7 Things to Check Before You Start to Write Your Advert

Honesty is not only the best policy. It is rare enough nowadays to make you pleasantly conspicuous
Charles H. Brower, Batten, BBDO

1. Before you even start, remember, the only reason for writing an advert is to sell you product or service. It’s not to impress yourself or your friends. It’s not even to impress your prospects. It’s to get them to buy your product or service as a result of seeing it.

So don’t try to be cute or clever, or try to win awards. Awards don’t pay the bills.

Everything – every single letter or picture – must serve only one purpose: to sell. If it does not help toward that goal, leave it out.

2. “Honesty is not only the best policy. It is rare enough nowadays to make you pleasantly conspicuous.” – Charles H. Brower, Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn.

Don’t lie to your customer. Don’t even exaggerate. Sure, you may make a sale, but it’s the only one you’ll make to that person.

Keep your business honest and you’ll build a reputation people can trust. And people buy from people they trust.

3. WIIFM – What’s In It For Me.

In other words, what’s in it for your customer? They don’t care that you think your product is the beez neez. If it doesn’t do anything for your prospects, they won’t be interested.

Example: You sell a copywriting course that will turn your customer into a world class copywriter.

So what?

Tell them by learning how to write world-class copy they can earn $15,000 plus 5% of gross profits on every promotion they work on. And they can do this working only three hours a day.

4. David Ogilvy, in his book ‘Ogilvy on Advertising’, said: 5 times as many people read the headline as read the copy.

In other words, if they don’t read your headline, they certainly won’t get to your body copy.

And the best headline is one that offers your reader a benefit quickly and easily.

To write a benefit headline, think about all the ways the product or service can benefit your reader and use the best one, two or three in the headline. What will the product do for your prospect? Will it save them money; make them more money; help them live longer; make them look better?

Whatever the benefit to your prospect, you need to show it in the headline. Again the WIIFM must start with the headline.

Here’s a summary of tips for the perfect headline from Ogilvy on Advertising:

  • 5 times as many people read the headline as read the copy – I can’t stress this enough. It’s that important.
  • The best headlines:
    1. promise the reader a benefit
    2. contain news:
      • new product
      • new ways to use your product
      • don’t bury news in your body copy
  • Offer the reader helpful information
  • Include your brand name in the headline
  • Put a word in the headline that flags your niche market
  • Generally, longer headlines – e.g. 10 words – sell more than short headlines but both types are good
  • Are specific; not general, e.g. 47.7%


  • Putting headlines in quotes can increase readership
  • Including the name of a city in your headline makes it more interesting to those who live there
  • Don’t try to be clever. Writing tricky headlines with double meanings can confuse the reader
  • Your headline should telegraph what you want to say
  • Make sure you say what you mean. If you don’t say what the product or service is or does, this could reduce your readership by 20%

5. Keep your copy simple and to the point. Elaborate on the benefits, keep it direct and concise.

6. Tell your prospects what you want them to do. Tell them exactly how to order your service or product. Don’t expect them to figure it out. Make it so simple even a child would understand.

7. One last thing: When writing the copy, make sure to decide what its purpose is and make sure it meets that purpose. Don’t go off on a tangent and start writing something completely unrelated.


P.S. New to copywriting? I suggest John Carlton’s program. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but it’s all you’ll need to get good – John Carlton’s Simple Writing System

P.P.S. Already writing decent quality copy, but want to get better? Then get your hands on everything by Drayton Bird. It’ll change the way you write copy for the better – All Products by Drayton Bird



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