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12 essential copywriting tips

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Here are some simple copywriting tips, which will help your copy become more effective.

1. Before you begin, ensure you know exactly what you wish to achieve from the project. Is this a branding exercise? Do you want readers to sign up for something? Do you want increased sales? Do you want to impart information?

2. Understand your target audience and why they need your product or service. Think carefully about your customers, what sort of people they are, their likes and dislikes, and what problems they have which your business will resolve. Make a list of;

a) all their possible ‘problems’ and how it affects their lives
b) all the ways in which your product or service can help
c) what benefits they will enjoy

Write about the customer and their needs, state how your business resolves those needs and what benefits it will bring. You want to make the customer feel like they can’t live without your service.

3. Highlight the ‘benefits’ of your product or service. For example, ‘the Blitz hoover has a revolutionary new suction mechanism. This means that you will achieve double the results in half the time so you can sit down and relax.’

4. Use ‘you’, not ‘I’. Try to avoid writing only from the perspective of ‘I’ or ‘we’, for example ‘At Clever Computing we offer this service, and we do this, and we do that’. This does not connect with the reader. Focus on the customer and use the word ‘you’. Write about how your service will affect the customer and how it will improve their lives.

5. Do not be afraid of long copy. It is a widely held belief that you should keep copy to a minimum, particularly on websites, because people are in a rush and get easily bored. My rule is this: ‘the copy should be as long as it takes to persuade the customer to contact you’. There is no point cutting out something that you feel the customer should know. You must give them as many reasons why they should contact you as possible – even if that means long copy. Just make sure that it is clear and concise. There is a difference between ‘long copy’ and ‘waffling copy’.

6. Break up the copy. When a reader first lands on your homepage, or receives your sales letter, they will scan the copy. If they don’t see anything that catches their eye, they are likely to move on to the next website, or throw away your letter. It is important therefore to make use of headings, sub-headings and bulleted lists. You should also put your key selling point in the first line. Once a reader realises that you are talking to them, and that your product or service is interesting, they will read on.

7. Do not think that everything has to be grammatically correct. Copywriting needs to be simple and direct, however complex your subject. A conversational style is often the most effective.

8. If you attempt humour, make sure it is funny. Unfunny jokes are just irritating, or can offend the reader.

9. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!

10. Don’t forget your ‘call to action’. This encourages the reader to do something immediately, such as to sign up for an email newsletter, make a purchase, or return a coupon. On websites, use at least one call to action on every page.

11. If you are writing a sales letter, a P.S. at the bottom is a great way to catch the reader’s eye. Use it to re-state your main message or call to action.

12. Review your copy several times. If you can, go away and come back the next day with a fresh eye.

Filed under: Blog post

February 1, 2009, 4:00 pm

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