Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Writing Powerful Book Advertising Copy

Writing for one type of advertisement vs. another will influence what you write. For instance, a full-page ad in a trade publication vs. a banner and for that same publication’s web site will look and feel different. Write for the medium, write for space, write for the readership, and write with one thing in mind: creating an action step.

Is your action step to go to a Web site, to buy something, to download something, to brand yourself or something else? Whatever your purpose, match the ad content to fit it.

Generally, less is more when ti comes to an advertisement. You want people to focus on something. A catchy headline will do it, but not if it is cluttered around text. An image can help  -- a photo, a drawing, a logo. Leave some white space on the borders.  Have a few bullet points, a call to action, and maybe a final line that acts as a zinger or tagline, some type of memorable phrase that sums up what you provide.

It all starts with the headline.

What exactly is it that you want to call attention to?

Ask yourself: Who reads the publication, site, newsletter, blog, newspaper, magazine or pamphlet that you will advertise in? What assumptions do they operate under? What are their needs and desires?

Compare yourself to other advertisers – how do competitors position themselves? Look at prior issues for clues.

Do you want your headline to be a commandment to action (Stop Throwing Your Money Out!), a question (Are You Throwing Away Money?), a statistic (90% Of Your Money Is Lost On Shopping), an emotional plea (Fears of Losing Money Are Rampant), an ego plea (Be Smarter Than Your Neighbor), an analogy to something (Love Your Wife More Than Your Car), etc. A headline can say so much with so few words, provided it taps into a person’s  mindset or frame of reference. If they don’t understand a person or event that you refer to, the headline is meaningless to them.

Headlines can be just a word or two or three. Sometimes ads will shout out: Stop! You Won! Yes! They get your attention. But you need the ad copy to back them up.

Some headlines focus on a deal – SALE! or 80% Off or 2 for 1, or they give a deadline – Buy Before Tuesday – or they tie into a special holiday, anniversary or date – President’s Day Sale or Starbucks Turns 40!

Some ads try to appear like articles – they are advertorials. You don’t usually see them to promote a book. They require a lot of space.

Once you settle on a catchy headline, decide on the font and typeface size. Don’t use italics – it is hard to read in an advertisement. Next, think about how you will use the remaining space. If you will use a visual, what will it be, and where will it go? How do you want the ad copy to wrap around the image? Will you use color and if so, which ones complement each other while helping the text to pop?

For the ad copy that highlights your message, the goal is to say the fewest things that will lead people to take an action step. You will use an economy of words to get their interest engaged. Don’t use the same word twice in an ad. You have some flexibility when it comes to punctuation and even grammar, but only if you can make it appear intentional and for emphasis. For instance, Raid used to promote its insecticide as “Kills Roaches Dead.” Kills and Dead are both needed. One will do but the two together really brings the message home.

Scrutinize each word that you use. Find ways to shorten sentences or bullet points. You really are writing with phrases – not whole paragraphs. See if one word can replace two words. Use action verbs – not the past tense or passive language.  For instance, if you want to say “Readers uncover secrets to better sex” this sounds more active than “Readers have uncovered secrets to better sex.” Actually, we can shorten this to “Readers uncover better sex secrets.” Or you might simply say: “Readers benefit as follows: better sex, a more loving relationship, enhanced communication, fewer arguments, and long-term satisfaction.”

Like everything that you do, test it. Ask others what they think of your ad. See if they fully understand it or draw the meaning it infers.  Show them other headlines, bullets, or images that you dismissed to see if they like them better.

You can also ask the publication you advertise with for guidance on writing the advertisement. They will proofread it but see if they will share ideas, too.

Look at your ad copy to see if anything you wrote can be seen in a different light. Substitute words that have connotations other than what you want people to think or feel. There is a subtle difference, between terms such as cheap and inexpensive or beautiful vs. hot or unaware vs. dumb or fat vs. big or old vs. antique.

Another type of ad is one that seeks to capitalize on a known entity or a major news event. For instance, to push your self-help book your header can be: “Oprah Loves This Book” and then underneath… “if she reads it.” It is a clever way to put Oprah in your ad while not saying she actually endorsed the book. Another ad type could be to say this: “Congratulations, Boston Red Sox” and state their World Series win was tremendous and then lead into your book about sports champions.

