Most adverts fail. It's sad but true. This is because people — and even professional copywriters — often neglect basic advertising principles.

You see, advertising has always been a competitive business. And with the proliferation of the Internet, in many ways, it has become even more so.

An effective advert needs a dose of flair. But, like a lightning-fast rugby player who can't catch a ball, flair isn't enough if you neglect the basics.

In this post I highlight 5 reasons why your adverts might be failing. If you find this useful please share. I also welcome your comments. 

Here are five reasons why your adverts might be failing:

1: You get lost in the noise 

Most adverts don't stand out — they get lost in the noise. So, the first challenge is to get noticed. How can you do this? Think about your headlines and images.


Headlines are critical. Many copywriters spend as much as 80% of their time crafting them. And after they've settle on one headline, they continue to tweak and experiment.

Headlines are so important because, along with images, they're the first things people see. If your headlines don't attract interest, nobody will read the rest of your copy.

So, what's the recipe for a great headline? Well, a headline should include a benefit — what's in it for the client. And more often than not, it should talk directly to the reader in first person. But, it takes more than that.

Here are some different approaches you can take:

  • How to — people love solutions. For example, How to cure insomnia for ever.
  • Negatives — negative statements are often more powerful than positive statements. For example, 5 reasons why your adverts fail.
  • Questions — asking a question can get people engaged. For example, Do you spend countless hours waiting to fall asleep?
  • Curiosity — people are curious creatures. For example, How a new discovery made a plain girl beautiful.
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Your images mustn't be ambiguous. Don't use them if you require a caption to explain what they are. If your images depict people, make sure they represent those you are trying to reach.

2: Not specific 

The worst thing you can do is speak to everyone. Be specific. Focus on one customer profile and one benefit. This allows you to create powerful copy that connects on an emotional level.

3: Focusing on features

Features are important, but you must focus on benefits — how the reader will benefit from what you have to offer.

For example:

Feature — Our copywriters create advertising material for the web.

Benefit — Our copywriters will drive traffic to your website by creating engaging adverting copy. 

4: No emotional connection

If you don't write for a specific audience; if you don't focus on what that audience cares about, your adverts will fail. So, you must understand your customers — what their "hot points" are.

You can learn about your customers through:

  • Talking to them
  • Talking to your colleagues
  • Testimonials
  • Social media.

 5: A poor call to action

"Call now" is not a call to action. A call to action must be clear, simple to carry out, include a benefit, be in the imperative and tell the reader when to act. Read my previous blog to learn more about calls to action.

So, an effective call to action could be, Call today to learn how to write advertising copy that sells.

This call to action is clear and simple to carry out. Let's look at the other elements:

  • Call today —   tells (doesn't ask) the reader to act (imperative) and when.
  • Learn how to write advertising copy that sells —   the benefit.

What do you think? Can you think of other reasons for adverts to fail? If you enjoyed this post, subscribe to my blog by email. 

Related posts:

Is nobody reading your advertising copy? Consider this simple phrase

3 valuable tips for writing an advert that sells

How to write an effective call to action

How to write a webpage people will read

  1. Hey Andrew,

    Even though I created my blog mainly for reference purposes (my public trading diary if you will) I found your tips pretty useful as of lately started learning about copy and monetizing.


  2. Hey Andrew,

    I would definitely say that this is not my area of expertise but I’ve really been studying it more lately and everything I’ve learned you happen to have mentioned in this post.

    Now I really love hearing that because we both probably have taken a few courses here and there and then read someone’s take on this very subject and it be entirely the opposite. That’s where the confusion sets in.

    I’m going to be practicing more of this in the coming months and I hope to see some vast improvement too.

    Great share and spot on my friend.


    1. Thanks, Adrienne. You’re right, when it comes to marketing there are often many opinions. All we can do is keep an open mind and continue to experiment.

  3. Hi Andrew Healey: You are right while writing a copy we forget basic principles of advertisement which will remain forever whatsoever innovation we make after advent of online world. Basic is always basic and will always hold sway in every type of discipline.
    It is widely observed that instead of selling benefits we try to sell features. Actually we become so stereotyped and sell whatever features we read on a brochure of a product. We fail to convert the features into benefits before telling them to our target audience.
    Once again thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful post.

  4. Great post Andrew!

    You nailed so many valid points in this post. I really don’t want to single out any one particular tip. Because they were all good!

    And none of your suggestion is hard to put into practice. Great job! And thanks for sharing them!

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