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You Can Write Great Advertising Copy

Furniture World Magazine


Tips and tactics for writing effective advertising copy.

Back in the 60s, Marion Harper, the brilliant and very practical Chairman of the 145 member Interpublic Group of Companies, the world's largest and most successful gathering of advertising and public relations people said, "Advertising is not a glorious, mystic art. It is a tool of selling."

While renowned for their creativity, Interpublic's visual and copy teams were forced into pragmatism by their scientific research arm, SCI, the data collectors and analysts who provided accurate input on target audiences. This intelligence was the foundation of the headlines and body copy of print ads, and the scripting of television and radio commercials, all "tools of selling".

If you have evolved through direct mail, telemarketing, focus groups and face-to-face interviews, gaining knowledge of your customers' demographics and product needs, you have established your target market. Now you need to determine the caliber and potential velocity of your communications!

An ad can be beautiful, inspirational, poetic, "glorious, mystic art", but unless you apply Harper's Rules, customers might frame your ad and hang it over the fireplace, but they won't buy your products.

  • The headline, 90 percent of the time, is your ad's most important element.
  • It provides 50 to 75 percent of the impact of your ad.
  • It competes with an average of 370 news/feature and 90 ad headlines in your daily newspaper. It must capture the right kind of attention, fast.
  • The very best headlines appeal to your customers' self-interest, offering your customer something he wants and/or needs.
  • Next best, the ad supplies "news", product introductions, new galleries, etc.
  • Third best arouse curiosity -- "Something good is waiting for you at Henderson's!"
  • Generalities are far less believable than specifics.
  • Don't be afraid of long headlines. If they say something they'll be more effective than short, gimmicky headlines that say nothing.
  • And the same is true of body copy. If well written, long copy sells more than short copy, particularly if your sales message is expressed with enthusiasm. Write it as if you were writing a letter to a friend. "I just bought this entertainment center and it's great!'
  • Write fast, as if you had to catch a plane. Later, cut, rearrange, add logic where necessary, but don't hack the life out of it. Get excited. Tell yourself you're communicating the most important piece of news since the dawn of mankind. You'll write action copy that evokes positive emotional response in your reader. Then, if you can, leave it for a day to ferment. If the result sells you, it will sell your customer.
  • Write in the present tense (action!), and second person (customer self-interest). "Your family will love home theater fun!"
  • Use sub-heads, "And you'll love our lifetime quality and prices!"
  • Use brief selling caption messages under illustrations.
  • Remember KISS? The old principle applies to copywriting. Always keep it simple. Simple words, simple straightforward style. Make the customer think about the product, not your words.
  • Talk about benefits. How will your customers benefit from home theater? Family togetherness, pride of ownership, aesthetic pleasure, practical electronic and supply storage, great surround sound.
  • Arouse curiosity. Get them so intrigued with the total experience of home theater that they'll come to your store to see, hear, touch.
  • Define, benefits, discuss woods, finishes, size, warranties, service, delivery, price.
  • Don't help the store down the street. Your home theater selection is better. Tell them why.
  • Convince your customer to act. Tell her/him to come now to your store. Special discounts, unique finishes, distinctive covers, immediate delivery, prices going up soon, whatever will create the desire for immediate action in your marketplace.
  • Show the product you're selling in use. Not just a picture of that gorgeous three-piece living room suite, but a photograph showing people, especially children, dogs, cats, enjoying it! Or, if not people or pets, at least add a scarf, a toy, a magazine or a glass of wine on a coffee table.

Note: A survey recently completed affirms that an ad showing a recliner occupied by a man reading a newspaper outsold an ad featuring the recliner alone by 19-1/2 times!

And consider type face. Don't use fancy-dancy script or reverse lettering on too pale a background that nobody can read.

With research, enthusiasm, excitement, persistence and a modicum of sweat, you can produce ads that sell!

For more information on HFC programs or questions about this article contact editor@furninfo.com.


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