Developing an effective ad copy isn’t a cookie cutter approach. But it’s not rocket science either. The secret to writing effective advertising copy is to find the major benefits of your product or service. And to fit the right benefit into the right element in the final structure of your ad, brochure, or other marketing deliverables.
This post focuses on the process of discovering these key benefits in your company’s product or service with better ad copy. And turning these benefits into clear, effective, salesman-like advertising–in print, online, or in any other media form.
Even though you may never write a word of your company’s advertising copy. You’ll need to have a solid working knowledge of the process. So you can recognize effective advertising copy that sells your company’s products. Moreover, learning to write effective ad copy for your marketing assignment gives you the ability to recognize ineffective ad copy.
Developing the skill of ad copywriting helps you to know what you want when directing your digital marketing agency. Like in driving the process forward, ensuring the fastest, most effective execution of all marketing projects.
You may not write copy for your ads or brochures, but these techniques will help you write down the essential sales copy benefits for any marketing deliverable. So you can supply these background notes to your ad agency or marketing consultant. Great marketing managers, you should have once been a good salesman. As a marketing manager, you should know how to write good ad copy.
Learning How to Tell Your Product Story—To Sell Your Product
Although I use the term advertising throughout this post, the process of identifying your products key sales benefits, and the copywriting techniques covered here, apply to any form of marketing deliverable— brochure, catalog sheet, sales kit, website, trade show marketing, etc. These techniques are highly effective in any marketing project, and in any form of media.
These techniques allow you to systematically discover and develop your products major selling benefits. While developing marketing deliverables that present these benefits in the most effective way. The major benefit of using these techniques is that they eliminate the “Y Factor” in your marketing program. Which is the doubt that an ad campaign or other marketing projects convey a clear, effective selling message to your market?
Whenever you, or your management, evaluate your company’s advertising and marketing prior to its placement, you should always ask:
“Does this ad accurately and effectively communicate and present the major benefits of our product in a way that would motivate the prospect to buy our product?”
By using the techniques described in this post, you guarantee that your answer to the question is always YES.
Effective Ad Copywriting Means Research and Execution
There are three parts to the process of developing effective advertising:
Part 1: the information-gathering stage, where you pull together every piece of information about your company’s product or service, and its benefits to your prospective buyer
Part 2: the writing stage, where you document the key sales benefits of your company’s product or service, garnered from your research. These benefits are then ranked by their importance. With the most important benefits becoming headlines and secondary sales benefits being incorporated into subheads and body copy.
Part 3 and 4: the execution and layout stages, where you (or your agency) put this information together in a hard-hitting, effective advertising deliverable—a display ad campaign, a direct response package, multimedia presentations, or landing pages.
The key steps covered in this post are not limited to writing display advertising alone. The same research, thinking exercises, and copywriting principles can be applied to any marketing project. Even ones that require sales copy—an ad, brochure, a website, a landing page, or video.
Part 1: The Information-Gathering Stage for Ad Copy
Before you sit down to write any ad copy, you will begin by pulling together all the information on your company’s product and its benefits, from these sources:
- Your company’s best salespeople
- Your company’s product development managers
- Your competitors
- Open source ( public) information
Step 1: Listen to Your Company Sales Reps
Your company’s best advertising copy comes from your company’s best salespeople. Sales pros are company street fighting soldiers. They’ve learned from hard experience how to present your company’s products to real prospects and buyers on a daily basis. Speak with the best of them have learned how best to explain your company’s products to the outside world in order to make the sale.
Since making sales is a sole mission of your company’s advertising. Then it only makes sense to talk to your company sales people as your first step. Gathering the information you need to execute effective advertising deliverables.
Insiders in any company—including marketing managers—are often dangerously insulated from how your company actually sells its products.
Above all else, a company’s top salespeople know the most important thing about your company’s product or service. Which feature, benefits, and applications work best to help them close the sale. Often, these features and benefits will be different or expressed and position differently. Then the benefits you, your management, where your ad agency have been presenting to your company’s marketing program.
By listening to how your best sales reps actually sell your product, you can tap into this energy and bring it inside your company, to serve your efforts to market your company’s products more effectively.
Talk to your sales reps, and talk to them often. They know what’s really going on.
How to Debrief a Sales Rep
Your job here is to be an extremely attentive listener and intelligence gather. Call a meeting, or attend your company’s next sales meeting. Be careful and listen to your company sales reps talk about your company’s products. Start out by asking company sales reps to give you their best, standard sales presentation. Do it as if you were the prospect on the other side of the desk.
