How to write an advertorial

I’ve been editing a few supplements carrying advertorials recently – I did some for the New Statesman last year, you can click here to see an example (the ones with the green flashes on the top are the advertorials). I’m delighted to say that most of the writers “get it” – just a couple don’t. Here’s the secret.

An advertorial is an opportunity for the client to put their message out there and generally hint at how wonderful they are. Roll up, roll up, come and see we’re terrific. And the best ones…do no such thing. Instead, they address an issue, they provoke some thought and barely mention the brand. To inexperienced marketers and PR people this seems baffling. So why does it work?

Writing for readers

The thing is, you might think your organisation or client is excellent. You might think that paying an outlet for an advertorial is a superb opportunity to shout this from the proverbial rooftops. That’s understandable. The problem is that so far this is all about what’s interesting to you. Should you really be writing for yourself, though?

I’d suggest you shouldn’t. Writing for the reader is a much better idea. A single paragraph of puffery and they’ll stop reading. Arrest their attention with something relevant to their lives or work and they’ll continue. Of course they might not be inspired to go and buy your stuff or to start working with you immediately but that’s not how the medium works.

If you want rapid impact and someone to start buying from you immediately, you should probably look at involving yourself in a straight advertisement. Advertorials are a slower burn. Readers will be resistant to them because they know they’ve been paid for, so you need to establish credentials and make points even more effectively than you would in the case of independent editorial. Once you’re over the resistance, though, you can establish that you’re a real authority in your field, and become a trusted resource of knowledge.

That’s when the magic starts to happen. People who want to know something about your area start to think about you before the competition because you’ve already offered so much. It’s all about putting the reader first and forgetting the “advertorial” label – just write a really good piece.

Longer term, it’ll deliver far better results.

Do you need help with your business writing? I can help – call me on 07973 278780 and we’ll talk.

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