By Jeffrey Hedquist
It’s no secret that studying the masters will improve your ad writing, but be careful.
Many musicians learned cover tunes of their favorite artists, then did their own arrangements of other people’s songs, and finally progressed to writing their own music.
Direct marketing pros almost always say, “Copy the top experts’ ads word for word, over & over – in longhand – to get into the mindset of the most successful writers.” Then improve the ad, or write your own. Good advice but…
Here’s a common mistake:
Beginning copywriters will often simply copy a successful commercial, changing a few words in the opening line, rewriting the body and adapting it to their client’s offer. The result is a bad imitation, or a parody, and not a successful ad.
It’s better to study that spot or campaign, immerse yourself in it, and then write the NEXT commercial in the series. Extend the offer. Create a sequel.
The dictionary says a “sequel” is “A literary work complete in itself but continuing the narrative of an earlier work.”
You’re continuing the original narrative, adding chapters to an evolving story, extending a campaign.
Does what you’ve written have the same feel, mood, attitude, selling ability as the original? Each master you study, each campaign you absorb will have a different style. As you learn to write in different styles, you will begin to develop your own.
You’ll soon discover you’re not copying, you’re writing. You’re also developing your skill at creating campaigns, instead of single spots.
If you aren’t happy with your first results, repeat the process. Listen to the commercials again, set them aside and write your “sequel” again.
Keep listening for more successful commercials offering similar products or services to those of your clients, and add sequels to them.
As your “sequels” improve, so will your success at getting results.
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