“The world overflows with people who understand advertising and can critique, discuss, and explain it. But there are precious few who can write ads that actually work.“
— Roy H. Williams, Wizard of Ads
Advertising is everywhere. It’s on TV, in magazines, on billboards, and even on our social media feeds. And while we may be bombarded with popular ads every day, most of us don’t really think about what goes into creating an famous advertisements.
Advertising is defined as “the activity or profession of producing advertisements for commercial products or services.” Writing ads is about so much more than just commercial ads. The different types of advertising are a reflection of our society and our culture. They can be funny, serious, heartwarming, controversial, or funny advertisements.
Advertising has been around for centuries, with some of the earliest examples dating back to ancient Egypt and Greece. In fact, what ad means in history, the word “advertisement” is derived from the Latin word “advertere,” which means “to turn toward.”
Throughout history, advertising has taken many different forms. From early print ads in newspapers to today’s digital or social media ad campaign, the purpose of creative ads remains the same: to persuade people to buy a product or service.
While the methods may have changed, the principles of effective advertising have not. Success requires an ad to be able to grab attention, create interest, and motivate people to take action.
With the advent of new technologies, the advertising landscape is constantly changing. Today, we’re shifting away from traditional advertising, such as television and print, and towards more digital and social media-based approaches.
This shift presents both challenges and opportunities for businesses. On the one hand, having a strong online presence is more important than ever. On the other hand, there’s a lot of noise out there. It can be challenging to cut through the clutter.
Success in today’s competitive landscape means businesses must learn how to create effective and unobtrusive ads. Here are some tips on writing ads.
How Do You Start Writing an Ad?
“Non-ads admit weaknesses, confess fears, and never try to impress. They speak to the customer in the language of a friend rather than a pitchman.” — Roy H. Williams
When it comes to advertising, writing ads that are non-ads are where it’s at.
“What’s a non-ad?” You ask.
A non-ad is an advertisement that doesn’t feel like an advertisement. It’s authentic, genuine, and human. Non-ads don’t try too hard to sell you something. Instead, they focus on building a relationship with the customer.
Think about the last time you saw a commercial that made you laugh out loud or feel warm and fuzzy inside. Chances are, it was a non-ad.
So how do you start writing ads? First, forget everything you know about traditional advertising. You will not be using any of the same old tricks here.
Instead, focus on being honest, transparent, and relatable. You should be writing ads as you would speak to a friend. Be yourself, and let your personality shine through.
Most importantly, be courageous enough to show your flaws and vulnerability. Writing ads, especially non-ads, is all about breaking the mold and thinking outside the box. So go ahead and experiment with your writing. Try something new, and see what works best for you.
Writing ads effectively requires starting by understanding your audience.
Who are they?
What do they care about (pleasure points)?
What are their pain points?
What are their underlying felt needs?
Once you understand who you’re speaking to and what matters most to them, you can start to craft a more per persuasive message.
Ads in the United States
The U.S. has been:
- Flattered by advertising (“Because you deserve it”).
- Misled by ads (“Lowest prices anywhere”).
- Hyped by ads (“While supplies last”).
- And lied to repeatedly (“Guaranteed!”).
“The result of all this misinformation is a growing numbness to ad-speak. We’re becoming deaf and blind to it. With effortless ease, we shut it out of our minds.”
— Roy H. Williams
What does Roy mean? He means that you must start speaking a new language to stand out – one that’s fresh, interesting, and entertaining. Otherwise, be prepared to be just another annoying advertisement on an app.
Clichés in Ads – That ’70s Vibe
Overused phrases are overrated. They become cliches. They give off the corny, ’70s vibe of the guys with the blow-dried hair and ridiculously long, pointed collars who use the pick-up line, “Do you come here often?”
Corny, but effective for the men – until the ladies start laughing.
If we think of ads as one of these ’70s guys, they don’t get the same reaction. They’re corny and regressive. They don’t even get our time of day. Most ignore them and move on. They only appeal to dads…and guys who don’t have dads.
Advertising – When You’re Building a Brand
“Advertising – when you’re building a brand – is merely a relationship deepener.”
