What makes your ads, sales letters, web sites and other marketing materials as hard-hitting and sure-selling as possible?
Certainly, you must start with a product or service that delivers genuine benefits and authentic value to your customers and prospects. And each individual marketing piece must concentrate on one single big idea. It also helps to illustrate the benefits or product in a compelling way. Lastly, you must establish a program of regular communications with prospects and customers, because out-of-sight-out-of-mind is nowhere more true than in marketing.
But those are just the beginning-now you must COMMUNICATE the genuine benefits and authentic value of your product or service to prospective buyers in a compelling and persuasive way.
Follow these ad writing tips to do that:
1. WRITE AS YOU TALK. Your company or product has a "personality," and that character has a voice. Use that voice in your copy. Make it sound like written speech, a printed conversation between your company's or store's "personality" and your buyer. Your tone, style and particular word choices will be different, for example, if your company belongs to the Mercedes crowd rather than the Kia crowd, or if you are a trend-setter versus a safe, traditional operator.
2. WRITE DOWN FEATURES AND BENEFITS BEFORE YOU START. People don't buy what your product or service is - they buy what it does for them. Are your customers buying color printers, or the enhanced impact of color presentations? Are they buying a furnace, or the reliable, low-cost comfort it brings? Are they buying "friendly service," or the education that service brings them, and the time and effort that service saves them? Writing down features and benefits forces you to concentrate on your product or service from both your point of view (features) and your customer's (benefits).
3. WRITE FROM THE "YOU" POINT OF VIEW. Corporations don't sell. People do. Make every communication a one-to-one conversation, emphasizing how important the individual customer is and what you can do for that customer. Here are some phrases to keep you on track:
4. VARY SENTENCE LENGTH. Short sentences (2 - 10 words) move the story along quickly. But too many in a row make your message sound choppy. Long sentences carry your message along at a more leisurely pace, but can be confusing and cumbersome. By the way, it's okay to write one-word, two-word or incomplete sentences - "Yes, you do!" or "More?" or "Honestly!"
5. USE THE ACTIVE TENSE. Results and actions don't happen by themselves. People act, and results occur. "Protect your family and valuables from burglars with an ON-GUARD alarm" is much more powerful than "Loss of valuables, and injury or loss of life, are averted with an ON-GUARD burglar alarm."
6. MOVE ON WITH THOUGHT CONNECTORS. Keep your readers engaged by guiding them seamlessly from one idea to the next. Use natural transitions, like these:
What's more ...
In addition ...
Better yet ...
Equally important ...
You can also ...
7. STICK TO THE "RULE OF THREE. "A series of 3 adjectives, adverbs or ideas has more rhythm and balance than two or four. For example:
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
Broadcast fax is a fast, easy, and convenient way to deliver messages to customers, suppliers and the press.
The updated program gives you a flexible merchandising kit, popular products and valuable guidance in setting up your product display center.
8. SPELL OUT SPECIFIC ACTION. Don't leave one action to chance - tell prospects and customers exactly what you want them to do ---- each and every step.
Fill out the [form], put it in the postage-paid envelope and drop it into the nearest mailbox.
Call toll-free 800-123-4567 today!
Complete the order form, especially the mandatory items in red, then just click SEND at the bottom of the page.
9. RETURN TO THE OPENING THEME. Conclude your ad, sales letter and brochure by bringing your message back to the theme or idea that you used to open it. This gives readers a sense of completion, and wraps the various elements of your sales message into a nice, neat, complete package.
*** Visit the Writing By Design Web Site -- http://www.big-idea.com -- for back issues. There you will also find the Big Ideas, Ink SMARTBOOKS store where you can gather intelligence and ideas to super-charge your advertising, marketing, copywriting and design.
(C) Copyright 1998 by Writing By Design. All rights reserved.
BIG IDEAS BULLETIN is a monthly publication of Writing By Design.
Author: Binnie Perper
Copywriter & Creative Director, Writing By Design, Ferndale, WA.
Binnie works by phone, fax and e-mail with clients throughout the country, as well as through graphics designers and marketing consultants. And yes, she is available to come write to the rescue for you or your clients. For more information (including rates), visit the Writing By Design Web Site.
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