Copywriting like a pro
Copywriting is the art of writing words to persuade people to do or buy something. But to persuade people to act, your copy must do 3 things. Read on to find out what those are and a few simple techniques that will help you achieve the best results.
Copywriting is the art of writing words to persuade people to do or buy something.
But to persuade people to act, your copy must do 3 things:
- Cut through the noise with impact: Is your message memorable?
- Communicate: Does it clarify the big idea you want people to know?
- Persuade: Does it motivate the reader to act?
(Source: Miguel Ferreira)
Here are a few ways to make this happen – even if you are not a copywriter.
1/ Be specific
Tell the truth, but make it fascinating. – David Ogilvy –
In “How to Write Potent Copy,” David Oglivy describes this ad as having “the best headline I ever wrote.”
He didn’t just say, “Rolls-Royce is the quietest car around.” Instead, he painted a picture. You can imagine the feeling of going 60 miles an hour. You can hear the wind whooshing through the open window with the quiet hum of the motor broken only by the tick-tick-tick of the clock.
“In my Rolls-Royce advertisements I gave nothing but facts. No adjectives, no ‘gracious living.’ “
In the footnote, Mr. Ogilvy describes how the chief engineer at the Rolls-Royce factory shook his head sadly and said, “It is time we did something about that damned clock.”
2/ Keep it simple
The bar stool test will help you cut back on jargon and stay conversational. People are more likely to connect if it sounds like there is a real human behind your copy.
Here’s the test:
“Would you say this sentence while sitting on a bar stool, in a bar, talking to a friend? If the answer is no, rewrite the sentence.”
3/ Address underlying needs
You can’t be seen until you learn to see. – Seth Godin –
Blabbing on about your product’s specs and features may be interesting to you but it will make most people move on. Focus your copy on addressing pain points and underlying needs. *
ActiveCampaign saw wild results after a simple headline tweak:
At first, the copy read, “Marketing automation done right.”
They changed it to, “Automation handles what no one else has time for.”
That small change brought a 700% conversion increase. BOOYAH.
For more on identifying underlying needs and establishing a narrative people will connect with, we recommend reading This Is Marketing by Seth Godin.
4/ Pique peoples’ curiosity
As human beings we don’t like not knowing. Not knowing the answer... Not knowing the end of a story… Not being in on a secret…
Our brains are hardwired to want more.
Behavioral economist and Carnegie Mellon professor George Loewenstein outlines 5 ways to make people curious in his paper on the psychology of curiosity.
- Ask a curiosity-inducing question
- Start a sequence of events, but don’t finish (e.g., an unfinished story)
- Do something unexpected
- Imply you have info they don’t
- Imply they used to know something that they’ve since forgotten
Using a few of these techniques in your copy will instantly make people more curious. And curious people keep reading.
5/ Edit aggressively
Don’t fall in love with your copy just because you wrote it. Here is the checklist we use to keep our writing on track (Taken from Copywriting – Successful writing for design, advertising and marketing, a gloriously in-depth book written by Mark Shaw.)
Achieve maximum clarity
Can the message be misinterpreted? If so, change it.
Hit the word count
Remove all padding and be prepared to add material.
Don’t waffle, be as succinct as possible.
Get the facts right
Is the material accurate? Are you sure it is correct?
Remove the jargon
Explain things to everyone, and everyone will get it.
Perfect the spelling
Use the spell checker as backup.
Check the punctuation
Apostrophes really matter – just keep the rest simple.
Maintain the right tone
Express the brand and relate to the audience.
Finally, always remember: