Writing Tips at GarySpeer.com

Tips for writers and musing about writing and life

If you write ad copy, you must learn the importance of ‘pre-selling’


Writing ad copy often involves “pre-selling” rather than selling a product. Pre-selling means prompting the person your ad is aimed at to take additional action: You get them to make a phone call, to send in a coupon, to go to a website, etc.

Let’s look for a moment at a life insurance ad that runs on television often during the time of day when I watch “Leave It to Beaver” reruns on TV Land. (Yes, call it a confession if you wish.) This particular ad works with a tag line something like, “Only $7.95 a month per unit … ”

The ad itself is so smoothly written, with an aging but very famous pitchman, that when it’s over most viewers couldn’t tell you whether they had heard about whole life insurance or term life insurance. They couldn’t really tell you how much a policy would cost — nor could they tell you exactly what amount of coverage they would get for their $7.95 per month — but they probably COULD tell you that it was only going to cost them $7.95 a month, so at that price they’d be eager to call the toll-free number and find out more.

That’s good copy writing: You don’t clearly tell people exactly what the product is, nor exactly what they’d get for their money. But you DO “pre-sell” the product effectively and get readers/viewers to take action.

Writing ad copy means accomplishing one thing. You move your readers/listeners/viewers to some kind of action. If you fail to do that, you’ve failed to write good ad copy.

What do you know about ad copy writing? Are you a copy writer by profession? Of necessity? What’s the most successful ad copy writing you’ve ever done? Tell us, please.

Oh, yeah, as for that insurance commercial: If you have a DVR or if you “TiVo,” stop the commercial next time you see it and read the “fine print” near the bottom of the screen. You’ll find that “$7.95 per month per unit” isn’t explained in the commercial itself because there is no single explanation. The “unit” varies from state to state and might be as small as something around $300 or as large as something more than $1,000. And it’s term life insurance. Go figure.
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