Here at Onstage, we work with performing arts organizations, venues, and program book advertisers every day. We understand that as business owners, entrepreneurs and Boards you have your work cut out for you. We love nothing more than bringing our advertising expertise to you! We can take the stress of copywriting, layout and design off your plate.

If you love creating your own message, or if you’re just totally stumped, we’re here to point you in the right direction. Read on to learn how to write killer ad copy, and when to use it.

Horizontal vs. Vertical Advertising Campaigns

The first thing to decide is whether this copy is for a horizontal or vertical advertising campaign. What’s the difference? Horizontal advertising is a long term approach to reach a broad audience. Vertical campaigns are more intense, saturated campaigns that reach a specific audience or focus on a set amount of time.

If you don’t know which angle to take, look at your customer’s needs. Ask yourself:

  • Will my product be an impulse buy?
  • Will my customers do a lot of research before purchasing?
  • How often will my customers want this product?

Horizontal campaigns work best for products and services that aren’t impulse buys, but they are necessary when purchased. Horizontal campaigns should provide you with top of mind awareness over a long period of time. This customer will do a lot of research before making a purchase. Examples of these purchases include:

  • Tires
  • Mortgages
  • Investment services
  • Roofing services & contractors
  • Major appliances
  • Mattresses
  • Insurance products

These goods and services aren’t something a customer treats themselves to just because it’s payday. They are a commodity when needed, but not something consumers get excited about purchasing. They are requirements. Use horizontal copy all year long.

Vertical campaigns work best for the purchases a customer gets excited about making. These can be personal splurges, impulse buys or planned buys, but the customer does much less research. Consider:

  • Back to school items
  • Seasonal clothing (coats, boots, swimsuits)
  • Holiday/gift purchases
  • Food & restaurant visits
  • Personal services like spa treatments

The difference in these campaigns determines the copy you’ll write. Some businesses use both types of campaigns during the year. Use vertical copy for short, specific periods and blitzes.

  • Vertical campaigns need intense, driving copy like “Memorial Day Used Auto Sale Save 30% on Used Cars This Weekend Only!”
  • Horizontal campaigns need copy that encourages consumers to involve your product in their research like “Use Our Online Research Tool To Buy Auto Insurance.”

Now brainstorm some ideas and draft your copy. Write a lot! It’s better to pare copy down than to fluff it up. And you’ll need to pare it down because you must!

Be Concise!

Consumers today are continually bombarded with marketing. Humor is great. Logos are a necessity. But you must never overwhelm your audience with too much information. Write some ad copy and then remove all the information customers won’t care about.

Examples of useless copy:

  • How many years you’ve been in service (unless you’re celebrating a milestone and offering a discount like 20% off for our 20th anniversary)
  • Tiny price discounts like 5% for seniors or veterans, almost everyone offers these.
  • Long, drawn-out business names like Hammer, Hammer, Smith, Schmidt, and Sons. Make it HHSS&S.
  • Long, vague mission statements: “We are a customer service oriented company that focuses on your needs.” Most businesses can say that.

Avoid Lists!

Imagine you’re writing copy for a grocery store. Most consumers know exactly what a grocery store is for. It would be a horrible waste of ad space to say “Our grocery store stocks meats, dairy, pasta and has a deli.” People know this and will mentally tune out your information.

Lists are anti-advertising! They make you forgettable!

You’re much better off focusing on something unique about your business. We’re experiencing a great economy right now, customers are choosing businesses that make them feel good about their purchase. They are willing to pay top dollar if the purchase helps their community or the environment.

Using our grocery store example again, ask yourself: Does the grocery store support the local high school football team? Do you hire more employees and support more families than other businesses in your neighborhood? Do you offer scholarships to your part-time employees? Do you offer environmentally friendly grocery choices? These statements make an impact.

Onstage is Your Ad Copy Expert 

Part of our service for advertisers is helping you to layout effective advertising that engages an educated, wealthy audience. Our business is helping your business succeed! Would you like to learn more about copy that will connect you to an affluent target market? That is our mission. Contact Onstage today!

Related Reading & Resources:

Fabrik: Planning A Horizontal Marketing Campaign

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