Writing for print is not easy. You have a little bit of space, less time and some competition. Your writing has to capture attention, communicate your message and inspire an action. So… How do you write for print?
As always, start by understanding who you are talking to.
You are speaking to one person. It may sound contradictory because your flyers, posters, brochures or banners are received and seen by many; but in the moment when someone read your copy, you are speaking to that reader. Remember to write for that reader and to know who they are.
Know what style resonates with them, the language they’re familiar with, what interests them and what problem they wish to solve. Speaking in a manner that resonates with them makes your message easier to understand and recall.
You can only communicate one message
Yes, you have a suite of benefits and special features that are worth noting. However, you do not have a lot of time and space to say it all. Your media is far more effective if you find the one message that answers the question “why should I care?”.
This is usually your unique selling proposition (USP). It’s the one thing people must know about you. In some cases, it is referred to as the elevator pitch, i.e. in the short time of an elevator ride, what is the one thing you would tell a potential customer or investor about your business?
Don’t forget, once your reader knows why they should care, tell them what they should do next. This is known as the call to action (CTA).
Take the time to write a strong headline
The headline is where you can place your USP. This is your hardest worker when it comes to writing for print. A good headline inspires the reader to read more and sometimes, it’s all you need.
You can include a complementary subheading
This can either act as the punchline to a heading, it can expand on what you said in the heading or it can be your CTA.
Be clear with your body copy
An easy test is to read your copy from your reader’s point of view and ask yourself if your message is clear.
Remember, you are trying to sell your product or service. Use copy that will generate interest.
In your research on who your audience is, you will find what interests them. Wrap your product or service in that interest. If you encourage an emotional reaction in your reader, then they will remember what you write.
Lastly, if you are forced to write a lot of information then structure it in a way that is easy to digest. Bullet boints and a concise checklist go a long way.
[Related: Is your typography print ready?]
Other important considerations:
Hire a professional if possible.
Services like Fiverr can help you find an affordable copywriter. Just make sure you check their previous work.
Don’t forget about the internet
You reader will read your ad and look for you online. Ensure your copy uses keywords that they can use to find you.
They will want to type your URL. Use vanity URLs if your normal web address is hard to remember or complicated to type.
Your online ads might reach the same reader. Keep a consistent message and tone across all your print material and online material. Keeping creative, copy, tone and message consistent will positively influence brand recognition.
It’s a mobile world. Make sure your landing pages are mobile friendly.
Test and measure
It might feel like great copy to you, but the best way to prove that is to test various options.
You can test by using different coupon codes or URLs per variable. E.g. If you have a number of headlines that might work then try them all while changing the coupon code or URL for each version. Whichever coupon code or URL gets the most use will tell you your most effective headline.
- Design and Copywriting for Effective Print Advertising
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- Writing for print vs. Web: 5 tips for catalogue copywriters
- How to Write Effective Print Ads
- 6 Absolute Rules of Effective Print Ads
- Five Effective Print Ads and Why They Worked
- A printer’s tips on flyer design, printing, and distribution
- Is your typography print ready?
- Integrating print and online marketing – tools, tips and tactics