8 Part Strategy For Constructing Your Advertising Message

Strategies to help produce your brochure, advertisment or direct mail. And make it achieve more sales.

1. Attract & keep the customer's eye

Your customer must be kept glued to your words. They may leave at any point of your copy so keep it attractive and relevant to their needs, right through to their decision to purchase.

Words, pictures and the customer:

Don't go overboard with pictures, its words that sell. You'll need your product photo of course but its the caption or headline that will make the difference. And the headline will be a benefit.

People buy products for what it will do for them, not what it looks like. Quite often, you'll see products like printers with features listed below an image. Here the advertiser has assumed that everyone knows the benefits of their printer and just need to know the specific features.

However a lot of people don't respond to pictures and lists of features, but they may respond to a photo of the product in use. For example you could show a child sat using a computer.

But that's not enough. Add a headline such as...'Now YOUR child can obtain higher grades' and that should get parents interested. You get the idea. The body text would describe how the computer helps children to learn.

Be very wary about using an agency to produce your copy writing. They may not know the principles involved in successful selling. The only way you can be sure is to have control over the production..usually unlikely when dealing with agencies... or produce the content yourself.

2. Content strategies

a) Descriptions: A lot of promtional documents leave the customer to guess at the benefits of the product or service advertised. They just describe it and their company. This is not good. Don't do it this way.

b) Comparisons: Here you could compare your product/service with your competitor's and specify how much better your's is. You could get in trouble if you name the other company and/or can't back up your claims with evidence. Works best by you having a major provable advantage over your competitors..and not naming them.

c) Storyline: A favorite with lots of folk. Tell a story involving the person the customer will relate to in a situation that shows the benefits your product/service gives that person.

Use a 'before using the product' and 'after using the product' strategy. At the end the person will summarise how much better their situation is nw after using your product. And you tell your readers how it will help them as well.

The hard bit is writing a true story. It's less effective than a made up one.

d) The most effective strategy is to use the well-known AIDCA formula..see section 8 further down.

3. Inspiration

My answer is to go for a walk in the countryside. There are two halves to our brains; the left being for logical functions and the right half for creative thinking. Apparently few logical people are able to take advanatage of the creative side at will. You have to relax and trick the brain into releasing your ideas.

Walking and daydreaming are a couple of techniques to employ.

4. Ideas for copy

You need to saturate your brain with all the elements about your product or service. Study what your product is made of, how strong it is and how it is put together. Consider the manufacturing process and the care taken throughout the production.

Write down all these details with the angle of 'how much better than our competitors is our product' and 'in what ways?' Write down your conclusions.

Do the same for your service. Take your service apart and study it as individual steps. Do your customers know about these steps? What benefits do these steps have for your customers? Maybe your competitors don't mention theirs and you could take advantage of this.

Your customer needs to be in the fore-front of your mind. Particularly your main customer group, the ones who share a common need. Don't forget, you'll want to aim separate message if you have more than one target customer group.

5. Producing your copy

Don't overdo it when you first start to put your ideas down on paper. Go over your notes and details about your product or service a few times and have a break from that particular subject for a day or too if necessary. I'm not saying take it to easy but don't try to force yourself, it won't work.

During this initial period you may well be getting flashes of inspiration and ideas ay odd moments. Write them down. I would advise always carrying a notebook or maybe a voice recorder to ensure all your creativity is not lost.

When you have decided to formally put everything down, find yourself a quiet room and ideally use a large A2 pad (which can be found in art stores) to record your information. Remember, you are writing down what it is you want to say to your customers to make them buy.

Write down the most important 'buying factor' on the pad. Then continue to put down all the others related to customer needs and buying factors. Forget any logical order, put them down as they come to you, adding detail as necessary. Keep relaxed and don't censor any ideas you have (unless they are too far removed from your area). You could intoruce others into this exercise and in effect hold a group brainstorming session.

You should end up with several pages of ideas.

6. Compiling messages needed to sell

You will see many ideas that you are familiar with but there may be some that you are not. Do some research on these. Your competitors may not have bothered and there could be some gold here.

Next you need to group together related ideas with colored pens. You'll find some remaining that don't fit in a group, but keep these. They may come to life later.

Now you need to structure your results so that you can develop your 'story' to relay to your customer. Put the group headings around a circle and then like the legs of a spider put the related ideas along them in order of sequence, importance or whatever criteria you have decided.

As you do all this your creative side will flag up more ideas to add to the pool. Now you can get some feedback from colleagues or even customers on what you have produced. This will optimise your results even further.

7. Producing your copy framework

You have two choice here. Hand your work over to a copywriter or carry on yourself. If you are carrying on yourself you need to decide on the most appropriate approach as defined in section 2 above; descriptions, comparative, situation or benefits.

Your message will be built around the AIDCA structure.

Attention: You must get the readers attention within seconds using your headline.

Interest: Get your prospect interested in your product.

Desire: This is where you detail how their needs can be fulfilled.

Conviction: Provide proof that this is the product that they need.

Action: Here you tell them what they must do to get it.

8. Using the AIDCA formula

Attention seeking headlines: Often the headline is left till last as it is the most difficult part of the message. And you may find it in the main copy itself. Short headlines rarely work. Remember, if you are using a picture its the wqords that will matter. The picture is a supporting element.

'Benefit' type headlines are best (even better if they are tiny storylines) with 'News' type second best. Generally you should include your product and the main benefit. Length is less important. Brochures, mailshots and magazine adverts tend to have longer headlines than straightforward advertisements.

Interest to be aroused: This is where you tell your main story using one of the strategies described earlier; description, comparative, situation or benefits.

Concentrate on how your product or service fulfils primary and secondary needs. Relate how it satisfies the customers buying factors and success factors that you have defined in your marketing assessment.

Desire to be created: You need to be enthusiastic here in describing what the product or service can do for the customer. Convince them that they will really benefit from your product. Expand on the detail. For example if your car is economical to run then write about how much money they will save and then buy a holiday with it.

Conviction needed: Here you need to prove to the reader that your claims about your product are true. Assume that they will disbelieve your cliams. If you have statistics use them. Show graphs. Show testimonials or endorsements from satisfied customers. Don't make them up. How could you prove they were real?

Action: It is imperative that you tell your readers what action you want them to take. And include a benefit along with it. For example; "Send for our full color catalogue. Its FREE, there is no obligation to buy."

There you have it! An 8 part strategy to help compile your advertising message and get you more sales.

(c) Paul Curran, CEO of Cuzcom Internet Publishing Group and webmaster at Wealth-Building-Secrets.com, providing strategies and advice for financial success, sales success, and personal development success.

This article may be reproduced in its entirety provided the resource paragraph above is included and all urls kept active. A courtesy copy of your publication or web page URL would be appreciated. 1537 words

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