Listen closely for the key benefits and those little personal persuasion statements that highly effective sales pros used to bolster their case. At this stage, you are looking for the real world, antidotal, verbal selling points your salespeople used to convince the prospect. Also, play close attention to your benefits. See how the salesman personalizes the benefits of using your company’s product or services, to you, the prospect.
Your company sales reps will often drop these little gems into your lap, and each of these can be turned into effective of pieces of sales copy for any marketing deliverable.
An experienced marketer knows when she hears a new copy point. She can use this in her next ad or brochure. By listening carefully you can develop a highly tuned sense for detecting usable and effective sales points you can incorporate into your company’s next sales promotions. All you have to do is listen and write them down. After that pass them along to your digital marketing agency or marketing consultant who writes your company’s sales copy.
Learn Which Benefits Work Best
While you’re listening to their presentations, ask for sales reps about each key benefit they present, and which benefit is the most important. Then which one is the next important, etc. This helps your rank her sales points and good/better/best fashion.
- Good: sales benefits at belonging in your company’s ad copy, or elsewhere and promotional copy
- Better: sales benefits that be along in boldface add subheads, bullet points or another, more prominent positions
- Best: key sales points that can standalone as headlines in advertising, and major sales headlines for brochures, signage or other collateral.
How Do Your Salespeople Counter Common Sales Objections?
Next, ask your company sales reps about the major objections or questions of the prospective customer will commonly raise against the stated benefits. You want your sales reps to verbalize what their prospects say to them, and how their sales reps counter the objection.
You can often incorporate these major sales counters in your company’s advertising copy to preemptively anticipate and neutralize prospects objections. Answering objections in advance in your company’s promotional messages help soften the prospects potential objections and shortens the sales cycle.
Step 2: Check Your Competition
Watching what your company’s competitors are doing in the marketplace. How your competitors’ position, present and promote their products. Where they advertise, and how they support their sales force. This can have an influence on your company’s advertising, marketing, and promotional efforts.
Just as important, competitors will often show you what not to do when it comes to marketing your own company’s products. Since many ad campaigns, including most likely, those of your competition, may not be very effective in their intended target markets. You may have an opportunity to top whatever your competitor has done, providing you know what they’re doing.
Step 3: Get Your Competitor Sales Information Kit
Get someone to call your competitor to request all sales information kits. You want to see what your competitors send to interested prospects, but without them knowing that you requested their sales information.
When this information arrives in your hands, review it carefully. Put yourself in the prospect shoes. Take careful note of what you’ve observed as good, persuasive sales copy points in your competitor sales letters, brochure, response pieces, and other collateral material.
Notice the layout of your competitors printed material. If the headlines, subheads, and body copy include copy points, they are instantly readable and persuasive to you. That means your competitor is doing a good job and in its ad copy presentation. Of course, this means you have to be at least as good as they are when you develop your own company’s marketing deliverables.
From a copy standpoint, take special notice of any sales promotion and call-to-actions your competitor uses to close the sale. If your competitor has been using certain promotions and closing tactics, it’s a good bet that your competitor is using these techniques because they work. Which means you may also want to emulate some special promotions in your own company’s marketing program.
Step 4: Research Trade Publications in Your Industry
Start by getting a stack of back issues of the top two or three trade publications in your industry. A great start is by searching on the internet. A year’s worth of back issues is a good start, and two years worth is even better. Next, flip through the pages of each issue, and pretend that you’re very busy, somewhat disinterested reader. For example, the typical sales prospect you must reach with effective advertising and promotion.
Tear out any ads you see that you might think do an effective job of selling and explaining products in your company’s line of business. Also take note of ads that repeat each and every month, taking special notice a small, fractional page ad. The workhorse of the advertising business. Chances are, ads that repeat over long periods of time do so because they work. They pull in sales leads and new orders time after time.
Step 5: Publicly Available Information on Competitors and Markets
Your competitor’s website: obviously, the quickest way to see how your competitors sell their product is to go to their website. Study their websites promotional product copy, download their PDF brochures, check their press releases for new product announcements and sales copy. If your competition offers some type of free email newsletter, sign up for it.
Gather as much information as you can on how your competitors talk about their products. Let the best of this information influence you when it’s time to start your own copywriting process.
Public company information: well not strictly related to the topic of writing advertising copy, the financial information that public companies are required to file with the SEC is also an excellent source of marketing and competitive information on any public company.
For example, you can often find information here that a company would not otherwise want to publicize. Such as company assets of its successes, the launch of a new product line, and along with disclosure of key marketing expenditure, by amount.
Outside of a small circle of Wall Street financial wonks, company 10K statements are one of the best-kept secrets for getting marketing intelligence on publicly traded companies.
Let us in on your best tip.