model of a pig used to advertise used clothing

How to write fit for purpose ads part 2

Following on from last week’s post on writing ads fit for purpose, we’ve got our first premise: “all ads fail unless we know who we’re writing them for”, so what now?

Well, first you need to understand what a premise is and why it matters. If you haven’t read the 6 part introduction to copywriting on the ICA site, that will help a lot: https://internationalcopywritersassociation.com/ica-getting-started-part-1/

Let’s get one thing clear though, the purpose of an ad is to sell. What it sells can be anything (it doesn’t have to be for money, and it doesn’t have to be about a product).

An ad can sell an idea, an emotion, some future happening (or all of those and more), but one thing ALL ads have in common is a call to action (CTA). If there’s no CTA, it’s not an ad (not in the strictest sense anyway).

You might argue that op-ed pieces are a form of advertising, and whilst that can be true (i.e. the intent is to change people’s minds without asking for a commitment of any sort), that’s not what we’re discussing here.

We want people to take action so we can measure that action and start to improve the conversion rate (or we’ll really struggle to keep clients).

How do we get people to take action? Make them an offer they can’t refuse (easy to say, hard to do).

Before we go there, here’s an exercise. Read every ad you see over the next few days and figure out the following (I suggest you keep a diary or journal of this activity – writing it down will help change the neurons in your brain so you start thinking like a pro):

1. Who is the ad aimed at?

2. What problem does it solve?

3. What’s the big idea? (does it even have one?)

4. What does the audience need to believe to take the CTA?

5. Is it an offer they can’t refuse?

See you next week for part 3 where we’ll go deeper.


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