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Copywriting: The Foundation of All Great Advertising

Since most dealers I work with seem to like to be involved with the scripted copy in their advertisements, or even handle it completely, I thought I’d give you my observations on what makes for great copywriting. Copywriting is the foundation of all great advertising. Great copywriting can be seen and heard in all forms of media. An original concept can fall flat on its face without good, well-constructed copy. I write mainly for television in my day-to-day business, but I see similarities in what makes good copy for radio, print, Internet and TV.

The headline is the most important aspect of any type of advertising. There are several ways to approach a headline. Most popular for me is the problem/solution headline. I deal a lot with credit, so the most prominent example is, “Have you been turned down by every dealer in town? Well, ABC Autos can help during its Credit Forgiveness Weekend Sale.” I think this approach really involves the viewer, reader or listener in the message. The ones who can relate can really relate. They say to themselves, “That’s me. I’m just like that,” or “Maybe that’s the solution for my problem.” Always write in a very personal way. Use the word “you” more than any other word in the dictionary.

I also like the guarantee headline. Lowest price guarantee is excellent. The guarantee is a promise that you must solidify with an action on your part. A low price guarantee should be backed up by a promise of, “We’ll give you $500 if we can’t beat the price of any other local dealer.” Again, involve the reader, viewer or listener. They perceive their time as very valuable and not to be wasted. Make sure they understand that you value them and are going to deliver on your promise. 

The deep discount headline can also be very effective. People love a deal. Low prices will never go away in our lifetime. You have to put the discount in perspective, though. One of the reasons I hated to see auto leasing decrease last year was because of the low monthly payments that could be advertised. It was a perception of monthly payments like no one had seen before. If you had low lease payments on any type of vehicle and didn’t use that as your headline, you missed out.

Selling the payment became popular because people could relate to a payment as part of their monthly budget. I still feel advertising $5,000 off a Tahoe is too abstract for the average, highly-conditioned American consumer to grasp. I’d promote a payment of $699 a month all day before talking about total price in conjunction with rebates and manufacturer discounts. As with all the copy points I’m discussing, this has to be 100-percent relatable to the intended audience. Does your message fit into their world and frame of reference? You must ask yourself this question at the end of every piece of copy you write.

Reasons why can also be very effective as a headline topic. Some examples of these are, “We have the best prices because we are the largest volume dealer in the area” and, “We can get anyone approved because we have bank representatives on site to help you secure loans.” Again, these are very relatable and offer a level of credibility as well.

Test your headlines and track their results. There is nothing more important than the first five words you speak or write in copy technique. So, never write the opening headline in a rush. These five words will either separate you or ensure you fall into the bland, grey mix with the rest of the auto dealers in your market.

As I always advise, choose one of the strategies and stick to it. Do not send mixed messages. This is the most common mistake in copywriting. Don’t write a spot that includes 19 different opening headline offers because the audience can’t process it fast enough. Stick to one headline, then reinforce it.

Additionally, I believe you should close with a call to action. I may differ in this belief from some marketers, but I believe it makes sense to ask the viewer, listener or reader to do something if the message hits them the right way. They either need to call to pre-register for an event at your dealership or log onto the Web site to print out a coupon for a free oil change with a test drive. Whatever it is, just ask them to do something. I feel the call to action is so critical to good ad copywriting, and most people ignore it almost completely. I urge you not to. If you look at the trend in advertising, especially television, everything is leaning towards direct-response calls to action. It’s almost startling. Consumers respond well to calls to action. It is becoming part of the general advertising landscape. Please take note and incorporate this element into your copywriting and marketing.

When crafting your next radio, television or newspaper advertisement, pay close attention to your headline and singular message, and then create a call to action that will allow you to measure results. When implementing your strategies, relate to your reader, viewer or listener, and always write in a very warm and inviting way. As much as you try to be targeted in the media you purchase, put that much effort into your copywriting.

Vol 6, Issue 2



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