Advertising Copy: What?s Really Important?

You labor long and hard trying to create the perfect advertising piece but only about 20% of your copy is going to get read. The rest will simply be scanned. After all your work, your potential customers won't even read every one of those well chosen words. Is your genius lost on them?

While it might sound frightening or frustrating, it's a fact of advertising life. So what do you do next? There are some sections of your copy that potential customers are practically guaranteed to read. If you know what these are, you'll see your sales increase dramatically. There are six key sections of your marketing copy to focus upon for success.

HEADLINES

Headlines have always been and will always be the most important section in any copy.

They are the first thing potential customers will see. They have the greatest impact on whether any of the other copy gets read. Your headlines must be enticing. Think of them as your opening line. If people aren't intrigued, they won't read any further.

Use strong active verbs (like slash, chop, quit, etc.) in your headlines. These words clearly demonstrate actions as opposed to more passive words (like reduce, think, consider, etc.). Most of the time, buying is an emotional action. The more you stir the emotions, the more you cause movement toward your ideal customer response.

Pay a lot of attention to your headline. It's the powerhouse of your copy.

SUB-HEADLINES

If your headline has captured your potential customers attention, they will scan the sub-headlines. Think of sub-headlines as chapter titles. These sub-headlines, when read with the headline, should tell your reader the whole story. Always begin writing your advertising copy by outlining using this headline and sub-headline format.

Headlines and sub-headlines are designed to make the sale. Barring that desired outcome, they can guide your visitors to read deeper into your copy. If you set up a structure of progressive sub-headlines, you'll have a better shot getting your point across.

Where do your prospective customers read after the headline and sub-headlines? Typically, they will read any captions you have under pictures in your ad copy.

CAPTIONS UNDER PICTURES

Newspaper journalists were the first to use captions. A caption is a few words below a photograph to explain what the picture is.

People are in the habit of looking for the captions in order to relate the importance of the image with the information they are receiving. Captions in advertising pieces are highly read. Don't waste the space! Don't just use the caption to explain the picture. Use the caption to sell the product! Use descriptive benefit-oriented words in your captions for maximum impact.

So, they've looked at your headline, sub-headlines, and at the captions under your pictures. They might have already made the purchase decision. Congratulations! For those readers that haven't made the purchase decision yet, let's flesh out the advertisement with some choice sentences.

FIRST SENTENCES

When you scan a newspaper, what do you read? Almost everyone reads the first sentence or two of each paragraph. These sentences are vitally important. To get your potential customers interested enough to keep reading, add the punch here! Unlike a novel, advertising does not build to the climax. Great ads start with the climax and support its claims in subsequent sentences.

If you create exceptional first sentences, your potential customer will be more likely to continue reading the copy. And, as an added benefit, the first sentences in each paragraph may be enough to convince him/her to buy your product.

Now that you've captured their attention and they are reading further, use bulleted lists for benefits.

BULLETED LISTS

First, use bulleted lists when describing features or benefits. A bulleted list will leave more white space around itself and therefore look less intimidating to your reader.

Secondly, as with the first sentence in each paragraph, people also almost always read the first entry in a bulleted list. If it's on target, they might keep reading. Make sure your first bullet point is extremely powerful and enticing. To keep the potential customer reading, make certain you are writing the copy with their concerns in mind.

The last, but not least, power spot in your copy you probably won't even use. It's the call to action.

CALL THEM TO ACTION

The very bottom of your ad copy is the last chance to close the sale! Take advantage of this valuable area. This is where your call to action should reside. What is the call to action? Telling your potential customer what to do next is critical to getting the sale.

A call to action could be "Visit our website today!", "Call Today for your FREE estimate", or "Call to Secure Your Seat Today!". Tell your prospective customer what they need to do to move the acquisition of this beneficial product or service you sell into their home or office.

Time spent on your advertising copy will never be wasted. If you haven't done it before, now is the time to review your copy to be sure you're making the most out of these opportunities. Your ad copy is a one-way conversation. You must anticipate their questions and objections. These must be answered in your copy before you get the sale.

Michele Schermerhorn calls herself a "Corporate Freedom Fighter" dedicated to freeing cubicle prisoners to experience their own successful online business. She has over 30 years experience in the business world and over 12 years running her own successful online businesses. She is President of Online Business Institute Inc. (http://www.obinstitute.com), authors a sassy marketing blog (http://www.imarketblog.com), and regularly conducts free online seminars. Online Business Institute Inc. exists to "Create Successful Online Business Owners One Person At A Time".

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