Know – and love – your stuff
Great knowledge and passion for your subject will shine through your copy. You need to know absolutely everything about your subject – and your competition – before you can begin.
Know who you’re talking to
Good copywriters walk a mile in their readers’ shoes. They know the type of people they are, what they’re thinking, what they love, hate, want and need. Don’t attempt to start unless you know how your service or product is going to help these people solve their problem or challenge– even if they don’t know they have one yet!
Write to someone you know
Think of friend or family member and write as if you’re talking to them. Your copy will be conversational and you’ll sound friendly and approachable. That’s the first step in getting your reader to trust you. Copy that shows you’re knowledgeable and that you care is a quite potent. Your reader will relax and take in all you have to say.
What’s up front counts
Your headline and first few lines are critical. They need to grab attention and keep it there. But don’t get all nervous about your opening lines. Just start writing – if a great line doesn’t come immediately, keep going. Chances are you’ll write your best opening sentence last or when you’re de-fluffing your copy.
What’s in it for me?
Good copywriters don’t sell the sausage, they sell the sizzle. It’s all about persuasion. Sure explain the features of your product or service, but hook it into the benefit. For example, a product may be ‘very economical’ and sure you can tell your reader that – but also tell them what it means; hey this will save you time, so you can spend more time doing something you love – instead of housework.
Why we’re different
Don’t forget to differentiate your product/service from your competitors. And that means answering all the whys; why this is a great product, why you should take time to read this, why should you trust me, why should you buy from me and not Joe Blow down the road. Make sure all these questions are answered in your copy.
Use sign posts
Break up longer copy into easy bite-sized chunks by using signposts – sub heads. They can be quickly scanned to pick out what bits a reader is most interested in.
De-fluff your copy
When you think you’ve finished writing your copy, go back and cut the fluff. Get rid of unnecessary words and waffle. When you’ve finished the sales pitch, stop. Don’t bang on and on.
Now cut that out
In great copy, every word works hard for you. If you still feel you don’t need to cut any more copy, pretend someone has given you a word count maximum that’s 30% less than you’ve written. Cut it down by 30%. Your copy will come out stronger.
Tell them where to go
What do you want the reader to do? If they buy into your sell, make sure they understand what the next step is. Don’t just hope they’ll work it out, tell them what they’ve got to do next.
Alison Bennett is a copywriter with over 30 years experience in advertising and marketing, including stints in publishing and journalism.