Do you like advertising? I don’t mind adverts that entertain me. I accept their purpose is to try to make me part with my money but unless it really is for a product I’m interested in, there’s nothing doing!
What A Good Advert Should Be
A good advert, though, will be memorable and is a good tribute to copywriting which, when well done, really is an art form. After all the word count for adverts has to be relatively low. Too much text, especially in a print advert, will just look like clutter. This kind of writing makes flash fiction, by comparison, look like a three volume epic!
This reminds me of the one line blurb advice that is given to writers. You should be able to summarise your book in one line. (It also ties in with the “elevator pitch” where you imagine you are in a lift with a publisher or agent and you have as long as it takes to reach your floor to pitch your book to them).
A good advert then has to catch your attention, be memorable, and not drive you nuts on repeated hearing. Gimmicky advertising generally doesn’t work well for the simple reason it can’t be sustained. People tire of it quickly.
Writers and Advertising
This is something writers have to watch for when advertising their work. We need to think of creative ways of marketing so people are interested in what we have to say. They are more likely to buy our books if we can achieve that. Note I say more likely. Nothing, other than death and taxes, is guaranteed after all!
Above all, we have to ensure we’re not too pushy either. It switches people off. It can’t be just “buy my book, buy my book”. I’m always fascinated about how writers come up with their stories and that makes for good interview material. If the blurb of their book entices me as I read that interview, I may well check that book out and maybe buy it if it really takes my fancy.
Writers, when they go to book events etc., are advertising themselves and, by default, their books as well when engaging with readers, actual or potential, at these things. So we need to come across well. Again being pushy with it really doesn’t help! Be yourself. Bring books in general into conversation, usually opportunities to talk about what you write etc then arise.
Natually every writer has to decide what advertising they want to do. I focus on my website and see it as my shop window and am currently revamping this. It is somewhere readers can go to find out who I am, what I do, can sample some free flash fiction stories (I deliberately put these up every now and again), as well as finding links to where I have had work published and to my posts here on CFT.
The trick is to keep it fresh and interesting for you, then it has far more chance of being interesting to a reader and keeping that interest going for the long term.
You’ve got to think long term as a writer. You simply don’t always know where and when you’re going to be published. Success here is not guaranteed but, when it happens, your website is a good place to talk about it! And people expect writers to do that so it is not pushy advertising either.
Book launches are interesting things here. Everyone expects an author to talk about their book in the immediate period before said launch, during it, and for a while afterwards. (I’ll have more news on this front which I hope to share later on in the year as part of my yearly review for CFT. I have recently been published again in The Best of Cafelit 8 and will be again shortly in Nativity, this year’s anthology from Bridge House Publishing. You’ll note I’m practicing what I preach here. Talk about the “product” naturally as part of an overall piece on advertising!).
Benefits of Advertising
The benefits of adverts are obvious if they succeed – money to the manufacturers! But I’ve found adverts have given me some benefits, not least of which was they introduced me to classical music.
I strongly suspect if you asked most people how they discovered classical music, the two biggest ways-in to classical music would be through well remembered TV adverts or film scores. I pointed out a little while ago to someone I was talking to if you liked a Stephen Spielberg film with music, almost certainly composed by John Williams, then that counted as classical music too.
My favourite John Williams score? The Raiders March as used in Indiana Jones. John Williams’ best accomplishment? Almost certainly the score for Schlinder’s List. Scariest one? Jaws! (I must admit it’s not my favourite piece. I’m not fond of sharks though don’t want them to become extinct etc. What interested me here most was coming across a comment that John Williams had written the score for this from the point of view of the shark. Next time you hear the music, bear that in mind. I think that does come across).
I’m going to list some images and/or names. Can you remember the product which was being advertised? I’m not going to put the images up or find pictures of the people named as I suspect doing so may give the game away.
1. Little boy walking his bike up a steep hill.
2. Frank Muir.
3. Linda Bellingham.
4. A dog, a cat, and a white mouse.
5. The roadworks man.
6. Guy surfing with O Fortuna playing. This advert ran for years.
7. An Old English Sheepdog.
8. A labrador puppy.
9. Aliens on a spaceship observing Earth. Again a long running advert.
10. Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins
11. An older gentleman ringing to see if a book is in stock.
12. Maureen Lipman
13. A James Bond style action sequence ending with a delivery of this product with a card. Again a very long running advert.
Can you name the product or company for these?
1. Helps you work, rest, and play.
2. Splash it all over.
3. Central heating for kids.
4. I bet he drinks…
5. It does exactly what it says on the tin.
6. Reassuringly expensive.
7. The appliance of science.
8. Have a break…
9. It’s the real thing.
10. Put a tiger in your tank.
11. The listening bank.
12. You should have gone to….
13. Never knowingly undersold.
Now if you had little trouble in recalling those, you’ll have just demonstrated to yourself how effective those adverts were.
Three of my favourite adverts are in the above list (2, 4, 5) and they’re my favourites for the same reason. They all introduced me to different pieces of classical music I love now and when I hear the music play for each of them, I can instantly recall the advert.
I listen to Classic FM and I find, as I used to with ITV, the ad breaks are useful for putting the kettle on, so that’s okay then! Radio adverts are interesting in that they can only use music, sound effects, and words to get their message across. Again, they can’t use too many words due to time considerations. A radio advert mustn’t go on too long. People would literally switch off!
Again the best radio adverts are kept short and simple. What has been interesting is the quiz show Pointless Celebrities (now isn’t that a mot juste title if ever there was one!) sometimes has voice over artist special editions. I recognise the voices. Would never recognise the actors in the street mind you. But the voice has impact.
For a writer, of course, it has to be our words, fictional or otherwise, that have impact. And that’s the very best advertising for our work too.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
Never miss out on another blog post. Subscribe here:
Subscribe to Blog via Email