Let’s face it, people who spoil the end of books for others are awful. Sure, subtle signs suggested Snape was a good guy, but still, it was a pretty big deal when it was revealed. And don’t even get me started on the ending of Game of Thrones…

Whatever the case, it’s likely that once you’ve been spoiled, there’s no going back. The fun is gone. The sense of wonder is extinguished. The chapter closes. Like your favorite book, great ads are meant to be savored. And just like books, ads can be ruined by spoilers too. This time, however, it’s not a well-meaning friend who accidentally spoils the ending. It’s the advertisers themselves.

In the digital age, it’s too easy for an advertiser to blend in amongst the crowd. I mean, how often do you see or hear an ad and think, “Oh wow, that was really clever?” More often than not, like the rest of the internet, you’re trying to figure out how to skip it. Why? Marketers too often give away the end of their ads before viewers have a chance to enjoy the journey.

*spoiler* This does not make for good or creative advertising. Marketers must be as creative as possible to cut through the noise of predictable ads. They need to create ads that tell a story, engage the viewer, and, ultimately, leave a lasting impression. What’s the best way to do this? I’ll let you in on a little secret, very few ad writers have figured it out. We, however, have the answer.

The Importance of Opening Statements in Creative Advertising

Every great story – and every great ad – begins with a statement that triggers more questions than it answers. Do you remember the first time you watched the trailer for your favorite movie? You didn’t know how it ended, but you couldn’t ait to find out. So, you bought a ticket. The same should be true of your ads.

As an ad writer, you must allow viewers to enjoy the journey before giving away the ending. To do this, start with a statement that triggers more questions than it answers.

“I do not like to turn right when leaving my neighborhood…”

“I was an 8-year-old boy finding the wrench for my father…”

“You are sitting in a dimly lit restaurant when you hear an alarming noise…”

Like myself, you’re probably thinking, “Why doesn’t he or she like to turn right? Why is he finding the wrench? What noise?” Great! You’re engaged. You want to know more. This is your movie trailer moment. Now, it’s time to sell all the tickets.

The Narrative Arc

In every great story, there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. Your business story is no different. After you’ve drawn your audience in with a strong hook, you need to keep them engaged with compelling content. The narrative arc of your story should take your audience on a journey. And along the way, they should come to know, like, and trust you and your business.

It’s important, however, that your narrative arc does not lose momentum. To keep your audience engaged, you must maintain a sense of wonder, curiosity, and suspense…

You are sitting in a dimly lit restaurant when you hear a strange noise. The walls are covered with jagged shards of golden light. You then hear another strange noise. The jagged shards of light are missing. Murmurs of wonder flood the restaurant. The jagged shards appear again, dancing in unison to music that only they can hear. And again, they are gone. The crowd applauds the unexpected delight. Smiles are beaming, teeth are bright. More jagged shards and golden light. No one notices the man sitting at the table in the middle of the room, staring at his folded tablecloth, lost in thought. A woman then emerges from the shadows behind him. Startled, he looks up, and drops to one knee. The golden shards of light dance fast and bright across his face and hers. And they kiss. And the candlelit restaurant explodes in cheer. A tiny box now sits empty on the table. Flickering Firelight™ diamonds, available exclusively at Morgan Jewelers.

Using various storytelling tactics, you can implement descriptive language to transport a reader into another world. And while your reader may not be interested in your product or service, imagination will likely keep them reading. But why would someone show interest in an ad that is irrelevant to them? Throughout history, humans have been known for their ability to solve problems. When an ad begins with a sentence that poses a question, we feel compelled to find the answer.

So why must we always feel compelled to provide the answers? You may be surprised to know that people enjoy feeling like they’ve solved a problem on their own. Imagination is a powerful tool when it comes to problem-solving. As adults, we must not forget the importance of imagination.

The 5 W’s of Journalism and Great Ads

Remember when you first learned how to write a narrative in elementary school? Maybe you were writing about your day or your summer plans. Whatever the case, you were likely taught to always answer the 5 W’s: who, what, when, where, and why. But as you’ve probably noticed, real life isn’t always so cut and dry. Sometimes the best stories are the ones that defy easy explanation. The reason most people hate advertising is because people don’t want to be sold to.

Journalists, in particular, are why most people hate advertising. Unlike newspapers and magazines, ads don’t have to answer the 5 W’s. In fact, the best ads don’t even try. Ad writers must leave some things unanswered. It’s these unanswered questions that make readers want to know more and, eventually, buy what you’re selling.

Refer to the following ad:

Guidomeyer’s Furniture is having a sale! This week, Guidomeyer’s is having a sale at 1715 Barkmaster Avenue! Save! Save! Save up to 50% this week at Guidomeyer’s annual clearance sale! Guidomeyer’s has been serving the needs of Pottersville for 71 years, so come to Guidomeyer’s and shop for your furniture! We have recliners, coffee tables, end tables, nightstands, TV trays, and financing will be available! Guidomeyer’s Annual Clearance Sale! This week! 1715 Barkmaster! Hurry, hurry, hurry before all the good stuff is gone! Guidomeyer’s!

