Timeless Marketing Truth: How Do You Know Your Advertising Copywriting Is Good?

There’s only one way to know if your advertising copy is any good. It’s the same way that your customer knows it—it sells!

We are not all born copywriters, but we are all born customers. As a natural born customer, you can recognize good copy…

Step outside yourself and read the copy fresh: does it reach out and connect with you, does it hold your interest, does it promise something real that you really want, does it convince you?

“It has been said that advertising space without good copy is like the wooden Indian in
front of a cigar store:  It locates the store but it doesn’t say anything.” Thus began an article about advertising copy written in the year the Titanic went down. What else did this sage of sales have to say in 1912?

“Good advertising copy does three things: 
         First:    Attracts attention. 
         Second:  Interests the reader. 
         Third:   Convinces the reader.
“The first mission of an advertisement… is to attract attention.  The attention of the reader may be secured by pictures, trade marks, striking headlines… Copy must be terse, clear cut, and to the point. It must consist of short, crisp sentences. Long words should be avoided where possible.  This is a busy world.  Few people have time for long-winded descriptions and explanations.” (Churchill, for one, agrees: “Short words are best, and the old words when short are best of all.”)

Then and now, you know if the copy pulls you in. Even if it’s your product—even if it’s your copy—you know. Now for gaining and keeping interest…

“To make your advertising interesting, you must not only set forth the merits and quality of the article advertised, but you must make clear how it will benefit the purchaser. For example, if you are advertising a moving picture machine for use in the home… Point out the great benefit to be derived from the ownership of such a machine. 

“Tell how it will entertain the whole family and their friends both young and old.  How it will help to keep the boys at home in the evenings… In selling an automobile the important thing to advertise is… the pleasure that the car affords; the joy and healthfulness of riding through the country… how it makes it convenient to call on distant friends, etc. etc.

“To tell what the article advertised will do for the purchaser in the way of entertainment, education, comfort, convenience, etc., is really of more importance than the thing itself.”

These words may have been written over 100 years ago but it’s hard to express it any better today, which is why you’re reading them here.

Next, the bottom line—convincing the reader. That bottom line is right where it has been all along, because it is not drawn in the sand of fashion; it has nothing (and everything) to do with hemlines and bumpers. The bottom line is drawn in the unchanging human heart.

“A salesman must first sell to himself before he can sell it to others… The advertisement that brings the best results is the one that is written by the man who honestly believes in the goods that he is selling.”

Does that conviction come through? You’ll know when it does, because it’s more contagious than influenza. Ted Nicholas, “The Guru of Direct Mail Marketing,” is as savvy today as the wise man of 1912. “Certain words produce amazing results, as if by magic. All you desire in life, including everlasting wealth, can be yours depending on the words with which you express yourself.  As with all the great truths, once known, they seem so simple.”

There’s an old saying, “Be your own best customer.” That’s all the more true when it comes to judging your advertising.