Life as a copywriter is anything but dull. I get to write about many interesting things and in several formats. One day I'll be writing website copy for a finance company; the next I'll be writing a press release for a charity. One of the things I really enjoy is writing adverts.

In this post I explain the steps I took to write a small advert for TXG Compression Wear.  If you find this useful please share. I welcome your comments.

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TXG advertTXG Compression Wear

TXG Compression Wear is a New Zealand-based importer of high-quality compression socks. Compression socks increase blood flow in the legs by reducing the diameter of swollen veins. Sports people wear them to improve muscle recovery times. Compression socks are also worn by people with health conditions like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and lymphedema.

The challenge

TXG required a small advert for a local newspaper. As you can see, there was limited space, so my challenge was to create a compelling advert with a minimal number of words.

Research

When writing any advert, I start with research. I want to learn as much about the product or service as possible. So, I usually interview the client and ask them to supply any relevant material.

Here are some of the things I want to know:

  • the benefits
  • how the product/service is different
  • who the target market is
  • what objections people might have about the product/service.

The better understanding I have, the easier a product or service is to sell.

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Target market

For an advert to be effective, it must be specific. So, it's important to be crystal clear about who you are targeting. You see, people respond to adverts that speak to them directly; that address their particular needs.

Sometimes my clients don't want to be too specific; they think they'll miss out on customers. I don't know how many times I've heard, "Our product can be used by anyone." This may be true. However, the more general an advert is, the less impact it will make. It may receive plenty of views, but it is unlikely those views will convert into customers.

In TXG's case, they could have targeted several market segments. For this advert, though, they chose people who enjoy an active lifestyle but are restricted by health conditions like DVT or varicose veins.

Headline

Many copywriters believe the headline is the most important part of an advert. I agree. The headline is what the reader sees first. If it's no good, the chances are no one will read the rest of the copy.

How to write a headline

When writing a headline, there are several approaches you can take, such as a:

  • news-style headline
  • question headline
  • benefit headline
  • how-to headline
  • trigger-word headline.

For TXG's advert, I used question-style headline, Want to be active but it's just too painful?

Include a benefit or pain

Your headline must speak directly to your audience. TXG were appealing to people who enjoy an active lifestyle but are restricted by health conditions like DVT or varicose veins. So, I referred to the frustration (pain) they must feel in the headline.

The copy

What's the second most important part of an advert? The first sentence. Once the headline has attracted the reader's attention, it's time to reel them in.

I try to start the first sentence with as few words as possible. In this case, you can see I used just one. Starting with a short sentence makes it easy for the reader — it draws them in. In the first sentence and the following words I also re-emphasise the issues they face: Swollen legs, DVT, spider or varicose veins .... This assures the reader that the advert is meant for them.

In the next section of the advert I explain how compression socks can help. Notice that I list benefits, not features. For example, I say, Prevents DVT when travelling. A feature would be, Reduces the diameter of veins in your legs and increases blood flow. The reader only wants to know how they will benefit, not the technical details.

Call to action

The call to action is, Reclaim your active lifestyle. Order today. When writing it I used the following rules as a guide. A call to action must:

  • be clear
  • tell, not ask,  the reader what to do
  • tell the reader to do one thing only — Order today
  • tell the reader when to act— today
  • give the reader a reason to act — Reclaim your active lifestyle.

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