The difference between ho-hum advertising and a visual ad that really grabs the reader is the designer’s ability to see into the mind of the ideal demographic the ad is trying to reach. An intuitive sense of where the “hot buttons” are for the reader is a necessary part of good creative. Think for a moment about all of the advertising where the age of the models has shifted to individuals with slightly graying hair. What’s going on there? I sometimes think those ads overplay their attempt to reach out to the “boomers”, but the lesson is just as obvious – your creative needs to establish a relationship with the demographic you seek.
As you choose your graphical elements and begin to design your copy, spend time outlining your demographic. Who are you trying to reach with this ad? “Everybody” is not an answer. Even if you have a very wide demographic, how can you style the pitch? Youth? Couples? Seniors? It may be that more than one ad will be necessary in more than one media to reach all demographics. The more generic your approach the less impact your advertisement will have. If you try to reach everyone in a single ad, you stand some chance of actually reaching nobody since it will be difficult to establish a relationship without a “pitch” to a particular market segment.
Take cruising as an example. When you advertise “a cruise” do you want to advertise the cruise the same way to everyone? Do you advertise to a first time cruiser the same way you advertise to an experienced cruiser? To a young couple the same way you do to a group of seniors? What if you are advertising yourself instead of a travel product? What needs can you meet? Walk around the demographic so you can identify its key characteristics and see it as objectively and then as empathetically as possible. Next, list the benefits your company can provide that meets the needs of that demographic head-on. When you do, you will have the start for some excellent advertising copy.
Peer deeply into your target demographic. Who are they? What do they want to do? Where do they want to go? Why do they travel? In this context, think about each of the following:
- What is their age bracket;
- What is their gender;
- What is their sexual orientation (it matters!)
- What is their income bracket;
- What are their interests;
- What are their core values and beliefs.
Now, take each of these items and find graphical elements and write copy that matches the demographic profile. If you are appealing to young couples, you won’t use a picture of a grey-haired couple dancing romantically. You might use a picture of a rock wall, however.
Use short sentences and active verbs. Embed commands and directives into your copy: “Click here” is not a suggestion, it’s a command. “Call Now” – the same. Appeal to the romantic in the reader. To which persona will the demographic most likely respond: adventurer, romantic, explorer?
Writing good copy take practice, but it also takes insight. Know your product, know your target, and develop a relationship.