The Simple Conversation
Advertising copy can contain the most powerful and persuasive messages designed to influence your target audience to willingly enter your sales funnel, or it can be an utter waste of time. Most of it that you experience is a waste of time. A waste of money. A waste of effort.
This short article is designed to give you a few tips for writing great advertising copy. It’s impossible to claim that it will tell you everything you need to know about how to write effective ad copy, but it will get you started in asking some of the more of the important questions about the content of your copywriting.
How do you write copy that the listener will remember? Copy that the will get the listener to take action? Copy that is written in a way that is more compelling?
Tip #1: Enter The Conversation Already Happening In Their Head
Your target audience is already having a conversation in their head about whatever you do. This is true if you provide a sell a product, service or you’re pitching an idea.
If you are an exterminator, your primary target audience is people who have a pest infestation. What is an effective way to enter the conversation that is already happening in their head? Does this opening line get their attention:
That scratching sound in your attic? That’s a squirrel up there. Picture him clawing around on the other side of your ceiling. Every little scratch is scraping away at the mere quarter of an inch of drywall that separates your bedroom from his little claws. Is tonight the night he breaks through? Is tonight the night he and his little squirrel family fall into your bed?
If you’ve been putting off calling the exterminator, the mental imagery created by these words will definitely get your attention. The fear that paragraph addresses should already present in your head, our headline just brought it out into the open. The target audience needs your help! How do they find you?
If the weather has turned cold in your part of the world, this example is a common occurrence. People will be lining up to call your business and throw money at you to come to their home to prevent the squirrel family from crashing down on their heads in the middle of the night.
There’s only one way to have made this conversation even better. We’ll cover that in Tip #3
Tip #2: Speak In The Language Of The Target Audience
At its most basic this tip instructs you to write in Spanish if your target audience speaks Spanish, French if they speak French., English if they speak English. But, more than that, it is a powerful reminder to speak in the manner that your target audience does, and not to use terminology that they will have to process. In our example, the target audience is hearing scratching sounds above their heads, they know something is up there, and they need someone to make it go away. That is the way they’re going to describe it.
You might be a great writer. You might be an expert on your product. You can extol its benefits all day long. But, if you don’t do it in the language of the target audience, they’ll only hear technical terms that make you sound like every other service provider.
Tip #3: Tell A Story
Stories tell. Stories sell. The example paragraph was pretty effective at creating mental imagery. It’s possible it could have been better by turning it into a testimonial-style story using people, not announcers, to tell it.
If your target audience is already hearing the scratching sounds above their heads every night, and they’re already concerned about it. Hearing one of their peers speak the exact fears they’re feeling, then go on to explain how your business solved the problem for them is an effective example of selling by using stories.
The scientific term is Episodic Memory and it represents the experiences and events we’ve experienced either in real life or be hearing a believable story. There is an emotional charge that is tied to the entire context of the situation. Episodic Memory engages feelings of happiness, fear, sadness, joy, disgust, surprise, trust anticipation, shame, envy, love, etc and creates an incredibly strong memory bond. By telling a story that stores itself in the Episodic Memory of your target audience and effectively associating yourself as the solution to (in the case of negative feelings) or the provider of (in the case of positive feelings) the feelings, you have bonded your business to the target audience in a much stronger way than Semantic Memory is able.
Semantic Memory is a structured record of facts, meaning, concepts, knowledge, etc. A lot of advertising ineffectively attempts to give the target audience facts and figures to commit to memory. The problem with that method is that much of Semantic Memory is abstract. In other words, your target audience may hear and know that you’ve been in business for over 100 years, but accessing that memory when it’s important is less likely. (And, why does the customer care that you’ve been in business for 100 years anyway?)
The target audience will not only remember your name, but they will also think of you every time they experience the memory, reinforcing your place as the authority on the subject.
If your advertising copy enters the conversation your target audience is already having, by telling a story, in their language, it will be better and more effective than most of the ads in production today.