Thursday, 14 June 2007

Effective Copy Step-by-step

Effective Copy Step-by-step
by: Linda Miller

Anyone can launch a new product. Making it take off requires marketing. But keeping a product above the crowd requires advertising with all the right elements, including effective copy.

Advertising copy can be as simple as a slogan or as extensive as an editorial. The key isn't in how much you say, but what you say. The success of your product rests on effective copy that conveys a clear message about the product. With an obscure message, or no message at all, the product will have a very little chance of taking off.

Creating effective advertising starts with knowing the key elements to a successful ad:

The Headline

To be effective, headlines must be clear and bold. A short burst of carefully chosen words has the best chance of being noticed, and will convey a strong and memorable message. These words can be intriguing, dramatic, elegant, dignified, silly or grand. Choosing effective copy depends entirely on your target market or audience. Know your market, and you will understand what words will catch the eye and motive the customers to read on. Your headline needs to convey a very clear message.

* Free Offers: Try grabbing your audience's attention with the "shocking claim" technique. "Half Price" and "Free Offer" are often used to get attention. Just make sure that you're able to follow through on the claim. Don't use the old "Store Closing" technique if you have no intention of shutting down. This just causes distrust.

* KISS: Keep it Simple, Stupid. Or, if you just can't decide what to edit out of your headline copy, you can always add a sub-heading. Be sure that the secondary text improves on the headline.

* Logo: Every successful business has a logo. Develop a logo and use it every time you advertise. Nike could put its trademark "swoosh" on a blank page of paper, with no other copy or graphics, and everyone will still know it's a Nike ad. Logos are effective eye-catchers and give a company an identity. Once your logo is established, people will recognize an ad for your business before they even read the copy.

* Satisfy a Need: Give customers a reason to buy your product of service. Determine what niche your business can fill, and focus your advertising copy on that area. Why should people buy your product rather than going to the competitor? You need to convince your audience that they need your product. If created with discretion, your ad can even make them feel foolish for not buying your product.

* Key words: Highlight important words in your text with bold type, underlining and different fonts, or with the use of colour. While your headline is most important, you can create effective copy by making key words stand out.

* Toot Your Horn: Don't be afraid to highlight the features, virtues and attributes of your product or service. Bear in mind the areas that are most important to your clients. But remember to keep it honest. If your restaurant serves award-winning pie but lousy coffee, advertise your pie. Don't mention the coffee.

* What's In It For You: Remind your customer of unique benefits you can provide. Tell them about free bonuses, money back guarantees, time-limited offers or special discounts for certain customers. Use incentives to stretch the pulling power of your ad.

* Keep it Short: Use short sentences. Try sentence fragments. These get attention. Fewer words work with skim readers.

* Awesome Adjectives: Use attention grabbing adjectives to your advantage, but stay away from over-used phrases and cliches. Terms like unbelievable, super, ultra, eye-popping and incredible just aren't that incredible anymore. Stay away from cliches as well. Intelligent readers feel annoyed and patronized when faced with statements like "You don't' want to miss this sale."


Effective advertising is achieved with the right balance of clever copy and eye-catching graphics.

* Photography: If a picture tells a thousand words, make sure the photograph or illustration you choose puts your product in its best possible light. Provide a high-resolution photo or a professionally created illustration. Make sure your audience gets a clear image of your product, or is intrigued enough to find out more information.

* Proof: If your ad is making a claim about quality, back it up. Use colorful charts, graphs and other details to support your claim, and satisfy any lingering doubts in your readers' minds.

Other Elements of Effective Copy

* Contact Information: Invite customers to act. Let them know where they can find your product. Provide a website, telephone number, address or retail outlet. Don't assume that people will know where to find you.

* Disclaimer: This is usually located at the bottom center or the bottom right hand of the page. Disclaimers cover the legal aspects of your advertising claims, such as "some conditions apply" or "limited time offer". You'll likely want to use a smaller font size for the disclaimer, but don't make it so tiny that it looks like you have something to hide.

* White Space: Sometimes a message that reads loud and clear can say almost nothing at all. White space can be extremely eye-catching, because other advertisers cram as much copy as possible into an ad. Advertisers in traditional media have used white space as a marketing tactic for many years, and now the trend is also shifting to Internet advertisers. Allowing ample white space makes your ad easier to read and infinitely more effective.

The first step to making a sale is selling your product. Effective copy and smart advertising techniques are essential in getting attention and establishing an audience. Include the key elements in your advertising, and increase your chances of success.

About The Author

Linda Miller contributes to several web sites, such as and

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