Copycats are cool!
According to Google we are all copycats. Just write a sentence down, a new product name or an idea and the chances are someone has been there before you. Check it out and you will soon find that originality is a rare commodity.
Whenever I get carried away in the belief that I write original copy Google brings me thundering back down to earth. The first lesson in copywriting is that borrowing good ideas, phrases and terms from others is both cool and necessary as long as you do not infringe copyright of course.
Copywriting is all about having a dialogue with the audience. The best way to engage them is to use a direct conversational style. Remember in most modern communications you only have seconds to make the difference, so personalising your content is vital, like this:
Are you awake? I am glad I got your attention. By the way I have a great product that I would like you to try out. Is that OK? Oh you would like to know a little more first. Of course, so here are some of the unique benefits we can offer you. I have an idea why not test my new product free-of-charge, and if you like it we can come to a deal. Is that OK?
That was tongue in cheek, but I covered a typical selling and buying conversation in 78 words. Most of the time commercial copywriting is covering the same ground so standing out in your copy is vital, and that is why engaging the reader in an imaginary conversation is always the right way to go.
Headliner or bin liner
Great copy always starts with a great headline. Far too often headlines I read are as dull as ditch water and belong in a bin liner not in a brochure or on a website. Remember the headline is your moment of glory your one second of fame. This is your chance to captivate and entertain so do not waste it.
Clever copywriters understand that we read in two ways, skimming and, when interested, delving deeper. Skim readers will read headlines and sub headings to understand an article, brochure or more often web copy, so I work hard to ensure the headline and sub headings all work together as a complete story. This does not mean that body content writing should be neglected. If a reader wants to delve it is because they want to understand or gather more information so this aspect of copywriting has to satisfy too.
The shorter the better
Whether it is advertising copy, web copy or content writing for a newsletter the shorter the better. A good copywriter always has the aim to communicate or convey an idea in the fewest number of words. Why?
Well it’s simple really time or the lack of it. Today we are exposed to far more communication than at anytime in the history of mankind. To survive this barrage of words, pictures and sounds we consciously and unconsciously filter what we absorb. This means copywriters need to get their message across as succinctly and quickly as possible.
The hardest job for a copywriter is to reduce and fine-tune his/her text to the fewest words possible. In my experience short text and headlines are often the most powerful and memorable, when combined with the right image. My shortest advertising copy has been my best and most successful. For example I have used both “One is enough” and “Size matters” for campaigns involving hand towel dispensers and for dust masks. Neither is original to me, but they fitted perfectly the context of the communications.
Keep it short and relevant with a touch of humour and you can achieve amazing results as a copywriter.