Five Tips for Big Banner Copywriting

07/06/2013  | by: Shaun Cleary

When it comes to selling, a large outdoor banner can be an effective marketing tool for any business. Once it’s printed and fixed in place, a banner can attract attention, inform people about what you’re doing, and drive people to make a purchase.

But to achieve those goals you don’t just need a banner - you need one that communicates.

An essential part of this is good copywriting. By understanding your audience, choosing a benefit that appeals to them, and clearly communicating your message, you can get the maximum return on investment from your banner.

Read on to learn five useful tips for writing copy on a big banner scale.

1. Find a Benefit to Focus On

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First, let’s ignore the idea of a banner and focus on copywriting in general. The best copy is centred on benefits, not features, and that rule applies to work on any scale.

Imagine a local gym is preparing a new promotion, which offers the first six months of membership at a 50% discount. Making flyers, mailers, and banners that say “50% off membership” would be informative, but not persuasive.

Instead, think about what’s in it for the customer. In the case of our imaginary gym, they lose weight and get healthy, at the lowest possible cost.

Before you write anything, for any medium, find a benefit. It’s this that you’ll use to create your copy.

2. Consider Your Audience

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Across any copywriting, audience is everything. However, when it comes to outdoor banners, you’re up against some unusual obstacles.

Nobody reads a newspaper to read the adverts, but at least they’re in reading mode. In the case of a banner, passers-by could be deep in conversation with a friend, listening to music on an iPod, or simply hurrying to get home from work. They could even be driving past, giving you a nanosecond to grab their attention.

As you prepare copy, keep these factors in mind. The audience for any banner is usually focusing on something else. You don’t have a lot of time to attract them.

3. Keep It Short

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One of the most common mistakes in writing copy for a banner is the tendency to cram a lot of information in. After all, you have a large canvas on which to work, giving you plenty of room for all the precise details.

But here’s the truth - most people who see a banner will glance at one or two words and your main image. It’s only if they’re convinced by these that they’ll consider reading more.

A good banner headline will usually have no more than 6-8 words, depending on the shape and format. With this in mind, most businesses can forget about complete sentences and perfect phrasing.

Returning to the example of a gym, “Get fit and lose weight - 50% off memberships for six months” would be too much. “Lose weight - 50% off” would be better, simply because it uses less words to express the same idea.

4. Keep It Simple

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Sometimes, people link a piece of writing being short with it being simple. In fact, these are two different - but equally important - criteria of a good banner.

A good tip is to forget all the details about your business, promotion, or product, and focus on one benefit alone. Put everything else aside - focus on attracting business now, and provide full details of what you do later.

Let’s go back to our fictional gym one last time. The 50% discount is making our copy a bit cold and mathematical. To make things simpler, what if we focused on losing weight while saving money, not a specific amount?

We could try: “Shed those pounds. Save your pennies.”

5. Provide Points of Contact

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Finally, as an aside to the main section of your copy, be sure to include ways for your prospects to get in contact. Even if your banner is hung outside of your premises, some people may not have time to come in and find out more.

To keep things simple, prominently include one contact method, such as a phone number, email address, or website. Give your audience one thing to remember, not a choice of ways to get in touch.

Conclusion

Although the art of copywriting is approximately the same on any scale, writing for large format print brings with it some unusual obstacles and an even more transitory audience.

However, with a careful approach, a simple style, and a little bit of creativity, you can make your banner stand out and get your message across.

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