Were you engaged by their obvious selling tactics? Probably not. But I bet you could point out the 5 W’s. To create an effective ad, you must not spoil your punchline. People are naturally curious beings, and we have a natural inclination to want to know what we don’t know. The same goes for your readers. Make them curious about what happens after every phrase, sentence, and paragraph. Only then should you allude to the product or service you’re trying to sell.

Holding Your Listener’s ATTENTION

So how do you hold your listener’s attention? You guessed it: Curiosity. When you arouse someone’s curiosity, they want to know more. Think about the last time you overheard someone talking about something they were passionate about or a secret.

Chances are, they had you curious about what they were saying. You wanted to know more. To generate an effective ad, it is vital to maintain your readers’ attention throughout the entire process. How do you do that? Here are five important techniques:

  1. Open with a statement that triggers questions. – Spark curiosity about what the 5W’s are.
  2. Introduce the narrative arc (the plot) quickly. – Embark on a journey with your audience. Let them explore it on their own.
  3. Never be afraid to surprise your reader. Be unpredictable. – Predictable ads are boring ads. Do not be afraid to take them somewhere unexpected.
  4. Lead your listener to a conclusion. Allow them to discover it. – Let your audience figure out the mystery for themselves. Lead them to your product or service in a way that feels rewarding.
  5. Leave out irrelevant or predictable information. Consumers hate ads that sound like ads. – The path to failure lies in ads that sound like ads. The best ads are those that offer insight and value.

From a young age, children are encouraged never to leave a question unanswered. Imagination, however, often requires that we do. Implementing these five techniques will help you create content that keeps your audience engaged. Only then will you be able to implement rhythm to make your message dance off the tongue.

Musical Writer’s POETIC Meter

Poetry is all about using language to create rhythm. Often, this rhythm is created through the use of meter, which is the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. There are many different types of meter, but one of the most common is the anapestic tetrameter, which is often used in children’s poetry.

Coined by Dr. Seuss, an apestic tetrameter consists of four feet, each containing two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable. For reference, here is an example:_pum-pum-PUM-pum-pum-PUM-pum-pum-PUM-pum-pum-PUM_While that may just look like a jumble of syllables, when you read it out loud, you can start to feel the rhythm. Consider the following example from Dr. Seuss himself:

“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind..”

Like any successful poem, a meter must be used skillfully to create a pleasing and compelling work of art. Some of the greatest novelists, such as Ernest Hemingway, have employed such devices in their writing.

For example, the opening lines of A Farewell to Arms are rife with iambic pentameter. The use of meter can add a great deal of musicality and rhythm to a poem or an ad. It can also create a sense of urgency or foreboding, depending on the effect the advertiser hopes to achieve.

My advice? Don’t read ad copy to learn about writing successful ads. Read poetry, short stories, or even novels.

The Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes in Literature

Among the things that I enjoy most about literature is the variety of forms and meters that writers use. Playing with words allows writers to create something beautiful and complex out of a simple idea. This, however, is not limited to storytellers. All writers, even beginners, can learn to use meter to create stunning effects in their writing. After all, meter is not just for poets!

Ernest Hemingway, for example, is known for his use of rhythmic, staccato prose. This style of writing is evident in his novel, A Farewell to Arms. Here is a short passage from the novel: “Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees.” Inspired by Bach, Hemmingway’s heavy use of “and” breaks free from traditional rules to create a more lyrical, musical prose. This creates a more intimate connection between the reader and the story as if it’s being told to us directly.

By choosing to break free from traditional writing rules, Hemingway explores different ways of conveying emotion and experience through language. After all, he didn’t win a Nobel Peace Prize by sticking to what “works.”

So how can you use Hemmingway’s Nobel Prize-winning techniques in your own writing? Read more poetry, break the rules, and become a storyteller.

Are you a Journalist, or an Ad Writer of Great Ads?

People who spoil the end of books for others are the worst kind of people. From a young age, we learn to read for pleasure, lose ourselves in other worlds, and empathize with characters. Great ads should give your readers a similar experience.

Whether you are a journalist or an ad writer, your job is to tell a story. And just like any good story, your ad must break free from the noise. Today, various brands are implementing the use of storytelling to deliver their message in a more creative way. Advertising using storytelling is a great way to make your ad more memorable and effective, regardless of the medium.

At Wizard of Ads®, we believe that effective advertising always comes down to a great story. Backed by expertise and experience, our team is dedicated to helping brands create unforgettable advertising experiences. If you’re looking for a team to help capture attention without spoiling the ending, book a call with Ryan Chute today.