Reviewing my analytics yesterday, I noticed someone searched for this:
I’ve never written that post, and I thought it was about time to write it. It’s taken me two decades of experience, years of continuing education and thousands of ads to articulate these steps:
- If it’s a new product category or business, or you’re unfamiliar with it, do some keyword/trigger and consumer research.
- What’s the goal of your ad? Are you promoting an event or trying to build a brand?
- Are you speaking to relational or transactional customers?
- Know your one main idea. See it clearly. Is it to position yourself against a competitor? Is it to build credibility?
- Know the ad’s one key takeaway. Have more than one? Then you have more than one ad to write.
- Know your brand diamond and your company’s why. Make sure your ad properly filters through these.
- Know how you want to end. What do you want the consumer to do next?
- Anticipate any objections. Address them. This may require a campaign.
- What mood do you want to convey? Choose music to put you in that mind frame – this isn’t music for the ad, this is tonal music to help you write the ad.
- Eliminate all other distractions. Close email turn off your phone.
- Pick a voice. Who’s the narrator of your story? The business owner? A customer? John Cusack? Who?
- Open big. Serve up a juicy first mental image in the headline, opening shot, or opening line.
- Bridge to the benefit your business delivers, but show the benefit. Don’t tell her you’re courteous. Open her door.
- Write a long, crappy first draft.
- Find any claims you make. Substantiate them. Prove it.
- Kill any cliches and ad speak.
- Whack adjectives. Amplify your verbs.
- Make sure you’re talking about the customer more than yourself.
- Be active. Put me in the scene.
- Edit it for clarity.
- Proofread it. Have someone else proof it, too.
- Edit it again for clarity.
- Perform the ad for five people and ask them two questions.
- What was the main idea?
- Does this accurately reflect our company values?
If at least four of the five don’t give you the same answer to the first question in step #23 and all five don’t respond “yes” to the second question, please return to step #1. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
There you go. Sorry, there aren’t just ten steps, and it isn’t basic. I’ll have something equally important to say about this tomorrow.
24. Leave your audience wanting more.