A couple of posts ago I talked about how all of your marketing should be signaling to you whether or not someone is interested in what you have to offer. I thought I would piggyback off of that topic and teach you how I come up with ad copy.
Now, there are all sorts of nuances with copy depending on what platform you are using. Google ads limits you to only 180 characters for example. So, you’ll have to work within the parameters that you’re given depending on the platform. Regardless, what I’m going to teach you today is applicable wherever you’re advertising.
No One is Here for the Ads
The first step is to start with the point that I’m trying to get across. What is the point of the ad? What am I trying to tell people? What do I want people to know after seeing this ad?
This is important of course because if the ad doesn’t clearly communicate the point… then what’s really the point.
Reading advertising is not a leisurely activity that normal people do. No one is sitting by the pool reading the latest advertisements for fun unless, of course, you’re in our line of work.
More likely they’re sitting by the pool reading a magazine for the content, not for the ads.
In a lot of cases, the ads worsen the experience of the content so they just get skipped over altogether.
Think of the commercials that come on just as the TV movie is getting to a good part or the two YouTube ads that show right as your favorite creator is about to tell you something important.
The point I’m trying to illustrate is people are not here for the ads. So, the ads need to work that much harder to get the reader’s attention and to work.
The main point of the ads could be anything really.
- Now offering ______ program
- Registration window is open
- Why students love attending this school
- How this school shapes its students
- Why parents love this school
Storytelling in Advertising
Once I’ve got the main point of the ad, I like to try to communicate it with a story.
This works well on placements that are able to handle longer-form ads – YouTube, direct mail, print, social media, and even website copy.
Yes, your website copy is basically one giant advertisement which is why it pays to hire someone that knows marketing and copywriting to write your website copy.
Check out this post where I talk about why every school is saying the same thing on their websites to get a better understanding of what I mean.
The reason I like going the story route is that stories allow readers to connect with the main point on an emotional level. It personifies the ad, and pulls on the heartstrings, which makes it much more effective in driving the main point home.
Here’s a quick fill-in-the-blank that you can use as a template for the headline of your ads;
- How ______ got ______ by doing _______.
Here’s what that fill-in-the-blank might look like;
- How This Parent Went From After School Care Shame to After School Care Advocate
- How Students Are Becoming Leaders at Never Before Seen Levels at Your School
- How “Bad Students” are Getting “Good Grades” Through Innovative Teaching Methods
From there the usual story-writing principles apply. Set the scene, create tension, resolve it, and end on a happy note. Telling a story about a student who was not “doing good” in a traditional educational setting blossoming under choose your own path style of education at your school is a lot more effective than simply saying “students love our program”.
Coming Up with Off the Wall Advertising Angles
This is the reason you see tech companies focusing on creating content, and telling stories. When you look at it through that lens It’s no surprise that Amazon and Apple have their respective content platforms.
Connecting with a character on a show deepens the relationship that we have with the provider of that show. Suddenly we have a new found love for the brand that brings us that show because it is much easier to connect with stories, personified tentacles of a brand so to speak, than it is to connect with an inanimate object that brand sells.
This is also the reason why brands have mascots or spokespeople. It’s easier to connect with a human, or humanized character than it is to connect with a logo.
Now, you’ll want to write a few different ads from this angle. Sometimes the first one you write is the homerun, most times it’s not. A good rule of thumb is to severely edit one version of the ad. Take out all of the fluff and use as few words as possible – usually we use more words than we need to when writing these types of ads.
Of course, you’ll want to create ads from different angles as well. I usually prefer to create an ad mix that looks like this
- A couple of stories
- A couple focusing on benefits
- A couple of strange off-the-wall ideas that would really catch people off guard
Here’s a strategy for coming up with strange off the wall ideas.
Look around the room you’re sitting in right now and pick one object that you see.
Then think of a person. Any person, dead or alive. Now, combine those two together and ask yourself “how would I fit both of those things into this ad and have it make sense?
So right now looking around my room I see my couch and the first person I’m thinking about is Albert Einstein. So the ad might read something along the lines of “Einstein didn’t come up with his theory of relativity from the couch… but you could. Join our Leading online physics program today and see what you can accomplish from the comfort of your couch.”
Without doing this exercise there’s no way I would have come up with anything close to this ad and that’s the beauty of it.
It allows you to get creative on demand which is always the hardest time to be creative.
The very nature of these ads makes them effective – their off the walledness gets them read and that’s the first hurdle to jump through in advertising.
Let me know what you think of this post by sending me a message on LinkedIn, I’d love to continue the conversation with you on there. Until next time, I’ve been Nick and I’ll see you next week!