If you have ever read any books on print advertising copy, you probably came across the AIDA formula. This is a basic set of steps or advertising rules that many professional ad copywriters use when the formulate their print advertising.
These four key components for effective print ad copy are Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. Grab a reader’s attention, pull them into your message with interest, create the desire, and encourage them to take action.
Of course, how you approach your ad copy is closely related to the service or product you’re selling, so while this is not a hard and fast rule, it’s always good to keep these items in mind while creating your newspaper ad or magazine advertisement.
Start with the first draft.
- Start with the reader in mind. Who is your audience? What is that one thing that can grab their attention?
- Transition from attention to interest. Now they see your ad. What is the one thing that will hold their interest?
- Create the desire. Now work to make them really want it!
- Fulfill the need. Now appeal to their left brain. What are the benefits, that unique quality of your product or service?
- Present the offer. What’s the one thing that will make them take action? Let them know what to do next!
- Create a sense of urgency. The easiest thing for a reader is to turn the page. Don’t let them get away! Add a limited time offer, or bonus if they act NOW.
The power of a strong visual.
Much of communication is nonverbal. Choose a strong visual that complements your message rather than just takes up space. Now more than ever, the writer should think VISUALLY as well as verbally. This means more than a choice of product illustration or a photograph to grab your target audience. Keep in mind that some copy points are better expressed with a visual image than with the written word.
Don’t just say it – SHOW them!
Or at lease EXPLAIN it to them. Don’t just say something is the best or ‘the premier’ this or that. These days people are very jaded – they’ve seen just about every offer, product and sales message THOUSANDS of times. So explain to them WHY yours is so great. Avoid those ‘lazy’ value-added adjectives like best, most, premier, finest. Those words lost their meaning years ago. Back it up. Be specific in your print advertising copy.
Test your print advertising copy before you spend money on ad space.
Evaluating your own copy or someone else’s copy is always a great idea before you start spending real money. Though keep in mind that it’s just one person’s opinion and so while it is not the last word, it’s always great to have a second opinion.
Here are a few simple tests to be sure you have the strongest possible ad message:
The Tightness Test: Try to cut your copy down to see how much shorter it can be. Walk away from it for a while and then come back and see how much you can take out. There’s usually a way to word something without as many words. Just be sure you don’t start chopping content that is doing the selling. If it is hard to cut anymore, then that means you have nice, tight, hard-working advertising copy.
The Swap Test: Remove the name of your product or service to see if you can use the same copy for your competitor or another copy. (Sort of like MadLibs!) If your ad works just as well with your replacement copy, then chances are your ad message lacks that unique selling proposition (USP) that sets you apart from the others.
The Billboard Test: Print advertising copy is much like a billboard on the highway. Just like someone is distracted and driving by your ad message on the highway at 50 miles per hour, a reader may be flipping through the newspaper or magazine and equal speed… scanning like a speeding motorist. So look at your print ad like a billboard. Give yourself 5 seconds to look at the headline, visual and captions. Does it stop you? (or at least slow you down). Is there enough there to pull you in and get you to read the ad? Get your reader to ‘pump on the brake’ and slow down before the flip to the next page.
The Logic Test: Ask someone who is not seen the print ad copy. Preferably not someone close to the product or service. They don’t even have to be your target audience. Let them read the copy and review your ad sales message and design. Do they understand what your are selling? Does it make sense? You would be amazed how often what makes perfect sense to you can be confusing to a reader. They don’t have the benefit of your knowledge and experience, so make sure you are speaking in a voice that is clear and concise. If the barista at the coffee shop is confused, then figure out why and fix it.
The Actionability Test: Finally, ask people to respond to your print advertising copy. Do they know EXACTLY what to do? Is the contact information clearly visible? Is there a limited time or availability that creates and added sense of urgency? If someone has any trouble ordering or knowing how to respond, then you need to reevaluate your copy and layout to make it easier for the reader.
The Grammar Test: The last of our ‘tests’ is the grammar test. If you aren’t great with grammar find someone who is to proofread your work. The worst thing you can do is spend hours crafting the perfect, most persuasive print ad to then have a typo printed on 100,000 copies of your local newspaper. Spelling errors and poor grammar is a quick way to lose credibility fast. And with software tools available like Grammarly that checks both your spelling and grammar, there’s no excuse.
Effective print advertising copy starts with four basic components – awareness, interest, desire and action. And if you follow a few simple rules and wrap it up into a great print ad design, you are sure to maximize the affectiveness of your next print magazine or newspaper campaign.