How to write an ad

Here’s a brief checklist:

1. Clarify your objective, for example, to simply build awareness or to prompt enquiries.

2. Think about your target audience – what do they want and what will interest them?

3. Look at competing advertisements – what works well and how can you make your advertisement stand out from them?

4. Remind yourself of the one or two key benefits you can offer which set you apart from the competition.

5. Decide whether to write the advertisement yourself, or to use a copywriter or advertising agency.

6. Decide what the main message of your advertisement must be.

7. Devise a short, attention-grabbing headline, present an offer highlighting the key benefit, arousing curiosity, or containing news. This determines 80% of your response.

8. Consider whether a relevant illustration could help to attract attention or use a compelling photograph to compliment your text.

9. Build on the headline with the main body copy, for example, expanding on the key benefit(s), or supporting your claims with facts. Testimonials do this more effectively than sales hype.

10. Avoid cluttering the main message with unconnected information and benefits; if in doubt, leave it out.

11. Use simple, clear and concise language, with paragraphs broken into easily readable points; avoid cliches, empty claims and weak jokes. Less is usually more.

12. Prompt a response; include contact details and consider providing a deadline by which readers must act. Push em!

13. Reinforce your main message throughout the copy and consider ending with a pay-off line which relates back to the headline.

14. Check that your advertisement grabs attention, maintains interest, stimulates desire and prompts action!

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