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Tall Tale Five - “Size Matters - Bigger Is Better”

Small, medium or large – which one do you go with? It’s not the size of our…umm…err…advertisement that counts. It’s how you use it that really matters. This is the real truth in this little clichéd conversation.

Why all the focus on ad size? Ad size is really only valid in print advertising. There are plenty of other marketing avenues that don’t require size differentiation, right? How about radio, cable and TV advertising?

Well let us start by saying this…radio, cable and network advertising is great but it’s imperative that you have a solid strategy if you intend to compete. This is not the strategy that your local media rep plops out of the computer.

Dominate a Medium

Additionally, you must dominate one market segment and audience before you go spreading your message and ads all over the place. This practice of spreading your dollars and ads all around to multiple media outlets in small quantities is something we call “spray and pray;” it’s highly ineffective.

A little here, a little there, just marking your territory like a dog would do. But guess what? We can’t really tell where dogs mark, only dogs can. So if your target audience is dogs you are on the right track. Keep it up! If not…keep reading.

This is Where Size Comes In

This truth causes many smaller players to opt out of broadcast media such as TV or radio. You’ll quickly learn, it’s very expensive to dominate broadcast. A few bucks on the radio would be better spent at the bus stop bench, as discussed earlier.

By eliminating broadcast from the mix, we are left with marketing choices like print advertising that require us to decide: is bigger better?

Bigger is Not Always Better, Period

It’s not how big your space is that really matters. It’s what you put in it that counts. The smallest size ad on a page can have more eye appeal and garner more response than the biggest one on the page. We’ve seen it happen countless times.

Everyone generally wants a bigger ad so they can say more about their product, their business, their mission, their family, their home life and their dog…come on folks. This is getting ridiculous.

The hammer of any ad is the emotionally charged copy that elicits action and connects with an existing emotional anchor deep down inside the prospects’ minds.

An existing emotional anchor is something your client is already emotional about. As mentioned previously, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs clearly defines universal emotional anchors. There may be others that are specific to your market.

You can exponentially increase your prospects’ emotional buy-in if your copy binds them to one or more of these existing emotional anchors. This requires you to really be interested and know your prospects.

You probably have ads out there right now that are the big ones, with lots of info in them: slogans, pictures, mission, licenses, titles, insurances and tons of other useless stuff that is never effective.

These ads are like a bad jazz musician, there’s a lot of noise coming out of the horn, but they just ain’t sayin’ nothin’. This is all too often the case.

You must have realistic expectations for your ad and the copy must be fine-tuned to uncover the emotion that makes your customers buy! The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words must not have been written by an expert copy writer!

Expert copy turns any size ad into a lead generating factory. Well written words can wiggle into the brains of your potential customers and start the gravitational process that results in them orbiting your business.

So What Makes Good Copywriting?

Expert copywriters spend their entire life honing their craft and sharpening their skills. When it comes to copy writing, you either have it or you don’t.

Were you an excellent writer in high school English class? Doesn’t matter. Won a poetry contest in college? That has nothing to do with copy writing.

In school, we were given the task of writing 500 or 5000 words. Most people had an idea but had to do some serious stretching to get it to take up all the space.

Copy writing is generally the complete opposite. A 60 second radio commercial has 185 words. 30 second spots are half of that. A billboard should have no more than eight words. The charge in copy writing is to take an idea – and shrink it.

That means that every single word has to be carefully chosen and scrutinized to make it into the final version.
The skills we learned in school (expanding ideas to fit a minimum number of words) do not apply. In fact, most good prose writers are terrible copy writers.
We’ll Give You Two Tips:

Tip 1) A.I.D.A. – This is copy writing 101. Attention, interest, desire and action. It’s a formula that can help guide you through writing any copy. Some other elements to consider are proof, urgency and relatedness (how it relates to the reader or listener).

Tip 2) Hire an expert copy writer. Be careful, web designers, graphic designers and media reps are not copy writers. Copy writing is a very specific profession and a skill which very few people possess. If the ad is important, hire a copy writer. If it’s not, write it yourself or have the rep write it.