Write Ads That Sell

Posted on Jul 30, 2009 by Kerry O'Malley

If you want to create ad copy that sells, start thinking about emotions.  I know, I know – I’ve said before than an engineer can smell marketing “hype” a mile away – but if it’s done correctly, you can even have an engineer feeling a sense of urgency (and action) about your products or services.

Experiment with your ads.  Instead of always designing a straight forward, literal presentation of your products or services, consider an ad concept that taps into one of the following emotions:

  1. Fear of Loss: Nothing is more powerful than the fear of loss. Don’t you work hard to keep the things dearest to you?  In the industrial market, that could be, “What does down time REALLY cost your company?”, “Do safety violations keep you awake at night?”, “How much time is lost in your company because of faulty __________ “, (fill in the blank) and so on, and so on.  Stirring up the potential for loss is a quick way to get prospects to take notice.
  2. Scarcity: Similar to the fear of loss is the fear of not being able to get what you need.  This is a tricky one to pull off in the industrial world, but it can be done.  Do you have a product that is truly revolutionary and stand alone?  Try playing on the demand for its uniqueness and the fact that production is limited.  Another tactic is to make a “limited time” offer. The promise of scarcity drives action among prospects and creates a sense of urgency. People don’t like missing out on a ‘free’ or special price offered for a short period of time.
  3. Comfort: People like to make sound decisions. There’s a certain comfort in knowing that the purchase you’re about to make has already been made by others who have been satisfied with their purchase.  To make individuals comfortable before they buy, testimonials are often used.  Some of the most powerful ads include believable and complimentary testimonials from actual customers.
  4. Validation: When you’re faced with a situation or find yourself in an area that’s slightly uncomfortable, you tend to seek out validation from a third party. This may come from someone who’s more experienced, more senior, or from someone who you respect. This is why you see celebrities pushing products every day. Through association, marketers build trust and confidence in their products.

Of course you don’t see athletes endorsing industrial products, but industrial marketers can still use real customers with impressive credentials who are willing to say that your product or service delivers what it promises.  You can also use an expert in a testing community commonly used for your product if you have impressive test results.

Evoking an individual emotion can be accomplished through various means- effective headlines, pictures, and especially compelling copy. Before putting pen to paper, think about the emotion that can generate the greatest sense of urgency among your prospects for your product or service.  Keep the focus on that emotion and reinforce it throughout the ad.  Of course, you also have to focus on the solution your company provides that supports a positive outcome.

Author: Kerry O'Malley


Marketects was founded in 1999 by Kerry O’Malley, a proven marketing communications professional in international, manufacturing companies. Working on the “other side of the desk,” she hired ad agencies to manage her employers’ advertising and P/R programs. Frustrated over the lack of attention and level of enthusiasm she was looking for in the marketing agencies she worked with, Kerry realized that there was a definite need for a full-service marketing firm that specialized in working with industrial companies. She resolved that her clients would always receive the highest level of service possible and never feel like the last kid chosen for the team.

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