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3 Keys to Creating Ads That Sell

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A successful advertisement has three key components: Target, Offer, and Copy. When creating your ad, you need to consider how to target your ad to the people you are trying to reach, what offer will make them respond, and how to best communicate this offer to them through your copy.

Key #1: Target

The target—the person whom the advertisement is aimed at—is by far the most important component of creating a successful advertisement. In fact, it is 10 times more important than your copy.

One of the easiest ways to target your ad is to simply target those specific people with your headline. For example, if you were advertising a product that would be used by women over the age of 35, you simply place a headline which says, “Attention, women over 35.” Immediately, anyone who isn’t a woman over the age of 35 will pass over your ad (which is fine because you didn’t want them reading it anyway). For all those women who are over 35, you have immediately grabbed their attention by speaking directly to them.

Key #2: Offer

Your advertisement will fail if your offer isn’t strong enough. The offer needs to inspire people to take action. Simply saying “Present this ad for a 5% discount” will not motivate anyone. The readers of your ad are like fish; if you hook them but don’t reel them in, they swim away, free to be caught by any other fisherman. An offer claims your prospects. It gives them a reason to buy from you and to do it now.

When coming up with your offer, follow three basic guidelines:

  • Set a time limit. You need to inspire urgency. If customers know they can get it anytime, why would they bother doing anything today? Your offer should typically only last a week or until a particular date. 
  • Specify limited quantities or a specific number. For example, “We have 46 pairs of sports socks to give away before the end of the week.” Or, “The first 13 customers who put down a deposit for the new homes will receive the patio free.” 
  • Make it meaningful to the customer. If your offer isn’t generous enough, you may as well not have one.

The best offers seem incredibly generous yet have a low hard-dollar cost. For example, a top consultant who normally charges $600 an hour might offer a free 15-minute consultation. While it’s only 15 minutes to the consultant, it’s $150 value to the prospect. Another example is a restaurant that offers two free soft drinks with every meal. Hard cost: about 15 cents. Perceived value: $4.

It’s important to remember that you’re in the business of buying customers. Once you get them through the door, it’s easy to keep them for life. Think long term.

 Key #3: Copy

What is written is the least important of the three components. The best-written advertisement in the world, given a poor offer and poor targeting, cannot expect to get a response. Yet the most poorly written advertisement that has a good offer, and is very well targeted, can get a very good response.  

If you have a rock-solid offer, you can base your entire ad around it. The headline can be a quick summation of your offer and the text can explain it more in depth and offer a couple extra benefits about dealing with you. It’s a common mistake for people to spend too much time trying to work out what to put into their copy rather than just getting in there and saying what they have to say.

Advertising is about one thing and one thing only: getting people to buy your products or services. If you focus on narrowing down your target, crafting a compelling offer, and effectively communicating this offer through your copy, you will start to create ads with optimum “buy-appeal.”



Heather Yakes is an internationally recognized business coach and employee engagement expert ranking in the Top 10 in the U.S. & Top 100 worldwide. Heather is the recipient of the 2016 Business Excellence Awards Coach of the Year, the 2018 ActionMan Award for the Best Client Impact, and the 2018 Franchisee of the Year Award. She has 20+ years of experience working with Fortune 500 Companies and Big 4 Consulting.