I've always been a little nonplussed by those who imagine a distinction between salespeople and ad writers. Essentially, they do the same thing in different media. So even if you've never written an ad, if you know how to sell something, you can create effective ads for all sorts of media. Here's how:
Imagine making a sales presentation, in writing, to a person you've never met and know very little about. You could do it, right? You'd simply have to depend more on your product knowledge and less on your sparkling smile, steady gaze and winning personality. You'd have to write plainly and clearly:
- What you're offering to do
- How you plan to do it
- Why your offer is better than your competitor's
Congratulations. You just wrote a basic ad. Mail it to someone, or to several someones, and see what happens. If you said something worth hearing, you're likely to make a sale.
Now organize your thoughts into the fewest possible words so you'll be able to better hold your prospect's attention.
Oh, so you've decided to make this a good ad! Remember, shorter is better. Saying more in fewer words is the key to holding people's attention. There's no such thing as a good sales letter that's longer than a single page.
Locate the most meaningful statement in your presentation and move it to the beginning.
This is going to be a powerful piece of persuasion. Open big if you want to see big results. And make a single point wholeheartedly. Weak ads make multiple points halfheartedly.
Trim what you've written so it can be read out loud in a specific number of seconds.
You've just created a radio ad. Most beginners will instinctively write ads that require about 90 seconds to read out loud. Tighten it to 60 seconds and watch your ad gain power. A real pro can make that message ring like a bell in exactly 30 seconds. And the best of the best can rock the world in just 15 attention-riveting seconds.
Dramatically increase the point size of your opening statement and add a photograph or illustration to reinforce it.
Wow. That's a fine-looking magazine or newspaper ad. And it reinforces all the things you've been saying on the radio! You've got the beginnings of a comprehensive marketing strategy here. Keep this up and people are going to think you really know what you're doing.
Instead of a stationary photograph, try using a series of video images to reinforce your radio script.
That's an exceptional TV ad. And hey, look! Your master marketing strategy just got stronger. The only dangerous assumption we're making is that you've got enough ad budget to buy sufficient repetition in all these different media. If you do, great. If you don't, you need to pick just one of these media and then become the king of that mountain.
Now post any or all of these to a website.
Use your website as a 24-hour relationship deepener. Let it serve as an expert salesperson, even if you don't plan to transact money online. Your corporate website should be the most highly organized repository of expert advice and salesmanship within your corporation.
Break these components back apart and use them to prepare, rehearse or illustrate your next face-to-face sales presentation. If you sell by presenting useful and interesting information in a clear and logical manner, you're either a really great salespersonor a clear and coherent ad writer.
Ad writing is simply organized salesmanship. And writing ads can even help your sales pitches. Here's an exercise that'll take you from writing a simple ad to perfecting your sales presentation:
- Write an ad for what you're trying to sell.
- Record your ad on your computer or other recording device.
- Listen to what you've recorded.
- Tweak the script and your delivery of it.
- Record it again and again until you just can't make it any better.
- When you've got it memorized, go deliver your ad in person.
Your polished presentation is going to raise a few eyebrows, and you're going to raise your closing ratio, too.
My point is, selling in ads or in person is simply about communicating the right thoughts in the right order.
Don't let anyone tell you that the information delivered in a successful magazine ad is somehow different than what goes into successful direct-mail letters, radio ads, newspaper ads, TV ads or any other form of media-delivered persuasion.
The right ideas, communicated using the right words, are what selling is all about. If you want your ads to work, make them say what you say when you're face to face with your customers. You won't be far off the bull's-eye.
Roy William's is Entrepreneur.com's"Advertising" columnistand the founder and president of international ad agencyWizard of Ads. Roy is also the author of numerous books on improving your advertising efforts, includingThe Wizard of Ads andSecret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads.