How To Master Ad Copy: 5 Guiding Principles | Visible
April 29, 2020

How To Master Ad Copy: 5 Guiding Principles

It might seem that writing up killer ad copy is something that only a chosen few can truly master, while the rest of us are mostly at the mercy of the Muses, waiting for a good idea to strike out of nowhere. 

Fact: the most productively creative people out there use processes and guiding principles to create ads that work each time. These principles have been around for quite a while: Aristotle invented persuasive techniques 2000 years ago, which are successfully used today by advertising giants like Ogilvy.

So what exactly are these 5 guiding principles and how can you use them in your ad copy creation? Let’s have a look at each of them.

Ethos

Ethos refers to ethics and credibility, appealing to the values of the audience. It’s also the quickest way to establish trust, because it resonates with the very core of our identity. 

From an ad point of view, ethos invokes the superior character of the speaker, convincing the audience that the brand is reliable and ethical. The fastest way of achieving this is by intertwining the prestige of the brand with the clout of someone with established authority, like a celebrity, a doctor, an instructor or any other kind of expert in the area. An endorsement or testimonial from someone who is highly regarded cuts through the clutter and produces great results. 

Ethos can also be established through numbers. If a large number of people with authority endorse a product/service, consumers are far more likely to feel trust towards it.

Example of Ethos appeal in a Facebook Ad

Example of Ethos appeal in a Facebook Ad

Pathos

Pathos is another way of connecting to the audience, this time through emotions. If you can write up ad copy that makes consumers feel something or that appeals to their sense of identity, you’re using pathos. You might have noticed that this technique is used over and over on Facebook, especially in video ads, which have a high emotional impact. It’s highly probable that you’re based many buying decisions on emotions without even realising it. 

Have you ever joined a cause after reading a post/article/blog about it? Have you ever felt guilty about not doing something or excited about helping others by clicking on a link, signing a petition or buying a certain product? Then you’re experienced Pathos advertising first-hand. 

The emotions generated through these ads can be either positive or negative. The main idea is the same: there needs to be an emotional tension that can only be relieved through action. 

Ads that use pathos really pull at your heartstrings, as you can see in the example below.  

Example of Pathos appeal in a Facebook Ad

Logos

Logos appeals to the consumers’ logic and common sense by using facts, numbers and statistics. After coming into contact with a Logos ad, consumers should feel like buying the product/service is the logical thing to do. 

Logos ads offer hard facts and often use percentages and numbers to convey the message. No waffle, no fluff – just facts. This is a technique often used by insurance companies, dentists and tech companies.

Example of Logos appeal in a Facebook Ad

Kairos

Kairos means “opportunity” in Greek and it refers to aligning your ads with trends and simply knowing which way the wind is blowing. To create compelling ads, you need to stay on top of what’s going on and leverage it as much as possible. 

Take the COVID-19 crisis as an example. Many businesses have had to adapt to the new climate and so have their ads. In the midst of a crisis, many have even found an opportunity to sell a new type of product or to restructure their business to help it survive. 

Example of Kairos appeal in a Facebook Ad

Kairos could mean using a viral video, a popular hashtag, an event or even a piece of news to your advantage. You know what they say: “timing is everything”.

Example of Kairos appeal in a newspaper ad

Telos

Another important principle derived from ancient Greek wisdom is Telos. It refers to the purpose or intention behind your ads aka your end game. This is an essential part of strategy: what do you aim to achieve through your message?

Translated into Facebook Campaigns language, Telos means deciding on the scope of your ad/campaign: do you want clicks, reach, conversions or brand awareness? This will influence not only your ad copy, but also your ad creative. 

Looking back at the three persuasive techniques discussed above – Ethos, Pathos and Logos – you could view Telos as the spark that ignites them and determines how you write your copy.

The same car ad could change depending on what your Telos is: 

It could appeal to a deep emotion or desire (like the desire to impress or be part of a certain social class) – this is Pathos.

It could appeal to common sense by listing all the car’s unique features – this is Logos.

It could make use of credibility and status by using a well-known celebrity to promote the car and its features.

All the above principles should be used by copywriters to create persuasive, appealing ads that sell. Start out by determining your Telos and deciding on the persuasive techniques to use (separately or together, for a stronger impact): Ethos, Pathos and Logos. Enhance your impact by applying the Kairos principle to make your ads that much more relevant and relatable. 

If you’re still feeling stuck when it comes to Ad Copy, get in touch with Visible and we’ll make sure your Ads get the results you want.