One of the skills most business writers and entrepreneurs have to master is promoting their businesses. One of the ways to do this is by learning how to write adverts.
Ads are one of the most-read types of content writers can create. Great advertising sells. Bad advertising can embarrass an entire company, or miss the target market.
Are you interested in better ad writing that sells?
Here’s how to approach writing ads from the brief to the final draft.
What Is An Advert?
According to Oxford Languages, an advertisement is:
‘A notice or announcement in a public medium promoting a product, service, or event, or publicizing a job vacancy.’
Most advertising aims to be visible, and to be the reader’s push for a call-to-action. The action is the goal, whether the consumer clicks on a link or buys the product.
Tip: Not all advertising is for consumers. Advertising can be from one business to another, as business-to-business (or B2B) advertising.
Types Of Adverts
Fiction is found in short stories, novellas, novels, and epics.
What about ads?
While more exist, here are six different types:
- Advertorials: Advertorials are longer advertisements, and are like feature articles in style.
- Banner Ads: Banner ads appear online or for signage. They use only a few sentences for brief, best impact.
- Classifieds: Classifieds advertise services, stuff, or companies for print or digital listings. Be descriptive and brief.
- Paid Posts: Paid posts are the blog posts of advertising. These link to whatever is being advertised.
- Social Media Ads: Social media ads are for sites like Facebook or Instagram. These require the ability to write brief sentences.
- Script Ads: Script-based advertising is meant for online platforms, radio, or television. Unless you’re comfortable writing scripts or dialogues, this might not be your niche.
A Standard Formula For How To Write Adverts
Most advertising is formulaic. Companies know what works for specific consumers or markets. Writers don’t need to know everything about psychology to write a good ad.
For advertising, try using this outlining formula:
Word Count = (Hook + Subject + Market + Tags)
A hook grabs the reader’s eye. The subject is your topic, but the market is who you are advertising to. Tags should be buzzwords, or any other persuasive words you might want to use.
Next, expand ideas for the hook, subject, and tags to fuller sentences. Soon, you’ll see an ad form. (This depends on the word count for the type of advert you’re writing.)
Below are two examples using the suggested formula. Always remember your tone, too!
Imagine writing a banner advertisement slogan for a new cheese drink. A 25-word limit is required. The market includes parents and health-conscious buyers.
- Approx. 25 words = (‘It’s great’ + ‘Cheese Drink’ + ‘Parents & health’ + ‘Drink it’)
- ‘New Cheese Drink: It’s excellent for everyone (and you just haven’t tried it yet.)’
Write a banner advertisement for a new grammar workbook. A 25-word limit is required. The market includes anybody who wants to be a better writer.
- Approx. 25 words = (‘It’s essential’ + The Grammar Workbook’ + ‘Writers + everybody else’ +’Improve your writing’)
- ‘New Grammar Workbook: It’s essential for anybody who wants to improve their writing. Buy it today.’
5 Tips For How To Write Adverts
Ads by freelancers compete against advertising campaigns from larger agencies. If your pitches are fresh enough to keep up, that gains pitching points for you as an ad creator.
1. Mind Advertising Regulations
Advertising is controlled by advertising regulations of individual countries (and sometimes advertising platforms). While by-country laws differ, certain guidelines are true for advertising everywhere.
Ads should never:
- Misrepresent the product or service.
- Mislead the reader or be unclear.
- Use inaccurate language, such as ‘new-and-improved’ to misrepresent the merits or and benefits of the product or service.
- Spam intended readers, or misrepresent the links they click.
Illegal advertising exists, but should always be avoided.
2. Pay Attention To The Brief
Most editing rounds can be avoided by paying attention to the brief.
When reading assignments:
- Never skim.
- Always ask if you don’t understand.
- Know exactly what the client is asking.
- Ascertain what the brief and goal entails.
It always saves time before the outline has even started.
3. Write With Plain, Persuasive Language
All advertising persuades its intended market, but must also be understood.
Plain language guarantees a reader’s understanding. Persuasive language are the words that push the product (or service). Advertising writers rely on both for successful writing.
Persuasive words convince. It might include words like ‘now’, ‘reliant’, ‘excellence’, or even the simple word ‘click’.
What can your words make the reader think, feel, or see in relation to your advertised thing? How can you make sure that any reader understands the message?
4. Be Original (& Check On It)
Almost every word of advertising requires originality. Without it, ads are derivative and dull (or a lawsuit in the making).
Before submissions, verify originality against plagiarism checkers like Copyscape or Writer.com. Should copywriting raise a flag, rewrite or edit and check it again.
5. Lessons From Unsuccessful Advertising
Marketing failures can teach writers what to do right. An advertisement can never contain spelling mistakes, insensitive or offensive topics, or confuse the market.
- Avoid spelling mistakes. The Wicked Bible was published in 1631, and was a version with disastrous errors. Mistakenly, it removed the word ‘not’ from the part about not committing adultery.
- Avoid insensitive topics. A UK McDonald’s advert showed a mother-and-son talking about their deceased loved one (and their love for the Filet-O’-Fish sandwich). Citing insensitivity, it was immediately banned.
- Avoid real-life information. LifeLock printed a random social security number on an advertising banner, illustrating their services. Unfortunately, it was real (and the ad was pulled).
- Avoid confusion. Burger King ran an ad with archive footage of artist Andy Warhol eating a burger (but with no reasons why). Viewers were confused, and probably ate another instead.
The Final Word
Learning how to write adverts is just like any other form of writing. While horror writing thrills when it’s done right, ad writing sells. It’s a skill that every writer out there should learn.
What’s the best (or worst) example of advertising you can name?
If you want to improve your business writing, buy The Complete Grammar Workbook.
By Alex J. Coyne. Alex is a writer, proofreader, and regular card player. His features about cards, bridge, and card playing have appeared in Great Bridge Links, Gifts for Card Players, Bridge Canada Magazine, and Caribbean Compass. Get in touch at alexcoyneofficial.com.
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