What can you learn about writing advertising copy from a political consultant and Republican Party strategist?
More than you might think.
This man’s 10 rules are so powerful, they pushed Rudy Giuliani to two victories as mayor of New York City—where Democratic voters outnumbered his party by a margin of 5 to 1.
Copywriting isn’t much more than a short speech that appears on paper or on a digital screen, and author Frank Luntz, Ph.D., wants you to remember that.
In his 2008 book Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear, Luntz shared what he has learned about how your chosen words can be incredibly powerful—or miss the mark and become forgotten within seconds. Here are his 10 rules:
1. Ask a Question.
Never underestimate the power of asking a question as opposed to making a statement. Remember the wildly successful “Got Milk?” campaign?
Vivid images generated by memorable words = proven formula for success. For further study, see the image below.
3. Sound and texture matter.
Do you read your ad copy out loud and listen to how it flows off your tongue and into your ears? Words in a sentence that have the same sound, cadence, or even first letter will be far more memorable to your audience.
Ever thought about what made the “I Have a Dream” speech one of the greatest of all time? Hint: Cadence didn’t hurt.
4. Use small words.
Speak the language that members of your target audience use when they speak to one another.
Bravo to you for wanting to increase your audience’s vocabulary. But if you think readers are going to sedulously look up a word they don’t understand, think again. (Confession: I don’t even know if I used that word correctly.)
5. Brief sentences are best.
As Luntz says in his book, “‘I Like Ike’ was hardly a reason to vote for the man, but the simplicity of the slogan matched the candidate and the campaign.”
6. Speak with aspiration.
Your writing must contain messages that your audience members really want to hear. It needs to be personal for them.
7. Provide perspective and explain significance.
If you don’t give consumers the “why” of a message before you write about the “therefore” and the “so that,” you may not be heard.
8. Consistency matters.
FTD has been using the slogan “Say it with flowers” since 1917.
Nearly 100 years. How’s that for consistency?
If doing so is relevant for your ad copy, pick a way of making your point and stick to it. Otherwise, when consumers finally begin to remember that point, you’ll have changed it already.
9. Credibility is as important as philosophy.
Luntz says this beautifully: “The words you use become you—and you become the words you use.”
10. Offer something new.
Does your ad copy convey a sense of discovery?
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