Right place, right time: Tailoring your copy for the situation

May 30, 2018 | By | Reply More

There’s a lot to be said for copy that’s in the right place at the right time.

I was reminded of this recently when out on the field behind our house walking Pablo.

Having done his business in the usual spot, I headed over to the dog waste bin to deposit it.

On the side of the bin, a plucky local entrepreneur had attached some renegade advertising.

It looked like this:

Talk about targeted advertising.

Attached to a bin for dog waste is the last place most people would want to place an advert for their business, but for a dog grooming company called ‘Mucky Mutts’, it makes perfect sense.

Each day dozens of qualified prospects walking their dog along the route will engage with this piece of copy…specifically dog owners who very likely have with them a mucky mutt.

Personally I would have liked to see some more effort with the copy itself.

Having picked the perfect position for their advert, it’s a wasted opportunity not to play with the situation.

Something along the lines of:

“Fed up of cleaning up after your dog? Why not let us do it!”

That would have taken this advert to another level and engaged me that bit further.

But the key here is the positioning relative to my situation and I got to thinking about how you can emulate that with your copywriting.

The reason this ad is well placed is because the idea of dirty dogs is already in the mind of the prospect.

They are likely depositing their dog’s dirty waste in the bin. So, a message about dirty dogs is ideal.

All common sense so far.

But there are two things going on here:

The positioning of the advert and the situation the prospect is in.

Obviously, on the marketing side, you can spend a lot of money on where you place your ads and control the position.

If you’re running an ad in a property supplement, you sure as hell want to make sure the copy relates to property in some way.

But what if you can’t specifically control the positioning side of the equation?

Is there still an advantage to be had here?

I think so.

As a copywriter, you’re probably not looped in too much as to where the ad is being placed, so it’s impossible, or at least, not time-effective to always write to positional specifications.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still tap into the situational specificity.

The difference here is moving away from the position of the ad to the situation of the reader.

Whatever you’re selling, there’s usually always a way to bring out an element of the message that relates to a situation that is present in the reader’s mind.

For example, we all know that Trump is pretty much consistently in the news these days. He opens his mouth and you can be pretty sure some headline-grabbing madness will spew forth.

So we know a lot of our readers will be in a situation where they have just been reading about Donald Trump.

They’ll have maybe just been reading in the paper, or have just seen something online or on the TV and then they turn back to their laptop and see an email where your copy is positioned.

We know that if they see an advert related to what they’ve just been reading about, it could have a more arresting affect on them.

To take advantage of this situational possibility, you can find a way to bring Trump into your advert.

In the interest of showing how universally this could be adapted, let’s stick with the same product: a dog grooming service.

On first flush you might wonder how on earth you’d relate a dog grooming service to Donald Trump.

But, off the top of my head, let’s say we’ve got a well-worked image of a dog urinating up a wall and Trump looking angry and shouting, “you’ll pay for that wall.” Below that you have some copy explaining how this dirty dog could get you in trouble, so you should get him cleaned and so on and so forth.

It’s a crude example, but you get my point.

Though we aren’t able to control the position of the advert in this case, we can speak in a small part to the situation the reader is in by relating to a topic that is at the top of their mind at that point.

And of course, if you can do this whilst controlling the positioning of the advert too…your copy is going to be even stronger.

Something to think about next time you’re in need of some inspiration for new adverts you need to write around a product or service and you’ve exhausted the obvious.

P.S. Don’t forget, if you’d like to join me for an exclusive Q&A webinar later this year, all you need to do is sponsor Ruth and me for the charity run we’re doing. It’s an ethical bribe, as they say. We’re 76% of the way there to raising our total, so every little helps.

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Category: Technicals

About the Author ()

Glenn Fisher was born in Grimsby in 1981. After a number of years working in the local council, he left to become a copywriter and founded AllGoodCopy.com, a free online resource for direct response copywriters and marketers. For over a decade he worked with The Agora, a multi-million pound international financial publisher and in 2018, having helped launch and grow Agora Financial in the UK, he left to write copy on a freelance basis, focus on coaching aspiring copywriters and publish his first book, The Art of the Click. He now lives happily with his partner Ruth and dog Pablo on the east coast of England.

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