Tag Archives: advertising-copywriter

A FORMULA FOR ORGANIZING YOUR BUSINESS WRITING

organizing_BUSINSS_WRITING

Are you confident in your writing ability?

I’ve encountered lots of people that truly dislike writing. Often, they become my clients!

When I receive a new assignment,  I first complete the research or interviews I need to put together the piece, then begin the organization of the material.  I find that this step is usually 50% of the total job, with the other 50% being the actual creation of the content in the correct tone or brand voice to achieve the client’s results. In some cases the percentages change but knowing how to organize your writing is a big part of the battle won.

If you’re one of those people who have trouble getting started with your writing, I offer this simple formula to help you organize virtually any piece of business writing and can even be applied to other marketing communications pieces such as advertisements and web content.  I’ve found that in most cases, the formula is present in one form or another in what I am reading.

Ready? Here’s my formula for most pieces of business writing:

1. INTRODUCTION—Greet or acknowledge the reader appropriately.

2. STATEMENT OF OBJECTIVE—tell the recipient the reason for the communication

3. EXPLANATION-add details that will enhance the information you are trying to give.

4. CLOSING-include a call to action or next step in the discussed activity.

It’s very simple isn’t it? Let’s examine some examples.

THE FORMULA IN A BUSINESS LETTER/EMAIL

This follow-up email, composed after meeting a prospective client at a networking meeting.

Dear Nick,

I enjoyed meeting you at the networking meeting Tuesday.

 At the meeting you had requested information about my company and it is enclosed.    We are the biggest manufacturer of widgets in the tri-county area and are known for our competitive pricing and exemplary customer service.

 I will call you next week to discuss your needs for our services.  Again, it was a pleasure meeting you!

In a letter or mail, the INTRODUCTION is of course, the “Dear” opening and perhaps a personal statement.  Did you catch the STATEMENT OR OBJECTIVE?  It was the next sentence, mentioning that Nick had asked for some information about the company.  The EXPLANATION follows, which is the description of the company and what they are known for. Depending on your audience and your objective, it is possible to sell as you supply the explanation, which is what I did here. The CLOSING call to action refers to the next step, which is to hopefully place an order.

 THE FORMULA IN ADVERTISING COPYWRITING

Sometimes it’s not so easy to “see the formula.”  Writing an advertisement involves a creative process much more complex than that of writing a simple email, yet when it’s carefully dissected, there are shades of “the formula” buried within.  Consider the example included here.

Xclutel_Advertisement

INTRODUCTION  or “greeting” to the audience is cleverly disguised as a headline to get our attention.

The STATEMENT OR OBJECTIVE of the communication is to introduce the company called Xclutel with a statement of what they do.

The EXPLANATION  goes on to explain what else they do–their unique features and benefits.

The CLOSING includes a “call to action” asking to contact them for a no-cost evaluation. All necessary information to do so is supplied.

Now that you know the formula, it’s easy to spot it in different areas of marketing communication  and to put it into practice yourself.  So next time you’re staring at a blank screen needing to write about something, remember the simple four-step formula.  And be sure to send back a comment and tell me what happens when you do!

 

THE HEAD VS. THE HEART: A FREELANCE ADVERTISING COPYWRITER’S TAKE ON FEATURES AND BENEFITS

Big Ideas Writing Blog

If you’re a business owner, your product or service has both features and benefits.  Both are important in the advertising and marketing process, but there is a critical difference between the two that can really be boiled down to this:  features appeal to the head, while benefits appeal to the heart.

A feature is a characteristic of your product or service.  For example, you may offer the lowest prices in town, or the highest quality product or the best customer service.  You may have a different approach to doing what you do or do it faster than the other guys. These are the features you offer for your product or service that consumers rationally weigh to make purchasing decisions.

A benefit, on the other hand, is the extra special something the customer gets when they purchase your product or service.   While the list of product features will appeal to the rational part of us, the benefits of buying or purchasing a product or service may appeal to our emotions.  Benefits give us an emotional connection to the product–a resulting good feeling, like security, love or status.  The benefit might also be a byproduct of buying the product—saving time, money, or hassle.

A good example of this is in the fashion world, where many of us are apt to “pay for the label” in our clothing.  While we may be able to buy a similar shirt, in a similar style from somewhere else, we may want the real thing from the original designer.  Even when the real shirt and the facsimile shirts have indistinguishably similar features, we feel the benefit of buying from the designer.  We are wearing a “genuine” brand and it makes us feel good, successful, or rewarded in some way.

In marketing communications and website copy, it is always preferable to emphasize benefits over features to tell the audience not just what you do, but what great outcome they can expect when they choose you.   However, in advertising, when a company’s offering is truly unique and has a feature that is not available from the competition, advertising the feature can be very effective.

 Advertising to the Head

Big-Ideas-Writing-Advertising-Copywriting-Blog

This advertisement from Dyson goes straight to the head, and the feature.  It  appeals to our rational decision–making process. If I don’t want my vacuum to clog, I should buy a Dyson. It’s that simple.

No finesse and subtly here, but the ad works because they are making a claim that other vacuums either cannot, or have chosen not to attempt to make.  The sheer fact that they make the claim so plainly holds power in itself. We think to ourselves, this feature must really perform!

However, for companies whose product is mighty similar to the competition’s, they may need a more emotional appeal focused overtly or subtly, on benefits.  Take insurance for instance. 

Advertising to the Heart

Big-Ideas-Writing-Blog-Advertising-CopywritingThis ad goes directly to the heart, doesn’t it?  It is obviously meant to evoke some emotion and it certainly does. We all put ourselves in the place of the car’s owner and inwardly groan.  How would we deal with it?  State Farm Insurance tells us they would be there to help and thereby exploits a key business benefit that we all know to be true: it’s good to do business with people you know.  And State Farm is there to remind us that they are the people you know, our “good neighbor.”

Nike is an established brand of quality footwear but they have many worthy competitors who offer products with similar features.  So, they wisely choose to advertise a benefit.

Big-Ideas-Writing-Blog-Advertising-CopywritingHere we see an atypical athlete chugging away to his fitness goal.  Nike attempts to appeal to us all and exploits the benefit we can derive from having the right footwear. All we need is Nike to find our greatness, and do what we need to in order to succeed, whether or not the odds are against us.   It’s a powerful, emotional message very subtly presented as a benefit to buying Nike shoes.

Have you thought about the features and benefits of your product and services?  It’s the first step to deciding how you would put together an ad.  Does your product or service offer a feature not available from the competition?  Or do you need help determining the benefits of your products to put together a good ad?  I’d be happy to discuss it with you.  Contact me for a free consultation.