Guide

Advertising

How to write an advertisement

To create a good print advertisement, you should take the following steps:

  • write a well targeted headline
  • design your advert clearly
  • write compelling advertising text – known as copy

Writing an advertising headline

A compelling headline is vital:

  • A good headline should catch the reader's attention and make them want to read on. It might ask a question or inspire curiosity. It may refer to a specific problem, eg a bed manufacturer could ask: "Had another bad night's sleep?" Or it may appear to offer the solution to a problem, eg "Ever wanted to know the secret of a good night's sleep?"
  • Don't overplay the actual message - people will feel let down if they read on and their expectations are not fulfilled.
  • A headline will encourage people to read on if it offers a clear benefit - such as "never have a bad night's sleep again".
  • You could also use the headline to create a fear of missing out in the reader's mind, eg "last few remaining".

Designing a print advert

Use a clear design to convey your message: 

  • The way an advertisement looks plays a big part in attracting and retaining the reader's interest.
  • Avoid small or complicated typefaces that are difficult to read. And don't mix too many typefaces in one advertisement - use one or two at most.
  • Don't clutter the layout - keep plenty of white space in the advertisement - avoid the temptation to say too much. If your product or service needs more explaining - refer readers to your website or other easily accessible material.
  • Ensure your contact details are clearly positioned.

Writing advertising copy

Use convincing copy to persuade your audience:

  • The amount of text you include depends on the purpose and size of the advertisement. Businesses that want to advertise a sale might have a very limited amount of text accompanied by a headline and a picture of some of the items on offer.
  • Consider the print quality of the newspaper or magazine - a small advert in a poor quality publication will be hard to read.
  • If you're writing a lot of text, it should follow on logically from the headline, build a convincing case and prompt a response from the reader. Back up any claims with facts. Magazine readers generally tend to dwell on the contents for longer than newspaper readers, so tailor the length of your copy accordingly.
  • Good copy draws attention to the benefits of the product or service rather than focusing solely on the features.
  • All the reader wants to know is "what's in it for me?"
  • You should always write your advertisements with the reader/viewer - your potential customer - in mind.
  • Tailor your advert to the type of print media and the potential reader's interests and habits. For example, if you sell gardening equipment, you might write a longer advert for a gardening magazine. You can assume that the reader is already interested in the subject and so is more likely to read all the text. Likewise, you might write a shorter advert for a more general newspaper - where the reader's interest may be less easily sustained.

Remember that businesses have a duty to ensure their advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful. See comply with advertising standards