The term “advertising copy” (ad copy) is admittedly pretty broad. There are plenty of ways you can spend your advertising dollars online. There’s social media advertising, search engine marketing/pay-per-click, display ads, banner ads…we could go on.

But for the purpose of this post, let’s talk about the online advertising you likely use that requires the most creativity – ads like search engine marketing and pay-per-click, and even social ads for sites like Facebook. More daunting than creativity, these ads require copywriting. And writing ad copy isn’t easy. It’s especially difficult when you’ve got a few lines to write, but with strict character limits, and you have no clue where to start. Oh, and did we mention you have a small business to run?

We’ll try to make writing ad copy a little more palatable by sharing marketers’ top secrets. Follow these tips, and you’ll have your audience clicking so often their thumbs will get tired.

Shine Light on a Problem

Marketing 101 says the best products and services out there are the ones that solve problems. The trick here is that not everyone knows exactly what problems they have, and if they do, they may think they already know the solutions. It’s your job as a local business owner to use ad copy to sympathize with your prospects’ problems and show you’re there to help.

How to do it:
  • Figure out the top, most common, problem you help your customers solve. Make it obvious in your ad copy. The goal here is to help customers remember they’ve got a problem to solve. Pro tip: Resist the urge to talk about your top offering as your customers’ main problem. If you’re a landscaper, your customer’s problem is not that they need to redo their yard – it’s WHY they need to redo their yard. Maybe they’re embarrassed of how much they’ve let their hedging overgrow, they’re clueless on which flowers and plants are best for this season, or they don’t know how to stop some new weeds from getting out of control. These are the problems to talk about.
  • Take it a step further, and dig into the pain points that problem causes. Doing so will attach emotions to your copy, helping prospects personally connect with your business.
  • Take it even a step further, and explain what that problem could cause if not dealt with soon.
What it looks like:
  • “Does your yard have you avoiding the neighbors? Embarrassed by how much you’ve let it go?
  • “All this talk about ‘summer bods’ got you scrambling to catch up?”
  • “Hate the dentist? You’re not alone. But those less-than white teeth are calling out for help.”
Establish Yourself as an Authority

Call us a broken record, but we’ll say it over and over again: people buy from people (and businesses) they trust. But it’s awful hard to trust you if they haven’t met you. Even more difficult – how can they trust you if all they’re getting is the “online” version of you?

You can’t shy away from tooting your own horn (“toot, toot”), especially when it comes to marketing your business. So the next thing to do in your ad copy is to establish yourself as an authority. We touched on similar tips in our recent post, The Importance of Social Proof and How to Build Yours. It’s going to be rare to receive public kudos and shout-outs from others, so there’s no one you can count on better than you to brag on your business.

How to do it:
  • Show off your current customer base. How many current, happy customers do you work with? If it’s an impressive stat, it may be worth incorporating into your ad copy.
  • Talk about your history of success. Have you been in business for more than 50 years? Say so!
  • Have you been recognized or certified by any respectable or noteworthy organizations? Mention these as well.
What it looks like:
  • “Our 2,500 happy customers can’t be wrong.”
  • “Family-owned since 1963,”
  • “Our fully licensed contractors don’t take any shortcuts.”
Make It Sound Undeniably Easy to Hire You

Make it sound easy to work with you. Not just easy, easier than any of your competitors – big or small.

How to do it:

Make it clear how you reduce the stress of working with you, as compared to more well-known brands. Maybe your turnaround time for product delivery or job completion is faster. Maybe you’re able to provide more personalized customer service or longer-term support. Maybe you offer hassle-free returns.

What it looks like:
  • “No obligation – free for 30 days!”
  • “If you’re not happy with it, return it within 14 days – no questions asked.”
  • “We’ll provide ongoing support afterward to make sure you’re 100% satisfied.”
Don’t Forget the Promotions

Many online ads, whether in search engines or via social, include promotions that entice readers to click through. If you can afford to include a smart incentive in your ad copy, you’ll improve your chances of competing with other ads. These guys are pretty important attention grabbers, so they usually go in the headline of the ad.

How to do it:
  • Create urgency with a “buy before time runs out” limited-time type of offer. If consumers feel like they’re getting in on a soon-to-expire promotion, they’re likely to feel compelled to buy from you over others without similar offers.
  • Mention any steep discounts you’re offering and on which products and services you’re offering them.
  • Make the call to action clear. Don’t offer a discount then ask consumers to like your page or follow your business on social. Make the offer easy to redeem with a “Buy Now” button or “Contact Us to Claim” phone number.
What it looks like:
  • “Flash Sale – 50% Off Your First Session! Get in on it now, before they’re all booked.”
  • “Spring Is Here! Take 30% off select annual flowers, only.”
  • “Dog Grooming in Time for Memorial Day Weekend! Book today and get 15% off.”
Get Going

One of the most important tricks of the ad trade is remembering to measure the effectiveness of your ads and adjust as needed. Try not to let any ad run for more than a month without even slight updates to the copy.

Feeling unsure about writing smart ad copy or measuring your advertising effectiveness online? We can help. Get started today.