Everything you need to know to write your own ad copy in 1011 words.
Businesses pay copywriters like me a lot of money to write their ad copy.
So that you don’t have to, I’m sharing my exact copywriting process and my favorite frameworks.
Make sure to read all of the remaining 939 words before you start writing your ad copy.
What makes people pull out their credit cards?
There are two reasons to buy: moving closer to please or further away from pain.
Last Friday, I spent $52 on whisky in a local bar. I laid down that money for pleasure.
The morning after, afraid my head might explode, I downed a glass of water with a pack of Alka Seltzer. I bought that Alka Seltzer to get me away from pain.
Think about the last few things you paid for.
New flagship phone? You wanted to move closer to pleasure.
New love novel? You wanted to move closer to pleasure.
Software for work? You wanted to move further away from pain.
… you get my point.
You can categorize any purchase in pleasure-motivated or pain-motivated.
Knowing and exploiting this is the foundation of the psychology of copywriting.
“But people drink to get away from pain too?”
One might drink to drown their sorrows (move farther away from pain). Another might take painkillers to get high (move closer to pleasure).
But those aren't the people you want to sell to. They're not your target customer.
My 3 favorite frameworks.
Think back to the last time you went to a bar for cocktails. Can you see the bartender making your drink?
The little tin cup he uses to measure his spirits is called a jigger. They are often hourglass-shaped.
Just like the bartender’s jigger is a specific tool for a particular task, so are these frameworks. And just like no jigger is better than the other, no framework is generally superior.
What framework you use is up to you.
People buy because they want to kill a pain. With the PAS technique, we exploit this desire.
We start by reminding them of (or creating) pain. Next, we agitate. We pour salt into the wound and make it worse. Ideally, the reader breaks out in cold sweat at this point. In the end, we hand them the painkiller: our product or service.
People also buy for pleasure. That’s what we exploit with the FAB technique.
We start by writing down the one feature that is most likely to fulfill their desire. We tell them what advantage they gain by using that feature and push their pleasure point with a benefit.
Sometimes you want to tell a story, or you need longer ad copy to explain your product or service. That’s when AIDA comes in.
Your first job is to grab their attention. On social media, you usually do this with the ad’s image or video and the headline. Next, you make them interested and create a desire. Once the desire is there, you tell them to take action.
The CTA (call to action) uses the open-loop technique, but that’s one for another day.
Step by step.
Just like it helps to have a framework, it helps to have a process for writing. With a sense of direction, you won’t stare at your empty screen for too long.
If you write copy for your own business, you should know what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to. If you don’t know it yet, here’s what you need to figure out:
- Create your persona. Think-up your ideal customer. What do they want? What do they need? What keeps them up at night? Give them a name, a personality, and a face.
- Map out the buyer’s journey(s). Your persona doesn’t just wake up one day and decides to throw money your way. Becoming your customer is a three-step journey for her. First, she becomes aware of a problem or need (Awareness). She looks for solutions, and one of those solutions is what you’re offering. But, there are many different kinds of products or services that can help your persona. She is considering all of them (Consideration). In the end, she thinks the kind of product or service you’re offering is what she needs. But you aren’t the only one with that product or service. She now has to decide to whom she wants to take her business (decision).
- Use the value proposition canvas. For each persona, create a positioning statement. This is as simple as filling the blanks in this sentence:
"For (target customer) who (statement of the need or opportunity), the (product name) is a (product category) that (statement of key benefit – that is, compelling reason to buy). Unlike (primary competitive alternative), our product (statement of primary differentiation)."
The material you have from your research is the pieces from a puzzle, and the frameworks are the picture on the box.
Try making the pieces fit.
First drafts are (almost) always shit. No matter how good a writer you are, you’ll need to go back and edit.
When you’re done with the writing, wait some hours—or a day—, and read the copy to yourself. Read it out loud. You will hear what works well and what sounds off.
Once you think it’d sell, have someone else read it. If you can, have someone who fits your persona. If you get a “That’s really good,” toss your paper and start over.
Only when they say “Where can I buy that?” you know you struck gold.
That’s it. I’m out.