— Roy H. Williams
Advertising’s job is to create public adoration and trust in you BEFORE they need your thing. When you get beyond branding, into bonding, the customer will intentionally keep your brand top of mind when they need what you have.
There’s still good news to be found.
“A seductive new voice in advertising is softening the hearts and winning the wallets of our nation at a record pace.”
— Roy H. Williams
What is that seductive new voice in advertising? Writing ads – specifically, non-ads. These messages are written and designed to be read and enjoyed by the consumer.
These messages’ language is softer, more personal, and often even funny. They use the page’s white space to add visual interest. And they are typically shorter than traditional business ads, making them easier to digest.
What’s driving this trend? In a word: trust.
Consumers are tired of being bombarded with messages that feel like an assault on their senses. They’re looking for brands they can connect with on a deeper level. And they’re willing to pay more for products and services from companies they believe in.
It is good news for businesses willing to invest in high-quality content marketing. By writing ads or non-ads that are compelling, informative, and entertaining, you can earn the trust of your target audience and turn them into loyal customers.
What does a non-ad look like, you ask? Here are a few examples:
- A blog post that provides new, interesting, and different information about your industry or product.
- A video tutorial that shows viewers how to use your product.
- An infographic that breaks down complex data in an easy-to-understand way.
- A behind-the-scenes look at your company culture and processes.
- A Q&A with a company executive or expert on your team.
The key is to create exciting, valuable, and persuasive advertising content for your target audience. If you can do that, you’ll be well on your way to building trust and generating leads through your persuasive non-ads content.
The following are two real renditions of non-ads Roy came across, which should help you solidify this concept.
Non-Ad Example #1
You’re in seat 12-B, reading an in-flight magazine. In a medium olive background, the following three sentences are written in white letters:
Isn’t it amazing how many people will read anything at 36,000 feet? You are now reading this. And even though you’re suspicious of advertising, you’ll keep reading it because it’s obviously an ad.
I’m not going to listen to any more of your excuses. You’re reading all the way through, and you still haven’t gone away. Why are you still reading?
Because this is here. And you are. And you’ve already used up your required, meaningless air travel idle time with your neighbor.
So you’re probably thinking, “Why am I still reading this?” You might even be tempted to believe you’re no longer reading it. Right now, you’ll close this magazine and put it back in that pocket up there.
But then again, you’re still reading it, right? You can’t control yourself. It’s here now, and you’ve come to see it.
You can’t use your cell phone until you’ve departed the runway. By the way, there’s a fantastic bookstore not far from here.
The Verizon logo is at the bottom of the page, while “We know around here” is in bigger letters near the top.
It’s all about like and trust. That’s the objective.
Non-Ad Example #2
The toilet stall at Robbins Bros., The World’s Biggest Engagement Ring Store, was decorated some 15+ years ago as follows:
Take advantage of this chance. Look for a window or an airshaft immediately. Remove your clothing, please. Skivvies, if you must.
Over there, use that hand soap on your entire body. Take a penny and remove the duct’s corner. Now get to work.
You must now secure a conviction. You don’t want to become caught in a rut. Consider your future spouse’s reaction if she walks in and sees your nude lower body protruding like some contemporary artwork installation. That’s something you’ll want to display on the mantle.
If you’re going to squirm like the wind, then do it now. After being set free, grab some clothing and begin a new existence somewhere with difficult extradition practices. Then back to singleness. Yes, the time of your life when you feel absolutely no emotions whatsoever.
If you’re like the majority of bachelors, you wish you weren’t one every night before going to bed. Is there anything more overrated than bachelorhood? Take a look at the important, time-tested bachelor customs that will be missed out on if you don’t go through with it.
Okay, so there’s being a slob. There are also periods of neglecting personal hygiene and not bathing for extended periods of time. You might be hanging out with your unattached pals. A group of guys is getting more creepy with each passing year.
Your best buddy is out there. Your future is out there, as well. Furthermore, the liquid soap itches severely.
How About You? Will You Embrace the Future of Ad Writing?
These companies could leap to the top of their respective industries thanks to innovation and audacity. It was because they had these qualities that they were among the first in the U.S. to embrace non-ads as the future advertising voice. They will most likely have moved on to something else when others in the country realize what they’re doing.
How about you? How will you change with the times?