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Andrea Hill

Here’s How Writing Good Ad Copy Is Kind of Like Dating

It requires focusing on just one need at a time.

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NO MATTER HOW YOU feel about writing, every small business owner ends up writing promotional copy. Though we all know the instruction to write about benefits not features, that’s not very helpful when the ad has to be in by 5 p.m. and you’re staring at a blank page. What is helpful is learning the basic framework that professional copywriters know will deliver a powerful message every time.

Let’s start by talking about the world’s worst date. The date involves one woman and three men, and the woman has been asked to select the restaurant and entertainment for the evening. One man prefers a casual steakhouse, one man is a foodie with an interest in small plates, and the third guy is vegan. One man lives for outdoor sporting events, one loves casinos, and one prefers art house films.

How on earth is the woman supposed to prepare for this date? What restaurant should she choose? Where will they go after dinner? What should she wear? Though it could be a really fun game to come up with a creative solution to this problem, most solutions will come down to the most bland, offends-nobody-but-makes-nobody-happy-either choice.

A frightening amount of business marketing reads like a woman preparing for a date with three men at the same time. The ads speak to no one person, and they tell no coherent story. Too many ads are the equivalent of eating vegan steak on a small plate at a football stadium while playing baccarat with A Clockwork Orange playing on the Jumbotron.

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Go on One Date at a Time

If you want to write strong promotions, pick one customer to talk to and tell them about one thing. That’s it. So decide who that date will be. Is it an engagement ring buyer? An anniversary gift buyer? A self-purchaser celebrating a major accomplishment? Imagine that person with crystal clarity, and then ask yourself: What does this person need most?

Start with the Most Powerful Need

We’re not looking for a laundry list of needs — we’re looking for the most important one. For the engagement ring buyer, it may be the desire to buy a 2.0-carat diamond within his budget. For the anniversary buyer, it may be the wish that he could somehow express the depth of his appreciation for their marriage. For the celebratory self-purchaser, it may be the powerful hope that this accomplishment is the beginning of great things happening in her life.

Validate the Need

Once you have identified the most powerful need (we’ll continue with our celebratory self-purchaser), write a single statement that acknowledges and validates that need. Perhaps something like:

It’s a Big Accomplishment, but You’re Only Getting Started

Reinforce the Need

The next section of copy should expand upon the single statement that validates the need.

Take time to celebrate every win. Feel the elation. Reward yourself. Harness this feeling to fuel your next achievement, and your next.

Consider the Listener’s Level of Awareness

Now it’s time to consider this person’s level of awareness of what you have to sell. If the person you have chosen to speak to is known to be a fine jewelry buyer, you can go right to selling the jewelry. Your next piece of copy may look something like this:

Our Premio Collection helps you build your fine jewelry wardrobe one reward at a time.

If the person is not known to buy fine jewelry for herself, you may need to help her make a connection between her desire and purchasing fine jewelry.

Give yourself the gift of a custom fine jewelry experience. Let us design for you the perfect memento of this moment in your life; a memento you can wear every day to remind you of your strengths and propel you to your next success.

Bring the Benefits to Life

Finally, bring the benefits of your product to life. You don’t need to list all the benefits of your product, just the benefits most relevant to this story.

Fine jewelry offers many benefits, including:

  • It is beautiful.
  • It is tangible. Unlike a memory, fine jewelry is something you can experience and appreciate every day.
  • It offers longevity. Fine jewelry doesn’t wear out and rarely goes out of style.
  • It has inherent value, made of precious materials that do not depreciate like most other materials do.
  • It can be a legacy, handed down to future generations.
  • It makes a statement, expressing personal taste, style and even values in a way that most other belongings do not.
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For this customer, the most powerful benefit to expand on might be the tangibility.

Every time you put on your jewel, you will remember these feelings and recommit to your next success.

This framework is a proven way to write advertising copy. Even if you’re handing the ad off to a professional writer, think through this framework first, and your copywriter will deliver a better result.

And what about those other dates? Stop worrying about them. You can always go on another date another night. That’s the best way to live your promotional life … one date at a time.

Andrea Hill is owner of Hill Management Group, with three brands serving the jewelry industry. Learn more at hill-management.com.

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