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The Essential Skills Every Ad Copywriter Must Have

Copywriting is an indispensable element of online marketing. Not to be confused with other inbound marketing content, such as blogging, copywriting focuses on getting people to take action. Good copywriters are very much in demand but often hard to find.

To succeed as an ad copywriter takes more than good writing skills. You must have a rich imagination, a passion for writing, and a determination to get it right. Copywriting includes creating:

  • Headlines, slogans, and catchphrases
  • Body copy for print media
  • Web advertising
  • Social media content
  • Scripts for traditional advertising

Some copywriters work in-house, but many companies find it more cost effective to work with an outside content provider.

Essential Skills of an Ad Copywriter

There are the basic writing skills all good content writers should have: proper grammar and SEO among them. But there are other skills that are less run-of-the-mill.

Social awareness.

An ad copywriter needs to have her or his finger on the pulse of what is trending in the world; otherwise, their copy will lack relevance. Stay up to date with popular culture by subscribing to multiple newsletters, following interesting blogs, and staying active on social media.


The whole point of ad copy is to get people to buy a product or service. A copywriter must create clear, persuasive and original copy that builds up to a call to action readers want to click.


Most of today’s ads forego the hard sell and concentrate on telling a story. A great story has a main character, or characters, has action or suspense, and ends in satisfactory way. For ad copywriting, that means a CTA that creates the desire and urgency in the reader to fill in a form, pick up the phone, or place an online order.

Know Your Audience

Probably the most important skill an ad copywriter must have is the ability to get inside a reader’s head. Buyer personas are a great start, but understanding the customer’s fears, desires, problems, wants, and needs is one thing. Writing great copy that speaks to those qualities is another. The key is in good research.

But, what do you research and where do you find the information you need? This goes back to being socially aware. If you want to know what copy will resonate with your readers, head to where they hang out to read. There’s a lot you can learn there: their gender, age, martial status, number of children, career, income, and location. Pay attention to what they’re talking about:

  • What TV shows or movies do they watch?
  • Do they listen to podcasts or audio books?
  • What are their musical tastes?
  • Which public figures do they admire?
  • What books or magazines do they read?

Writing copy for a B2B company? Delve into what industry they’re in and the associations they belong to.

Find out what the competition is doing by reading their websites, blogs, and social media feeds. Look at similar products on Amazon and read the reviews to see what people say they do and (especially) don’t like about them. If you do a lot of ad copywriting for one industry, think about attending trade shows and conferences or subscribing to newsletters.

The Bottom Line

If you want to be a great ad copywriter, never stop learning about what makes people tick. As Stephen King said, “You become a writer simply by reading and writing. You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.” Read everything you can – there are a lot of good books out there that will help you master the art of powerful copywriting.

In the end, good copywriting is about knowing your audience’s hopes, dreams, fears, and desires, and then reaching out with words that resonate and compel them to action. Learn the fundamentals of ad copywriting, but master the craft of persuasive storytelling if you want to connect with your readers and make the sale.

Topics: Ad Copywriter

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