Nathanael Green's Blog

An advertising copywriter, novelist, and freelance writer's brain goo.

5 Questions For Writing Better Promotions

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Whether you’re working on web copy, a direct mailer, ads or email marketing, taking a minute to answer a few questions before you write will go a long way to sharpening your promotion.

Here are a few key things to consider before writing any promotion:

1.    What’s the point?

Too often people begin writing a promotion and their only direction is “We need an ad.” They don’t think much about what they want that ad to say. Or they think it has to say everything and they try to say too much. And in both cases, it ends up saying nothing much at all.

Pretend you’re telling a friend about the piece you’re working on and he asks, “What’s the point? Sum up what you’re trying to say in one sentence.”

Mac does a great job of this with the Mac/PC ads – there’s usually one key message in each ad.

2.    What are my goals?

You decided what you want to say. Now why do you want to say it?

A specific goal for any promotion will help you craft it to reach that goal. Plus, it’ll help you track how effective your marketing is.

And while the end-goal may be to make more sales, there are so many mini-goals that will influence your writing. Some pieces are to reinforce the brand’s recognition or emotional feel (think about the iPod silhouette commercials). Other promotions try to get you to buy RIGHT NOW (infomercials, anyone?). Maybe you want to drive people to your website. Or you want to establish a no-pressure relationship with a potential client.

Decide why you need this piece, and tailor it to that goal.

3.    What medium am I writing in?

Is this an email? A billboard? Direct mail? Each needs a different touch. And you can boil it down even further: writing for an HTML email like the coupon emails you get from Barnes and Noble, is different than a personalized pitch.

Knowing what medium you’re working in helps tailor your words. Also, it’ll make you consider the next question.

4.    Who’s my audience?

It’s not just people on your email list.

Knowing your audience means you can choose your tone and words more carefully. Is your audience in the know about the industry’s technical jargon? Do you need to hand-hold them to explain the benefits of your product? What makes them particularly qualified to buy what you’re selling?

Think about who’ll read what you’ve written – what’s the best way to communicate with them?

5.    Why do they care?

This is the topic of a previous post, but it bears repeating. You’ve identified who’s ideally going to read your promotion, right? Now consider why they care. What about your product will get them to do what you want them to do?

Translate whatever you’re saying into a benefit for your readers. It saves them money, it makes them more attractive … whatever it is, don’t make them figure it out on their own. Show them the benefit. And to do that, you need to know why they care.
Answering these questions only takes a few minutes, and trust me, it’s well worth your time. Knowing the answers will help you craft compelling copy that will go a long way to improving your marketing writing.

Written by Nathanael Green

April 8, 2009 at 7:25 am

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