I love ads. Good advertisements not only make us want to buy products, but they also are entertaining and an art form of sorts. It seems trendy to poke fun at those who want to “only watch the ads” during the Super Bowl, but those viewers make a good point. It is the one night the U.S. actually openly celebrates and critiques one of its most popular (and expensive) art forms.
Ads tell stories in constrained environments – be it a page in a magazine or a 30-second TV spot. Advertising is a complementary component to public relations, both of which are distinct marketing and communications disciplines. However, the best ads embody the same goals as effective business writing – hold a user’s attention and make a lasting impression that, ideally, prompts action.
Elements of success for both mediums include:
- Identify a high-value audience. You want your ad or your written content (maybe an educational byline article) to reach those viewers/readers in a position to contact you for business or refer others to you.
- Have a clearly defined concept and execute it. Group-think and group-assemblage of content can be a killer, producing a Frankenstein of sorts that leaves the viewer/reader unsure of the central point and without a readily discernable, or alluded to, prompt for action.
- Create appealing content. Good writing always stands apart. Language can be elevated to an art form, rather than technical and dry. Persuasive writing and advertisements make an impression. Although only sometimes appropriate in business-to-business writing, the comedy showcased in mediums, such as TV ads, is so powerful that the broadcast of one spot can virally spur the retransmission of content to millions more via the Internet.
- Understand your constraints. Every medium and every outlet has a set of parameters to which contributors must adhere when publishing content (or an ad). In addition to following the “rules of the road,” known as author guidelines with respect to contributed content, avoid trying to shoehorn in material that clearly needs more space to unfold effectively.
The goal for professional services companies when writing is to create content that isn’t akin to the milquetoast ads cruised right by on the DVR. The goal is to write persuasively and efficiently, informing the reader and holding their attention. Writing shouldn’t feel like assembling IKEA furniture, following the instructions and wedging pre-fabricated components together. Instead, even for seemingly mundane topics, there needs to a passion to the process, more like taking raw materials out to your workshop and building from a vision in your mind. The point is, be memorable. Putting in effort to content creation is worth the (often billable) time.