Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tips for Writing a Good Ad

It’s an art to be able to write an ad that resonates in the bride’s consciousness, which makes her feel like she MUST find out more about you and your music. I’m not an advertising executive, so I’ll just offer a few points that have worked well for me over the years.

1. What’s the purpose of your ad? Of course, you are introducing yourself to brides. You are also telling them why they should consider hiring you—you are explaining your special benefits to them. This  harkens back to your brochure design, (see previous post) but unless you are advertising on the Internet, you will have very limited space to work with. Boil your advertising copy down to exactly what you want to convey. Be brief and avoid hype. Your print ad is not a late-night infomercial.

2. Write your copy so that a kid can understand it. If you have any children who are at least ten years old, run your rough draft by them. It’s a brilliant way to test your copy. Your ad must make sense to your readers, regardless of their educational level. Besides, if it’s too complex, no one will take the time to read it. Make it fun to read and your advertisement will be remembered.

This method also works for artwork—Jerry DeCrotie, the illustrator for this book, regularly shares his cartoon ideas with his kids. “Sometimes they come up with ideas I haven’t even thought about”.

3. Write a headline that stands out. The headline draws the reader into the body of your ad. Look at the headlines of the existing ads where you’ll be advertising. Then, make your ad different so it will stand out. Let your headline introduce the topic of your ad in just a few words. Be sure that the words in the headline are at that 5th grade reading level, too.

4. Leave room in the ad for a photo. Even if you are purchasing a small, business card sized ad, include a photo showing you with your instrument. Select a photo that looks great even when reduced down to a very small size. If you are not sure which photo to use, ask your graphic designer to help you select the right one.

5. Include a “ call to action”. Tell the readers how to reach you. List your phone number, email address, and web site.

A final word about print advertising: Be a proof Nazi. When you agree to purchase advertising, find out not only when copy is due, but also when you will receive a proof. Respect the deadline to submit corrections. You may have very little time to proof an ad before it goes into print, so get on it right away. In particular, proof all your copy with a fine-tooth comb, especially your contact information. Once an ad goes into print, it cannot be fixed.

Copyright © 2008 by Anne Roos, excerpt from "The Musician's Guide to Brides: How to Make Money Playing Weddings", published by Hal Leonard Books. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced in any form, without written permission, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review.

Hundreds of additional tips, are available for musicians (and all entrepreneurs) in my book, "The Musician's Guide to Brides" available wherever Hal Leonard Books are sold: music and bookstores, and through online retailers including,, Sylvia Woods Harp Center catalog, and of course, at my website at

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