DeCritic, award-winning copywriters, content writers, PR and ad agency.
Reading Time: 7 minutes

How to write an SMS ad – The winner of 30words competition

Inspired by ‘Taking advantage of the neglected power of SMS’ we created a competition to recruit a new copywriter to our team. That competition was ‘30words – a competition for Nigerian copywriters’. This article is intended to address how to write an SMS ad while using the entries of the 30words competition as a case study, and also announcing the winner of the competition. If you are a lover of knowledge, then seat tight, and enjoy the ride.

The Brief – what to write

Every writing is channelled towards a purpose. It is expedient to understand the client’s business and the instruction of the client, otherwise, a copywriter may end up writing off-track.

The brief in the competition states – ‘De Critic has now requested that you, a Nigerian copywriter…write a 30words SMS, promoting XYZ fashion-clothing and calling customers/potential customers to action.

According to Chimamanda, ‘If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway.’

Of the 20 valid entries received ( 15 other entries were rejected for non-compliance), we begin with Teresa. Teresa missed the point when she wrote vaguely ‘Creativity is embedded in us all; our minds are vast canvases with imaginations awakening our most innate desires. Allow XYZ bring your fantasies to reality, visit and let’s get started!’

Amarachi also succeeded in limiting XYZ fashion-clothing to neckties. She wrote ‘Likeability is beautiful but never enough; it keeps you average. Take life by its collars with XYZ necktie collections and stand out. Visit for outstanding neckties at discount prices.’

The Customers – who to write for

Bearing in mind that SMS usually shouldn’t pass 30words otherwise it risks its potency, understanding what to write about is important. Knowing the people you are writing for is another thing. Sometimes, the brief or site analytics gives you a tip about who your customers are. In this case, the customers would be those who are already patronisers of XYZ fashion-clothing and those who are not yet patronisers. One thing they all have in common, however, is love for fashion-clothing. At this point in time, we expect their numbers have been received in line with privacy laws.

So case study one. Felix wrote ‘Ah Martha! So if I don’t text you, our friendship will just end abi? Oya visit & check out XYZ clothing’s latest flash sales as my peace offering.’

Felix apparently failed to remember he was writing for customers and non-customers. How does ‘so if I don’t text you our friendship will just end abi?’ meet that requirement? Felix has lost a better use of 12words.

The same thing happened to Nasfisat when she forgot some of the audience are already customers. She wrote ‘Hi [Name], We’d love to have YOU as our Customer! …’

The SMS – How to write it

This part is the hardest for those who do not understand the psychology of writing. How do you use 30words to invoke someone to action? No time for drip campaign – just a direct call to action.

First, you want to sound personal. Call the person’s name if possible.

According to a psychologist, Prof Joyce E.A Russell, in The Power of Using A Name ‘a person’s name us the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality’. For Dale Carnegie ‘a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.’ Do you get it why now?

Sometimes, you may be personal without mentioning the name. This is achieved by striking heavily on the interest of the customer, so they feel naturally involved and called upon.

Secondly, you want to draw attention to the interest/desire of the customer.

If they are lovers of fashion, then, it means some are likely to have high taste and would dislike common wears. Even non-lovers of fashion are interested in something rare, classic and beautiful. In truth, those who care about what they wear often do not mind paying a little extra for fashion-clothing. So, the audience here are not necessarily poor. They resonate with  classic and rare clothing.

Both the rich and the poor love discounts. It makes them feel they are saving money. But be careful –a discount is not synonymous with cheap prices. So discounts, real or not, is another attention caller, provided the price is not cheap.

Thirdly, write clearly and be careful the hyperboles. So, there is a big difference between calling for attention and making an over-exaggeration. To say, for instance, like Amara that ‘A dress I got at XYZ clothing unexpected landed me a promotion, you should check them out now…’ screams fake and scam. Avoid such.

Fourthly, avoid the use of caps and exclamations. After the daily trauma of about 5000 ads per day, consumers have come to pick exclamations as a desperate attribute of advertisement. Also, the caps have a way of slapping readers on the face or making them feel you are playing with their intelligence. Sadly, they may pass as disrespectfulness today – they should sparingly be used.

Nasfisat made this error when she wrote ‘Hi [Name], We’d love to have YOU as our Customer! Dress CHIC with our NEWEST, CLASSY designs available at @ 75% discount on ALL your purchases till 11:59pm tomorrow.’

Fifthly, it is important that you sound urgent, but not desperate. You do not want the reader to procrastinate otherwise there is 60% chances they will never act on it. So what can you say to get fashion-clothing lovers to buy urgently? It is certainly not enough to say ‘buy now’. There was no urgency in Goddy, Emmanuella, and Obinna’s entry. And sadly, the same fate befell Maynathewriter and Emmanuel’s beautiful entries.

