I’ve written my fair share of ads in the last year or two.

We’ve done huge 330k piece mailers, taken out full-page ads in local papers and magazines, and run several successful Facebook/Instagram ad campaigns. So what I’m about to tell you is real-world road-rulz truth.

When you’re spending that kind of money, even on the lesser evil of the social ad, you need to make sure that what you put out there is going to be successful.

Now, there are two types of writers out there: Those who like to write and then have designers work around their words, and those who like designers to create a space for them to fill and then they work to get the right words in that space.

I’m the latter. Give me parameters and I’ll fill it. Whichever way works for you doesn’t really matter though. What really matters is that you ask the right questions before you start writing at all. 

If you want to make sure you nail the message before you waste a ton of money, make sure you know the answers to the following questions before you start.

Who is my target audience? Pick one.

Create a persona that represents the center of the bullseye. Is it for people who do or don’t go to church? Where do they live? What is their likely background? Are they married? Kids? Do they listen to Nickelback. Definitely target people who listen to Nickelback. They need Jesus.

You’re not excluding people, you’re just defining the target. Reach the target, and you’ll get credit for all the rings around it. 

What is their biggest issue I can solve? Pick one.

What are the external and internal problems your audience faces? It’s probably not “growing in Jesus” or “getting into a Bible study.” That’s what you wish they thought was their problem. Their problem is probably something more like “I have no time to get everything done” or “We live paycheck to paycheck to keep up with social status” or “we think Nickelback is good music.”

Think about the one big problem you can solve for them. They need friends, you offer community. They have spiritual questions, you won’t be judgy. They are struggling to parent, you offer parenting courses. Whatever the problem is, define it and pick one to go with.

How do I solve it? Pick one solution.

I kinda already said this, but don’t make the solution difficult. Pick one solution and tell them about it. Parenting classes may be all they are interested in, so don’t offer a solution that is parenting, membership, baptism, and connect class. That’s kinda like “hi, my name is Seth. Would you like to get married?”

What do I want them to do next? Pick one step.

The call to action is the toughest thing to decide on. Sometimes, the best call to action ISN’T come to a service. I said it ISN’T. I’ll let you hang on that for a second.

Sometimes, the best call to action for a mailer/print ad is to go to a website or email this email or text 777777 to 777777 to learn more. Get with the digital program, church. Asking me to come to your church off an ad can sometimes feel like an early proposal.

For social ads, this makes a lot of sense. But what if the call to action isn’t a website there either? What if all you really want them to do is watch the video? Read the blog? Send us a message and ask a question?

You don’t have to swing for the fences every time. Just decide what you want to do, pick one action step, and go with it.

When you understand that this is really all you need to know to write ad copy, you’ll find a basic framework for doing what Jesus did in person all the time: meet people where they are and talk to them in a familiar way. It’s disarming, it’s charming, it’s powerful, and it’s godly.

And stop encouraging this Nickelback business.


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