How to Create an Engaging Prospecting Ad: Part 1

Written by Tim Edmundson

As a business, one of the most important things you can know how to do is market your products to new customers. It can sometimes seem intimidating, in fact it can even be hard to figure out where to start. In this two part series, we’ll be walking you through the steps to create engaging and effective prospecting ads. First up, we’ll explore the ideation and copywriting portions of the ad building process.

Establish an Audience

The first thing you will need to do is establish an audience. To find and sell to your target consumer, you will need to get to know them a little better. Hopefully you already know this — but while this may sound like common sense, too many ads are somehow still finding their way to disinterested users. According to a study done by Mediapost, around 80% of consumers believe the last online ad they saw was not relevant to them. Luckily, we’ve broken down the steps you can take to make sure this kind of targeting mistake does not happen to you.

Create a Buyer Persona

The first step in establishing an audience is to develop a profile of your clients. Also called a buyer persona, this profile will allow you to categorize your target audience based on factors such as age, income, and location. You can also consider less quantifiable subjects such as your audience’s favorite activities, interests, personality and values.

There are, however, other ways to find and target this audience. SteelHouse, for example, uses technology called Dynamic Spend Optimization (DSO) that automatically adjusts your campaign’s budget to target the best audience possible, and drive the most conversions. It’s still important to have a strong brand message in your prospecting ad and follow the cardinal rules of ad copy, but using an optimization engine like DSO can allow you to balance your spend and hit all of your goals.

Define a Value Proposition

Now that you know who you want to target or you have a plan to use an algorithm to find them, you can start to focus on your ad’s message. One way to do this is by determining the specific benefit of your product. You should ask yourself questions about your competitors like, “Why is my product better than the competition?” and “What differentiates us from them?”

This is also an opportunity to use that buyer persona and apply it to your product. Ask yourself why your customer would be interested in your product, and how your product could potentially make their lives easier. Or you can explore what your customer is looking for, and how you can solve any pain points for them. Once you establish a value proposition, it can be much easier to decide on the actual copy and imagery for your prospecting ad.

Write Effective Copy

A prospecting ad is only as powerful as its ad copy. There are a few rules you can follow to make sure your ad conveys the intended message to the target audience you found out earlier.

> Have a Strong Headline | Your headline is often one of the first things your potential customer will see, and maybe the only part of the ad they will actually read! In the words of David Ogilvy, the ‘father’ of modern advertising, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” Therefore, it is especially important to have a clear and interesting headline in your prospecting ad. An example of this in the case of B2B companies is the use of numbers and statistics in their headline. B2B companies can employ this tactic to quickly and effectively convey the value of their brand, as many viewers will associate statistics with authority.

> Simplify | This rule can apply to both the copy and visuals on your ad, as those elements tend to go hand-in-hand. Follow the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid) to avoid confusing your customer and making the ad more cluttered in the limited space you have. Your ad should convey your message, then provide a prompt to action. Any more information than that can quickly diminish the efficacy of your ad.

> Use “You,” Not “We” | Writing in the second person is one of the easiest ways to connect to your customer on a personal level. This will make it easier for your customer to see themselves within your writing, and picture themselves as a potential buyer.

> Have a CTA | Having a strong Call-to-Action, or CTA, will create a sense of urgency around your ad that will encourage your potential customer to click. It can also clean up your ad space and establish a clear hierarchy, which is a must for digital ads. We will discuss CTAs further in the Ad Design portion of the series, as they can also be an important visual element within your prospecting ad.

> Avoid Weasel Words | Weasel words are phrases that allow your copy to avoid being straightforward with the reader. Examples of such phrases include ‘help,’ ‘could,’ ‘hope,’ and ‘virtually.’ While they can seem like a good way to avoid the responsibility of following through with a risky claim, they often have the unintended effect of making the targeted viewer of your ad uneasy. People learn from a young age to question vague claims and promises on the part of an advertiser, so it is much more beneficial to avoid these weasel words altogether.

> Cover Your Ass Even though it may seem obvious not to lie in your ads, it happens, whether intentionally or not. But what these advertisers forget is that if you do manage to convert customers with false claims, they will never become a loyal brand advocate. Instead, return to the value proposition you created earlier in the ad building process, and try to establish a sincere reason for your customer to purchase your product. A customer who is genuinely interested in your product is much more likely to return and become a repeat customer. “Covering-Your-Ass” can also apply to proofreading, so make sure to double, even triple check the copy of your ad to make sure there are no errors.

Create Great Prospecting Ads

Creating an effective prospecting ad is just a matter of understanding your audience and focusing your message. By following these steps, you will be well on your way to finding and converting those potential customers.

Be sure to check out the next entry of our prospecting ad blog series, where we will cover the elements of design within an engaging prospecting ad.