So you want to write? - part 5 of 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Published 01/11/2007

Business Words

Now we move to a much trickier area - advertising words. Much has been written on the subject, in part, because advertising costs an awful lot of money! When a big company places an advertising campaign across a number of newspapers and magazines, the cost is so great that the additional cost of employing a researcher, to find out how effective it has been, is relatively small. Thus, these people know what has worked for much of the time - but certainly not all of the time. A body of folklore has developed on certain matters and you might as well hook into it rather than go your own way.

By way of example here are some of the 'facts': · Adding an 0800 telephone number to an advert increases the call-up response by 20%. · Adding a coupon adds 13% to a response. · Adding 'odd' numbers to a list improves response. Use of 5, 10, 20, 100 suggest that you have rounded your data up. The use of 3half , 7, 11, 104, etc suggests greater accuracy to your claim.

Should you take the above 'data' at face value? Well in the absence of anything else, you might as well. Most of what is written in this article has been culled from a variety of written sources and perhaps the most telling was that of Leo Burnett - "I have learned that it is far easier to write a speech about good advertising than it is to write a good ad".

Let's suppose you are preparing a piece of pop-up artwork to place on your stand at a bridal fair - what should it contain? Be aware of one thing, you have between three and six seconds to grab the attention of the passers-by - so what ever it is, it has got to be good, quick and arresting! The purpose of the popup is to stall the passers-by just long enough for you to make eye contact, engage with them and get them onto your stand. Once you have them there your job is to get them to book your services, preferably before they even visit your competitors!

As photographers, you should know what makes a good picture but now you need some words. The first question is 'who am I trying to stop?'. It is unlikely to be a 'bride' and her intended, more likely a bride and her mother/sister/best friend. Assume it is a female audience and plan accordingly - you may be proud of your shot of the leggy model draped over the Ferrari, but this is not the place to use it! When looking at any 'advertising' literature, people skim first, looking (in order) at the pictures, then the headline, then captions and finally, if hooked, the body text (you may not even have body text on a pop-up by the way).

The headline should be readable - do not use all capitals or fancy script type faces. If your headline poses a question and the answer is 'no' your prospect has just left the scene - they are also likely to be on their way if the answer to the question is 'so what?' If the posed question has perfect content it will arouse enough curiosity for the viewer to pause long enough to satisfy that curiosity and potentially hook them in. For a poster that is probably enough - if you have not charmed them on to your stand by now, you may never do so.

Suppose then we expand the brief to include advertising literature that your newly acquired prospects will hopefully leave with, or equally likely, the potential prospects who snatch the literature from your stand-holder and melt away while you are with other people. Assuming that they are new to the literature, the process follows the same trend - pictures, headlines, captions, etc, reaching the body copy last of all. An initial skim of literature usually occupies between zero and seven seconds, scanning lasts 30 to 90 seconds and, once hooked into the literature, body copy will occupy as long as it takes.

In general then use words sparingly, use short words and keep sentences short - imagine each word

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1st Published 01/11/2007
last update 07/02/2018 11:58:24

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