The best way to promote you and your book is to make your ad about others – your readers, famous people, significant events, or one’s needs, desires, emotions, dreams, or ego. An ad that says, “buy my book because I am great” won’t cut it. An ad that trumpets a solution to a reader’s problem will get eyeballs to pay attention.

The more selfless your marketing appears to be, the more rewarding you will find it. You merely want to be associated with something good, new, different, better or famous. You don’t have to state in actual words that your book is great or to suggest that you are famous. Your book will sell when people understand the value you are offering.

Knowing your ad position is helpful. Will it be on the inside or outside corner, top or bottom of a page? Will it be in a particular section of the publication or site? What else will be on that page? Once you know these answers you can design your ad accordingly.

Ad Headlines
Which advertising headlines work? The ones that make you stop and look. But why?

·         They ask a probing question that makes you think.
·         They make an outrageous claim that you are amazed at.
·         They tell you something new.
·         They make you laugh.
·         They present an inviting, hard-to-refuse offer.
·         They are in big, bold, colorful letters.
·         They are supported by a stunning visual.
·         They address a timely event or issue.
·         They state a truth you can’t deny.

Companies run multi-million-dollar ad campaigns to advertise products and services, hoping they can lure people to buy, to click on a site, or to identify their company as a leader. What can we learn from Madison Avenue and billion-dollar brands? Selling a book is a smaller scale product when compared to a cruise, a car, or even a coat, but the principles are still the same – sell to people’s emotions, needs, desires, wants and curiosities.

Below are sample headlines that one can find when perusing newspaper and magazine ads today. See what grabs your attention and look to create your own version of an attention-grabbing ad. You will notice a pattern. Sometimes a headline is merely one or two words. They tell you to do, be, avoid or get something. They ask you a question or they resolutely bark a command. They tug at the heart, appeal to the wallet, and conjure up ideal images. The world of advertising, sales, and publicity is littered with words and pictures that create a fantasy state of mind, even if just for a few seconds, hoping to tap into what you believe is perfection or nirvana. We know no one product, experience, service or place can bring us everything we could ever hope for – but that doesn’t stop advertisers from tapping into your pursuit of the elusive.

Here Are Some Headline Samplers:
·         Stop!
·         Yes!
·         No!
·         Sucker!
·         Winner!
·         Everything Exotic and Erotic…A One-Stop Fantasy Depot
·         Home Never Tasted So Good
·         Visit a Wild Place At Tame Prices
·         Don’t Overpay!
·         Cut 10 Years Off The Life Of Your Mortgage
·         Live To 100 And Feel Like You Are 35
·         Freedom From Glasses
·         Don’t Miss This Opportunity
·         Breakthrough Cure!
·         The Hottest Concert Event Of The Year
·         Are You Sick And Tired Of Feeling Sick And Tired?
·         Drive Your Dream Today
·         We’re As Cheap As You Are
·         We Pay More, But Charge Less
·         Make Your Taxes Less Taxing
·         Lose 20 Pounds In 20 Days
·         Nothing Is Simple For Someone In Back Pain
·         Free!
·         We Kill Bugs Dead
·         When Food’s An Emergency, Call.
·         Exciting And Total Legal
·         Don’t Get Ripped Off
·         Free Initial  Consultation
·         Buy Now, Pay Later
·         Be Cool or Stay Hot – We Fix A/C and Heaters
·         Wake Up To…
·         Free Gift With Every Purchase
·         The Perfect Gift For…
·         Experience The Real Thing
·         There Is No Substitute For…
·         Huge Savings
·         Top Sellers
·         Unique and Specially Crafted
·         Hand-Made

Headlines will change over the years and they will vary, industry to industry, but generally, the headline is short and powerful and serves one goal: to get you to read more. You then read more and the goal of that copy is to get you to take an action step. Any ad that can deliver even a tiny percentage of respondents to act now will be a success. When in doubt, don’t be conservative or err on the side of caution with your ads.

You are entering a beauty contest and you will need to showcase your assets – advertising is not for shy folks.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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