What Good (Ad) Writers Do

Want your ad dollars to do more? Hire a good writer.

Good writing makes us feel deeply.

If you’ve ever loved a canine companion, these words will reduce you to a puddle. And you will feel richer for having read them. Because good writing touches our emotions.

Good writing also paints pictures. And when good writing meets human speech—in storytelling or radio advertising— the pictures painted in the mind spring to life.

Listen to these four very different radio commercials. What you see in your mind’s eye as you listen to each?

Die, sucker!

Is that even a word? 

Beethoven’s life — in 60 seconds


Burgess Meredith captures childhood magic.

When your commercial paints vivid mental pictures or makes the listener feel strongly about something you both care about, you’ll win her attention. Do it consistently and you’ll win her affection. That’s crucial, because consumers prefer patronizing businesses they like.

But if your commercial is filled with unsubstantiated claims, tired clichés, or pronouncements about how wonderful you are—it’s unlikely to move the Why Should I Care? needle in your direction.

Good advertising isn’t about you. It’s about your customer.

Take the time to find out what your customers care about, the problems they’re facing (that you can help solve), in other words: the things that matter to them. Listen to them Then craft your advertising messages with empathy.

This is what good writers do.

If you cannot do this yourself (be honest about it), I urge you to enlist the services of one who can.

A good writer will weave words into gold. It will happen right before your very ears.

Aspiring young copywriters come to me for advice from time to time; that is to say they are looking for jobs, but when they find out my own ego is so strong I can scarcely bear to have other copywriters around at all, so it shouldn’t be a total waste they ask polite questions to fill in the remainder of the time. After warning them that a career in advertising is like skin-diving in a barrel of piranhas, I generally advise them to get a job wherever they can. Then, I tell them to look around until they see an account that nobody else in the place gives a hoot about and grab it and run like hell back to their own cubicle. Since nobody else cares about it they can do it just their way, and, if possible, smuggle it out the back door direct to the client so that nobody else’s hands taint their lovely child. Actually, this is a very good way to start, but, in fact, my recommending it is simply a waste of good breath. Because anyone capable of following such advice would do it naturally anyway, with no more thought than a dog uses to wag his tail.

– Howard Luck Gossage, How to Be Creative

About Rod Schwartz 43 Articles
Rod Schwartz backed into a lifelong career in radio advertising in 1973 in Springfield, Illinois. He became sales manager for the Pullman Radio Group in 1979 and served in that position until 2006. He continued to serve clients in the region as the stations’ senior account executive until his retirement in December 2022, having spent 43 of his 50 years in radio advertising here. In 1991, Rod and his family started Grace Broadcast Sales, creating short-form radio features which were syndicated to radio and TV stations across the U.S. and Canada. An avid photographer, Rod shares some of his favorite images of the Palouse at PalousePics.com.