Copywriting Basics

Adapted from content excerpted from the American Express® OPEN Small Business Network

Different types of ads require different copy guidelines. An effective newspaper ad won’t necessarily work in your local Yellow Pages. Your approach in radio commercials may differ significantly from what you say in a magazine ad.

These tips are designed to help you create ads that work. Be aware that few advertising agencies focus on the needs of the entrepreneur; many are used to working with large corporate clients. Talk with your peers, call a trade group, or get in touch with a local association of artists or copywriters to find someone who is sensitive to your business. Use these tips to help you work with advertising professionals to ensure that any agency you use creates a campaign that works for you.

A newspaper, magazine, radio or TV station may offer to create your ads for you. If that happens, thank them for the offer and say “No thank you” to their help. Rarely, if ever, do they create the kinds of ads that will set you apart from your competitors.

Before you begin considering your ad campaign, do some legwork by looking through magazines, newspapers and phone books, watching TV and listening to the radio, for ads that you like and that inspire you. Once you’ve done this, analyze the ads to see what they have in common and try to emulate them in the creation of your materials.

Select from the list below to learn about what types of copy work for different media.

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