Sixthly, write in full and avoid silly abbreviations, wrong punctuations or format. `example – ‘hurry nw 2 XYZ’, or ‘Originality and creativity are must haves in these times,so are our wear, Dazzle in amazing outfits from our collection, visit…’. Sadly, this got Chioma out of the game. The same fate, sadly, befell Taiwo ‘…at customer friendly prices.want to be the talk of every event visit http://…’

Finally, make your message unique not mechanical. For instance Chukwudi sounded less unique when he wrote ‘Thinking about the appropriate outfit? XYZ always got you covered with our range of bespoke collections with impeccable elegance…’ Avoid the overused cliches and patterns. The style loses grasp of those who are not thinking of appropriate outfit now.

The call to action in the message

It is now cliché to use BUY NOW. A lot of the online tips on SMS ads, sadly, do not know any better. We have found those two words to be offensive especially to Millennials. The phrase has gradually shifted from a harmless call-to-action to a commanding and forceful call to buy. In truth, one can be firm and demanding without rubbing it on the readers face. Some of our preferred call-to-action which is more friendly includes – ‘Check out now…’, ‘You can call now to…’, ‘Hurry now before…’, ‘Buy today to get..’

The Winner of the 30words SMS copy

In no particular order, we find Annie, Kingsley, Pat, Soroye, Chinenye, Oruare, and Nancy entries to be top-notch. But then, only a winner is needed out of 20, to join our team.

So, we invited 5 Judges who have requested anonymity. One is the head of marketing for one of Nigeria’s top company. The other is a copywriter for one of Nigeria’s top marketing agency. The third is the CEO of one of Nigeria’s top fashion house. One is a partner at De Critic, and the other is a foreign psychologist and anthropologist. No one has less than 7years experience in their field.

Oruare beginning lines took him off the focus. He wrote vaguely – ‘Stepping up your game? Rebranding? XYZ apparel gives you that confident you. Visit de critic decritic for trendy, pocket friendly wears. 20% discount when you order 3 or more. Hurry!’

Chinenye sounded kind of desperate when she offered whooping 50% on all outfits. She wrote ‘Heard of the new Fashion house in town? XYZ Fashion-clothing is offering a 50% discount on all its outfit. You can enjoy this exclusive offer by clicking on now!’ Plus the brief says some are already customers, so they know XYZ.

The same fate befell Kingsley thus ‘You deserve a treat! Heard about XYZ fashion-clothing? They’ve got fantastic clothe-lines. Visit, use the code TREAT4ME, enjoy 50% discount. Ignore if you don’t want elegance. Otherwise, Buy now!’

From this point onwards, it was sad and hard for our Judges to let go of the following:

Annie wrote ‘Hi there! Do you know you can slay on a budget? Shop at XYZ Fashion Wears today, and get 5% off every cloth you buy! Visit to get started!’ Her beautiful entry was let go because of the too many exclamations.

Nancy, coming third, wrote ‘No time for tailor wahala? Hurry now to XYZ fashion clothing for unique and bespoke wears. Take advantage of our incredibly affordable prices. Visit and thank me later.’ The tailor wahala, though, a creative input, also has the converse effect of limiting the scope of consumers target.

At this stage, our judges couldn’t agree on who to choose between Soroye Sowemimo-Coker and Pat Obiekwe. It was only logical that the CEO of the Fashion House and a neutral person who loves clothing/fashion, decide what resonated more with the industry.

Fortunately, both independently agreed to let go of Soroye who wrote ‘Attracting the right connections starts with looking good. To pick up trendy and affordable wears, visit and go through our special offers on Adult and kids clothes. BUY NOW’ Soroye came second only because the man on the street and the fashion house CEO said Pat’s SMS resonated more with them.

The winner is Pat Obiekwe (real name – Odinaka Obiekwe) wrote

Looks, they say is everything. It is the door to possibilities. Check out now for affordable classic fashion wears and uncommon clothing.

Pat Obiekwe

Pat Obiekwe wins the N10,000 and is invited to join the team. She gets our certificate of merit and our in-house training.

De Critic is very impressed with all the entries in the competition and thus invite all participants to feel free to write and submit articles that will fit under any of the categories of our blog, we will gladly publish them from time to time. Send to –

P.S We hope you have learnt a lot from this post. Should you be interested in procuring our upcoming book (N5,000) later this year, where we will be exposing The Unpublished Secrets of Content/Copywriting, compiled after years of practical industry experience, kindly type ‘Yes’ in the comment session below and make sure to fill and tick all boxes so the system can record your detail for delivery purpose. You can also email  This book is nothing like you have ever read.

6 Responses

  1. Kingsley Ukaulor says:

    Wow! The analysis of the entries really got my fancy. Thanks, De Critic for finding time to publish the reviews. It’s very well appreciated. I am, however, very elated for being part of the competition.

    Please, I have two questions.
    (1). Could De Critic kindly bring the 20 competitors into one umbrella for them to bond and build a stronger network?
    (2). Since I didn’t win, I would still love to join De Critic Team. How do I join the team?

    I would appreciate your kind feedback at your earliest convenience. Gracias.

  2. Nancy Amadi says:

    Wow!!! Thanks so much DeCritic team for this eyeopener., An awesome competition it was

  3. Emeka ( says:

    Wow. This is the best content I have seen on this subject. And YES, I am interested.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

award-winning PR and copywriting agency DeCritic.