Improve Your Advertising’s Performance with a Guaranteed Formula
While in the throes of designing a marketing piece, don’t forget the most important design element: your copy. Beyond the basics of proper grammar and correct spelling, the words you use define the message, set the tone and establish the context of your conversation with potential customers. Regardless of the medium, the effectiveness of your message will depend much on what you say and how you say it.
Here’s a simple, easy-to-remember guide to help you write better copy. It’s a hoary old formula that’s been around forever, but it transcends time and technology and applies to your creative project, whether it’s a traditional advertisement or a digital medium. It’s an acronym called AIDA and if you follow its simple principles your copy is guaranteed to be stronger and more effective.
First thing’s first. If you want to start a conversation with someone, especially someone you’re trying to persuade, you must first get their attention. This is the headline in a traditional ad, the subject line in an email blast, etc. So how do you gain a prospect’s attention? By understanding what is important to them and appealing to their self-interest. If you’re reading this blog you probably have an interest in advertising and how to make it better, otherwise you wouldn’t be here.
It’s an old cliché that the most powerful words in advertising are “FREE”, “NEW” AND “SEX.” And it’s an old joke that the most powerful headline is “GET NEW SEX FOR FREE!” But be careful with the promises you make in your attention-getting headline as the inability to deliver a promise will quickly destroy your credibility. If you can, in fact, deliver NEW SEX FOR FREE go for it. If not, stick to promises you can keep.
Okay, you’ve got their attention, now what? Well, now you have to hold their interest long enough to deliver a selling message. This is where you start putting meat on the bone of your headline by providing more information. What are the features of your product or service that are relevant, innovative or otherwise different enough to be interesting? This is the point where the sirens of hyperbole typically start singing, but ignore them. Avoid superlatives, generalizations and platitudes. Be specific and factual, enthusiastic and memorable. Tell the truth, but make the truth interesting.
Alright, you’ve grabbed their attention with your scintillating headline; you’ve kept their attention with fascinating facts; now it’s time to create a desire for what you offer. This is where your copy shifts from explaining features to extolling benefits. This is where your message becomes more personal and more emotional. This is where you stop speaking to their heads and start appealing to their hearts. Even if your proposition is the cold, hard saving of cash you can create desire by describing the benefits of saving money on an emotional level. Know your customers, understand what is important to them and demonstrate your understanding in your offer to them.
And finally, the rubber meets the road. You’ve successfully created a desire for your product or service; now it’s time to close the deal. This is the simplest copy to write but for some, it can also be the hardest. Make it easy by asking yourself two simple questions:
1. What do I want them to do?
2. Why would they do it now?
If your call to action is to “buy now!” don’t be afraid to say “buy now!” and tell them exactly how to do that. Also give them a reason to “buy now” by creating a sense of urgency with a limited time offer, a special price, a value-added bonus or other incentive.
The AIDA formula provides a simple guideline for writing copy with tighter structure, more thoughtful content and more powerful impact. Use it when crafting your next selling message and watch your performance improve.