I have lost count of the number of times that I or someone else has said that ‘Content is King’. But content doesn’t just become king because people say it is. It needs to work for it. For content to rule, you need it to be strong, powerful, and potent. Doubly true for advertisements where you have very few words to play around with, it seems to be easier said than done, sure; but here’s how this works:
The headline is the MOST important part of any ad or content piece. This is the point where readers decide whether they want to read more or not. When you’ve written a headline, about half of your work is done. If you haven’t sold your headline you’ve already failed half of your audience. As brutal as it sounds, that’s just the way it is. Next, let’s move on to some ‘rules’ (for want of a better word) that can help you:
- This is it; this is how you flag down people to read your piece. State your purpose clearly. If your ad is about something that cures bladder weakness, make sure your headline includes the words. If you want expecting mothers to read the ad, make sure you mention it. Also, if you’re advertising something that is unisex, make sure your headline isn’t aimed at just one gender.
- Your headline needs to appeal to self-interest. Promise your reader a benefit. No one is interested in anything else.
- Inject news about your product. Is it new or improved or upgraded, whatever it is tell the people about it.
- Don’t turn your nose at cliché words. “Hurry”, “Last Chance”, etc. are words that are still around in advertising because they work.
- End your headline with a lure, so people want to read on. Don’t turn it into a click bait type of headline, but arouse people’s curiosity.
- Some people like to write tricky headlines – puns, obscurities, wordplay, etc. Don’t do that. While in a creative sense it may be amazing, it’s not so great for your target audience. You are competing against so many ads in the same place that no one is going to stop to unravel the meaning of your allusion. Don’t play games with your reader, say what you have to say, and say it plainly.
- It is slightly dangerous to use negatives as well. For example, you want to write “Our paint has no lead content”, but a reader who is breezing through all the ads might miss out the tiny ‘no’ and take away the fact that your paint has lead in it.
- Don’t use half blind headlines either. These are the kind of headlines that will make no sense unless you read the copy below. A lot of people are going to skip the copy, so make sure your headline is self-sufficient.
If someone in person asks you a question “Which toothpaste should I buy?” How will you answer? Treat your body copy like a conversation.
- Get to the point and don’t beat around the bush.
- Avoid generalizations and be specific. Be friendly, enthusiastic, factual, and memorable. You need to tell the truth, but the truth has to be fascinating. Don’t bore your readers.
- How long your copy is will depend on what you’re selling. If you’re selling a chocolate, be short, if you’re selling a car, lay on the features. Don’t shy away from long copies.
- Include testimonials. People will trust fellow consumers more than they will trust you.
- Give advice. If you only talk about your product, it’s boring. Give advice related to that vertical.
- Don’t write for awards. It would be awesome to win an award for your copy, but that kind of copy won’t work with a majority of your TG.
In the end it’s all about how willing you are to try new and old things alike.