Five Grammar-Free Rules for Better Ad Copy
With Local Copywriter Genna Shelnutt
I love a grammar rule, but you don’t have read the Chicago Manual of Style for fun in order to write effective advertising copy. Don’t believe me? Give these five grammar-free rules a shot in your next ad. (Trust me, your readers will thank you.)
- Show; don’t tell.
This classic writing rule applies as much to Fanta ads as it does to fiction novels. Don’t tell your audience the soda is refreshing. Show them how refreshing the soda is by what’s happening in the ad. This is how you elevate your message from advertising to storytelling. People may forget ads, but they always remember stories.
- No more see-say.
I love art. I especially love when the title of a piece adds something to the experience: makes you look at it differently, shifts the perspective, offers a point of view. An ad headline should follow the same principle. If your headline just reiterates what you’re showing visually, it’s called “See-Say” (seeing and saying the same thing), and it’s a no-no in copywriting. So make sure your headline does more than that.
- Brevity before beauty.
Words are beautiful, and I love them and want to use them all, always. That being said, people don’t want to read all the words all the time. When it comes to advertising, brevity and clarity are often more important than descriptive, drawn-out copy. So save the prolific prose for your personal blog.
- Pack a potent punch.
On that note, if you don’t have many words to work with, you better work with the best ones. The character John Keating in Dead Poets Society says, “Avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose.” The same goes for advertising. Pick strong words, interesting words, unusual words…words that have stopping power. And use them!
- Remove one accessory.
A friend of mine once told me that before he would leave the house as a teenager, his mom would tell him to take off one accessory from his outfit. She understood the importance of keeping a look simple, and she knew her son tended to wear everything all at once. The same is true of advertising. Before you send your ad out the door, consider what isn’t absolutely necessary…and get rid of it!
Think you could use the help of a copywriting genius? Of course you can. Let’s do the thing!
About Genna Shelnutt
Genna knew she was a writer when she wrote a poem titled “Up to the Light” in second grade. The poem was garbage, but she liked how it felt to put words on paper. In her professional career, Genna has conquered copywriting challenges for clients ranging from Patriots Point and Terminix to Southern Tide and Harry Barker—among many others. She has a knack for simplifying complicated concepts and a passion for puns. You can read Genna’s personal work at www.writeamuck.com and send her kind emails at firstname.lastname@example.org.