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The Lost Art of Ad Copywriting: Getting Back to Basics

While most print advertisements are all picture and limited copy, there is currently a proliferation of copywriting for the web, so it is not a completely dead art. If you are a copywriter and struggling with writer"s block, here are some basic rules of ad copywriting to get you going.
 
KISS
 
"Keep It Simple, Stupid- is the bedrock of copywriting. You have something to sell, so sell it simply. Keep the sentences straightforward and concise. Use bullets for lists; this format is easier for the eye to scan. Whether your target audience is 14 or 44, a simple message never fails.
 
Rhyme and Reason
 
Never overlook the power of mnemonic devices. Rhymes allow your reader to memorize your message without conscious effort. Everyone knows Alka-Seltzer"s, "Plop plop, fizz fizz; oh what a relief it is.- Some evidence suggests that not only are rhymes easy to remember, but they are also powerful ... there"s a human tendency to believe a message that rhymes over one that does not. Make sure that the rhyme is not way off message though; it needs to be pertinent to the core of your advertising objective.
 
Take Advantage of This
 
What are the short-term and long-term benefits that a user will get from your product? Is the product or service valuable because of its social, physical, emotional, and/or financial benefit? Thirst for the merchandise is built up by the benefits you articulate. Consumers must be convinced that only this product can quench their thirst before they will pay for it.
 
Superhero Words
 
The words better not be wimpy. Copywriting is no place for "might- or "maybe- ... these serve only to diminish the product. Keep the verbs strong and active. For example, use "bit- instead of "was bitten- or "presented- instead of "had been presented.-
 
Headlines
 
Get the reader"s attention. If you"re stuck, remember the potent selling tricks you learned in Advertising 101. "Free- is one of the all time greatest sales words; "coupon- is probably the second. Providing coupons is a fast way to convert the product to a sale. "New and improved- has been around the block, but it works like magic. (Coincidentally, "like magic- is another phrase that works.) Other words to employ: you, guaranteed, luxury, and proven.      
 
So get back to your copywriting. The best way to get something done is simply to begin!

By Rita Henry
Get Advertising Jobs, Contributing Editor

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