“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” – Elmore Leonard
In our recent SquadU, I spoke about a recent copywriting course I took in addition to some nuggets of advice I’ve picked up during my time as a copywriter. The course I took was simple and designed to offer good reminders, tips, and tricks. According to this course, there are 3 pillars to consider when drafting great copy:
These are helpful starting points as oftentimes, especially when you write a lot of copy, you can forget to consider those pillars, making your voice repetitive and boring.
Copy never acts alone.
Whether you’re watching a commercial, looking at a billboard, or searching a website, the copy is never acting on its own. Think of it like salt. Chances are that you aren’t ever eating handfuls of salt on its own. However, if you’re anything like my grandfather, you put salt on everything: meat, vegetables, eggs, the list goes on. This is because salt is a flavor enhancer. On its own, it can be overwhelming. However, add it to some dull-tasting french fries, and all of a sudden, you’re hit with a blast of delicious flavor that you never want to stop eating.
The same can be said of copy. If you were to be fed a bunch of words with zero context, you would feel overwhelmed and ultimately remember nothing of what you just heard or read. However, if you pair that copy with an engaging video, captivating photograph, dynamic graphic, or lively presenter, you will see good copy have its greatest effect. So while quality copy alone cannot be your entire marketing strategy, it’s important to remember that without it, your content will be dull and flavorless.
For some, writing is a practice you avoid like the plague. For others, it’s a necessary evil you complete without much passion. Yet, for some, it is a joy to craft a message with words. Whatever camp you fall in, there is hope for you when it comes to copywriting, especially in our business. The marketing world is not interested in reading a medical journal-style report on a company’s product. Instead, they want the message to be short, sweet, and to the point.
I’m assuming that most of us passed sixth grade at some point in our life (we don’t necessarily have to talk about how many tries it took). Most copywriting should be written at a sixth-grade reading level. While this may be surprising, it can give hope to anyone who feels like writing copy is beyond their skillset.
Whether you’re writing about a roofing company or antidisestablishmentarianism, you don’t have to go out of your way to use big words that make you sound smarter. If anything, you sound pretentious, and people are less likely to keep reading…
Anyways, the following are a few tips and tricks to use when trying to spark ideas for engaging copy.
These are strategies to consider regarding what audiences are looking for from your copy.
You certainly don’t have to use these strategies. For some, it may hamper your creativity. However, for those who need a bit of a spark, they can be extremely useful.
Ultimately your audience is your friend, and as your friend, they will give you everything you need. What do I mean by that? Utilizing reviews, personal blogs, and even video content related to your product can give you a huge head start. When you write copy, you’re looking to satisfy a pain point, and audiences are very good at telling you exactly what’s bothering them.
As the Blue Oyster Cult once sang, “Don’t fear the copy”...or something like that. Sometimes it’s as simple as imagining you’re talking to someone right in front of you. You wouldn’t read them an essay to sell them on something, you would talk to them! Some copy will be formal depending on the client, but for the most part, creating engaging headlines and descriptions is all about finding ways to make your writing sound less like writing.
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