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Ad Copy that Sells

If every business depends on selling something, why do so few use writing techniques that have been proven to do the job?

This is the result of production-based thinking instead of marketing-based thinking (me thinking vs. you thinking). Focusing on the product and it’s features instead of customer problems and solutions (benefits) usually results in writing that fails to sell. The problem is widespread, especially in business-to-business advertising.

Creators of a product or service are understandably focused on what they’ve created and on how well it works. Customers, on the other hand, are focused on what it will or will not do for them. So writers need to write for their readers (i.e. potential customers) and not for their clients. Pleasing clients but losing customers is not a winning formula.

Writing to sell is not hard once you understand how and why people buy things. One method that works is to talk about problems and solutions.

Identify a problem readers in your audience care about that can be solved or improved by your product. Maybe it’s a life-threatening problem like high blood pressure.  Or it might be an annoyance that makes the reader uncomfortable, like a mattress that causes back aches.

If they’re not very aware of the problem yet, you can point it out. A pharmaceutical company might name a new medical condition, like “restless leg syndrome”. Then show how your product solves or improves the problem.

Describe the problem in a way that shows you understand it. Identify with the victims. “I feel your pain.” Then show how your product solves that problem or at least makes it a lot better. Support that claim. Back it up with testimonials from experts or users. Cite lab tests or experimental results that show the effectiveness of your remedy. Explain how it works in a logical and persuasive way that makes it clear how it solves this kind of problem.

If there are competing solutions to the reader’s problem, show how yours is better. Do it in terms of benefits and not features.  Benefits are about the user and what’s in it for her. Features are about the product.  Use the “you” point of view instead of “me” point of view. It’s usually easy to translate a feature into a benefit.  Instead of “heavy-duty construction”, say “it will last so long you won’t need to buy another” .  Instead of “works fast”, say “no waiting for relief.”

A Winning Formula For Ad Writing Success

There’s an old formula among experienced ad writers that has proven itself consistently over the years.  It’s called AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.  First you get their attention, then you stimulate interest in the product, followed by creating desire to try it, and close with a call to action.

In the problem-and-solution process described above, stating the problem builds the interest and showing the solution creates the desire. The initial grabbing of attention comes from compelling headlines and visuals. The call to action at the end gives readers a specific way to respond, e.g. call a toll-free number for a free trial.

Thinking of the reader and her problems, providing a solution to those problems, and proving what you say is at the core of writing to sell.