Running copy in print ads: this is still the way to go

Last week, I redid an ad for an old client, whom I hadn’t done work for in over ten years. This was the first ad done for him in 12 years. (How I reconnected with the client, is a story by itself.) The gist of the thing is that the client wanted the text changed from running copy to point form.

I did the alterations as he wanted and when I saw him a few days later, I explained why I use prose, or running copy in the body of all my ads.

Well, let’s face it, when you read a newspaper, a book, a blog, or other stuff, you will find that the text is usually in prose, as running copy. That’s how you learned to read and that’s how things have been set out from eons back.

So, we are used to reading things in that way.

Now, I must admit a few things:
  • we are bombarded by hundreds of messages everyday
  • we are all busy, so reading copy, especially long copy may be hard to undertake because of lack of time
  • most of my clients are engineers and they like stuff set out in point form
  • some people tend to think in that way and want to see text set out similarly.

However, let me posit a rationale for running prose.

Other than the fact we are used to reading stuff set this way, running prose allows the writer to do a few things:

  • present his story, as just that a story, a narrative
  • a narrative allows the writer to build up a case with one point building up on another
  • corollary to that is that this method of writing allows the author a means of following the AIDA principal: get Attention, build up Interest, create Desire and call to Action.

In contrast, a shopping list of points doesn’t build up interest, nor does it create desire. When you explain selling points, that build on one another, you bring up the reader’s interest, one point at a time, so that he/she gets not only more interested to know more, but then has the desire to do something (go on the internet to get more information, call the advertiser to get this information, or even better, order from the advertiser.)

Finally, a call to action is like asking for the order. You may have experienced this, as I have: a sales person give his spiel, gets your interest, builds up your buying temperature and leaves without asking for the order.

That would have a been a wasted exercise. When I write ads, I usually ask the reader to ask for more information. This way a reader, who has been piqued with interest, will call up and talk to someone in the advertiser’s office and allow the latter to follow-up with a personal call, other phone call, quotation or whatever.

And, to finish my story on the ad I was working on. In the end, he conceded that he should follow my suggestion, as an expert in my field. (This is that quip used by advertising agency creatives, “Why buy the dog and do the barking”, right?)

I rewrote the text as a narrative, but also included some bullet points in the body copy. It was a most satisfying exercise in the end, especially since the client acceded to following my suggestion because of my experience in the field.

Hopefully, the client is happy with the result.

A call to action in a print ad is asking for the order, really
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