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David Ogilvy, the British ad executive and founder of Ogilvy & Mather, is widely considered the father of modern advertising. He certainly made his mark throughout the entire 20th century as an authority in what it takes to capture the attention of the buying public. Here is one of the more famous quotes attributed to Ogilvy:
“It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. I doubt if more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea.”
The details of how Ogilvy approached a marketing campaign may no longer apply in the internet age, especially since Ogilvy died in 1999, but the principles he espoused are as true today as they were when he first began his career in the 1930s.
As you go through this article detailing advertising and marketing copy, remember one simple word: ideas. Advertising and marketing copy should put ideas in the minds of your customers, ideas that convert them from casual browsers to paying customers. How you present the ideas makes all the difference in the world.
What is Advertising and Marketing Copy?
Advertising and marketing copy takes many different forms. In a general sense, this type of content is intended to sell products or services. It can be used by non-profits for the purposes of enlisting volunteers, sourcing donations and the like, but it is mainly the domain of commercial enterprises.
Take a minute and think of one of your favourite brands. Do you associate any slogans or jingles with that brand? If so, you have been affected by advertising copy, whether consciously or subconsciously. A splendid example is the Mr Kipling brand of pastries and cakes. They have been using the phrase ‘exceedingly good cakes’ since 1967.
When rumours of abandoning the slogan began circulating in 2014, nostalgic customers were up in arms. They didn’t want to see it go. Mr Kipling is so intrinsically linked to exceedingly good cakes that people think of them in those terms. So much so that they are upset at any thought of the company abandoning the slogan. That is powerful advertising.
Your organisation may never come up with a slogan as memorable as exceedingly good cakes, but that does not mean you shouldn’t try. Along the way, you will come up with some very good copy provided you take the time to learn, expand your horizons, and try new things.
Bear in mind that advertising and marketing copy is more than just brand slogans. It involves all sorts of things from adverts to product descriptions to landing pages on your website. The goal is always the same regardless of the form a piece of copy takes: sales.
A Word about Copy
Before moving on to the purpose of advertising and marketing copy, we must first discuss the word ‘copy’ itself. For marketing purposes, a copy is defined in three ways by the Oxford Dictionaries:
- Matter to be printed.
- Material for a newspaper or magazine article.
- The text of an advertisement.
The third definition is the one most important to us. Advertising and marketing content consists mainly of the text of advertisements. However, it goes a bit further in the internet age. Marketing copy can also include snippets of text on a website intended to provide a short description of a product or service.
The main difference between copy and other forms of content is length. In the simplest possible terms, copy is short and sweet. In some cases, it is nothing more than a few words or a single sentence. At most, copy should be no more than two or three sentences.
What is the Purpose of Advertising and Marketing Copy?
As you can imagine, the sole purpose of advertising and marketing copy is sales. There is no SEO value in it except to the extent that you might come up with something so creative that other people are linking to it on social media. Other than that, though, it is all about sales.
You should create advertising and marketing copy to provide just enough information to get your customers to look into a product or service in more detail. Within that detail, you can include additional ad copy, but you would focus more on additional information to seal the deal. In this sense, think of copy as a written invitation to a party.
Once you get people in the door, they can start enjoying the party, but not until. That means the invitation has to be killer. It has to be so compelling that people cannot resist coming to your party. Ad copy is the marketing version of the party invitation.
What Style Should I Use for Advertising and Marketing Copy?
Among all the different forms of content, advertising and marketing copy is the hardest one to nail down in terms of style. After all, there are lots of different forms of copy. Advertising and marketing copy can be presented as:
- pay-per-click ads
- printed fliers
- web page banners
- landing pages
- product descriptions
- special offer announcements
- brief videos.
There really is no limit to how ad copy can be presented. If you can find a medium for which a piece of copy would be appropriate, you can certainly use it to your benefit.
So where do we go from here? We go to the seven general characteristics of good advertising copy presented by the MBA Knowledge Base (each is presented as adding value):
- Attention Value – If a piece of advertising copy is to be effective, it must grab the attention of the target audience. This is the number one rule of advertising. If a piece of copy does not demand attention, nothing else matters. It is just copy that takes up space on a page.
- Suggestive Value – Good ad copy plants a suggestion in the minds of the audience members as to the quality of the product or service. Copywriters can use different words and slogans; artists can make use of colours and images.
- Memorising Value – The most successful adverts are those that people remember over the long term. See the reference to Mr Kipling above.
- Conviction Value – Conviction value is explained as a means of adding some sort of convincing argument to ad copy. For example, an e-cigarette company could come up with a creative three-word slogan to sell one of its products. Underneath that slogan could be the phrase ‘because smoking kills’. That’s conviction.
- Sentimental Value – Advertising copy with sentimental value invokes certain feelings in the hearts and minds of audience members. Those feeling should be largely positive, perhaps reminiscent of something from the past.
- Educational Value – Advertising copy can and should educate to some degree. It offers some sort of brief introduction of the benefits of purchasing a product or service.
- Instinctive Appeal Value – Finally, good advertising copy plays on the natural instincts of the target audience. For example, there is the parental instinct for protecting children at all costs. A company selling health products for children would want to take advantage of that instinct.
It is important to understand that all advertising and marketing copy does not have to contain each of the seven elements listed above. They are general characteristics more than anything else. Obviously, the more you can work in, the better the results that copy should generate. But if you can only work in five, that’s okay too.
A Word about Creativity
In closing out this article, it is a good idea to address creativity. In all honesty, you could get away with writing blog posts, informational articles, and even hard news without being an exceptionally creative person. Creativity helps in those areas, but it is not always necessary. The same cannot be said for advertising and marketing copy.
It takes a certain amount of talent and experience to work in the seven general characteristics listed above. It also requires a high level of creativity. If you are not the creative sort, you might be wasting your time trying to write effective advertising and marketing copy. You would probably be better off assigning the task to another staff member or hiring a professional.
Having said that, do not be afraid to give ad copy a try if you are naturally creative. Have some fun with it. See if you are able to come up with a few pieces of copy capable of generating prodigious results.
Here are the other articles in this series: