Topic overview

Writing an advertisement

Writing an advertisement

The key to writing a successful ad is knowing your audience and understanding what will motivate them to buy. You should already know what makes your target market tick before you even consider writing an advertisement.

You also need to be clear on what you can offer them, and what you are trying to achieve.

Many small businesses choose to write their own advertisements. However, if you are struggling to come up with the right words, or if your efforts aren't yielding the right results, you could hire a freelance copywriter or an advertising agency.

Grabbing attention - your advert headline

Clarity is key. Focus on a single, clear message and use the headline, an illustration or both to grab the reader's attention.

The simple approach is usually best. A successful headline might highlight the key benefits of your product, or arouse the interest of your target audience with a question, making them want to read on to find out the answer.

Look through existing similar ads in publications or on websites, to give you a good idea of what your competitors are doing, what works and what doesn't.

Any online advertising copy must include the key words and phrases that people are most likely to use when searching for a business like yours.

How to write great advertising copy

Once you've got the reader's attention, the body copy adds more information. Again, the key is to concentrate on what your target reader is interested in and which problems you can solve for them.

Be clear on your USP (unique selling proposition) - what does your business offer that no-one else does? Why should a reader choose you over your competition?

Big brands sometimes produce ads with no body copy at all: the illustration along with their brand name is enough to convey the right image. At the other end of the scale, ads in specialist magazines may include extensive details.

Straightforward, punchy writing works best. Keep sentences short.

If in doubt, leave it out. Don't be afraid of having plenty of white space in your advertisement - too much clutter can be off-putting.

Writing a call to action (CTA)

You need to give your reader all the information they need to take the next step, and encourage them to take it. It's essential to make it easy for them to do what you want them to do.

Make sure you include:

  • simple, clear instructions on what to do next;
  • your contact details.

You could consider encouraging quick action by including a deadline.

Checking your advert before publication

Once you've drafted your advert, leave it overnight before you read it through again. If you can, get the ad properly laid out or build it in a test environment (without publishing) before you check it.

Then put yourself in the shoes of one of your target customers, and have a look:

  • Does it grab your attention?
  • Would it stand out from other ads?
  • Does it make a strong promise that you can keep?
  • Would it encourage YOU to respond?

Finally, test the ad on customers and suppliers before you publish it.

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