3 Copywriting Tips to Boost Ad-performance

If they helped Ogilvy and me—they’ll help you too.

17 January 2020
By : Jeffrey Reichel

How many times have you seen headlines like these?

• “Start your own business the easy way.”
• “These 3 copywriting tips will rocket your sales!”
• “5 ways to 10x your copy’s performance.”

We’ve all read those articles that bait you in with too-good-to-be-true claims. But, how many of those articles, blogs, or e-books can you recall actually making a significant improvement to your life or profession? Even better, how many actually provided a blueprint to attain the BIG CLAIM that was stated in the title? I’m going to make an outlandish guess and say zero. Zilch. Nada.

man with black hat clapping the word best pm3 agency blog

You see, I’ve found a correlation between the rampant rise of the internet and the “experts” found within. As the internet expands and increases its offerings each year, so do the number of “aficionados” among any given field. No different than heated political rants on Facebook, many people appear to be masters of their category and even have the bravado to back it up. Unfortunately, a concerning portion of these ill-equipped experts are getting by on gusto and don’t have much real knowledge to share.

As a copywriter, I see these self-proclaimed, allegedly successful copy-gurus making bold promises every day. Granted, some are legit. However, a good portion of them merely stumble across a Lamborghini in their gym parking lot, snap a few selfies to show their prowess, and claim “they’ve made it.” After all, it’s easier to appear as a master, instead of actually doing the hard work it takes to become one.

So, in spite of all the online wisdom and life-changing copy advice out there, I’m going to provide some real copywriting tips that are proven to boost your ad performance. For the sake of humility, I must divulge that I don’t consider myself a master of copywriting. However, the advice I’m about to share has helped me successfully write ad copy for a living and is proven effective by true masters of the past and present. Heck, you can even apply these learnings to virtually any form of sales and they’ll still boost your conversions. Let’s hop into it!


Motivation is Everything

Did you know it’s impossible to motivate someone? Any motivations we have are already inside of us. Think about it. If I promised you $1000 to eat a delicious slice of pizza, would you do it? Assuming there was no weird catch, of course you would eat it and take the money. But that doesn’t prove me to be your core motivation. Even if you weren’t in the mood for pizza, you would still eat a slice because most of us appreciate an extra grand in our bank account. Now, think about it. Am I the reason you’re eating the pizza? No. Your desire for increased wealth is the reason.

Everyone has a plethora of different desires. As a copywriter for marketing and advertising, my objective is to find those wants and position them around a product to make it irresistible to my target market. That’s only possible if I identify my target’s different motivating factors, and most importantly, explain how the product or service will fulfill a specific desire.

Mind you, it must be done in a well written approach, infused with tact. A copywriter can possess every hard-hitting insight in the world regarding a specific group of consumers but will still come up empty handed if they don’t address and align their product’s messaging with a specific motivation. Moral of the story, you can sell anything by appealing to specific desires; you just have to explain how whatever your selling will fulfill that aspiration. This leads me to my next tip.



You can sell anything if you appeal to specific desires.

hand holding fresh apple pm3 agency blog

What are we actually selling?

When I first began writing copy to sell products and services, I was inclined to use the most grandiose words in my ad copy. Ironically, I was trying to establish myself no differently than the ill-equipped gurus we see today. Needless to say, I quickly received my first lesson on pride, because my ads underperformed magnificently. That didn’t sit well with me, so I did some digging. I soon learned that I was too focused on the dictionary-dependent words, which made me overlook the most important part of the ad: What am I actually selling?

Contrary to popular belief, writing a killer ad isn’t just about using slick words. It’s about the overall message. That’s why despite flexing my highfalutin vocabulary and hamming up product descriptions, my ad-performance still fell flat. Don’t get me wrong, big words can get the job done if that’s how your audience talks, but if you fail to identify what you’re actually selling – you can bank on your ads blowing it.

“In the factory we make cosmetics. In the store we sell hope.”
–Charles Revson

This one, simple question should become your primary mantra before you attempt to sell anything else. Whether you’re selling face-to-face or writing an ad, sales happen when you appeal to desires. Take Ray Jacuzzi for example. He was trying to sell hot tubs to clinics and wellness centers for a good while but was getting nowhere. Determined, he asked himself, “What am I actually selling?” and that’s when he landed on the idea of hot tubs for homes; affordable luxury. I know you’ve heard of a Jacuzzi, so clearly the question worked for him, but what about other industries.

Ford sold their cars as transportation, a message the railroad should’ve capitalized on initially, but didn’t. Recognizing that Ford owned the message of transportation, rival automakers created a new market for themselves by selling their cars as “style.” By giving their cars unique features and colors the message worked, and they were off to the races. It’s all about how you position your product and convey it to the masses. While I can’t stress this question enough, there’s still one final tip to bring everything together.

women buying at supermarkets pm3 agency blog
ads popping up on my phone pm3 agency blog

The “Yeah, sure” technique

Now that we’ve covered what it takes to make a successful ad—we need to actually write it! This is where the “Yeah, sure” principle can seal the deal. Do you recall the last time you were going through your inbox and thoughtlessly skipped over certain emails? Probably not, because it’s something we naturally do and there’s a reason why. Actually two. Either, the email didn’t pertain to us -or- it reeked of SPAM.

With so many ads demanding our attention every day, our brains are conditioned to only respond to the ones that provide value to us. That’s why when we see words like “New,” “Free,” or some outrageous promise like, “Eat Whatever You Want & Lose 50 lbs,” we’re immediately skeptical and move on. We’re smart… even when we’re not trying to be.

When it comes to writing a headline, subject line, or whatever, it’s vital that you apply the “Yeah, sure” test. This simple test was coined by the great Gary Bencivenga and has stood the test of time. All you have to do is read a headline and if it sounds too good to be true, then it’s a lousy headline. You can go ahead and try it on the headlines at the top of the article. Seriously, take a second and read them.

“Without belief, nobody buys.”
–Gary Bencivenga

So, how do we make a better headline? It’s simple. Use the “If, Then” technique. There’s nothing wrong with making a bold claim, but you need to provide some form of proof or mention a plausible starting point. These two aspects must be joined together at the hip of your headline, otherwise, people’s B.S. alarms will sound off and they’ll all respond, “Yeah, sure” in unison. As you noticed, the headlines at the top of this article are a bit far-fetched, so let’s see if we can revive them with this technique. The key is to pose a decently easy requirement with a strong promise. However, never make your claim bigger than your proof.


• “If you have Instagram, you can start your own business the easy way.”
• “If you know basic grammar, these 3 copywriting tips will rocket your sales.”
• “5 ways to 10x your copy’s performance proven by real data.”

As you can see, the headlines are a lot more credible and worthy of a click. Also, you can mix it up; you don’t have to adhere to the “If, Then” structure precisely. Ultimately, the goal is to provide a claim speaking to your target’s desires that’s justified by something feasible. Please know that integrity plays a big part here, so always make sure your bold statements are legit. As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, we have a unique power as marketers and should use it to contribute to the betterment of society.

That’s all folks! Feel free to A/B test with, and without these tips, and I guarantee you will see a higher return on the ads that include them. Also, if you want to see how our agency successfully advertises to the Hispanic market time after time, click here. Who knows, you might just learn something new!


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