested. Finally, ask someone who is unfamiliar with your product or service to read it out loud. See if they stumble on any of the words or concepts. And if they are confused about what your product or service is, that’s a sure sign that you need to rewrite your copy.

Proof Your Results

Even professional copywriters have proofreaders. It is easy to miss your own mistakes. Have someone who hasn't read your copy go over your writing, looking for proper spelling and grammar. Bad spelling and grammar can kill your professional image just as fast as a bad design. Now that you have the fundamentals, practice makes perfect. The more you write, the better your marketing will be. Enjoy your writing. You will find it will help you better understand your business and help you to better communicate with your customers.