Even a novice will be able to create professional copy within hours by following these 7 Golden Rules!
Some might call it copywriting, some might call it content writing, but whether you’re writing for a leaflet, advert, press-release, or for the internet – and whether your copy needs to be written to provide information, or to promote a product or service – these 7 easy steps will help you hone your writing skills without breaking a sweat.
1. What’s your proposition?
Start planning your copy by thinking about what you’re trying to say and how you might go about saying it. Make notes about the structure, the tone and how many words you need to write. What are your key messages and offers? What are your unique selling points (USPs) etc? When writing copy, you need to mean what you say – so having a product or service you genuinely believe in is vital! How can you convince others, if you’re not convinced yourself?
2. Know your audience.
It sounds an obvious question, but who are you writing for? We’re still in the planning stage here, so get into the mind of your customers and keep making notes. What will your audience be interested in? What will make them want to keep reading? What will make them want to buy? Gain trust quickly by overcoming any obvious questions or objections by empathising and tackling them head-on, turning them into benefits and features. For example, if your product is more expensive than your competitors’, you might use a sales flash within the copy that overrides that objection i.e. ‘Guaranteed To Last Twice As Long And Save You £££s!’. And don’t forget to use emotional content to create desire, by selling the sizzle and not the sausage – most people buy emotionally and then justify it rationally afterwards.
3. Gather your thoughts and bring your plans together.
You’re still making notes here, but should be starting to understand how your copy is going to be structured by bringing your thoughts together into some kind of shape.
- The Headline Hook – grab ‘em or they’re gone!
- Sub headlines – tell them the features and benefits… build interest and inspiration.
- Main copy – paint a picture or tell a story to help build emotional content.
- Key features and benefits – tell them the benefits again… use bullet points if necessary.
- Call to action – don’t forget to sell, calling on your audience to act immediately.
4. Now for the writing part – the first draft.
Remember your structure and write clearly and in plain English (assuming you’re writing in English, of course)! The tone you use in your copy needs to be consistent with the brand, but generally speaking (unless you’re writing technical copy), use a conversational tone, keeping it light – but be specific and try to avoid jargon. Get to the point – audience interest is easily lost, so don’t waffle. And, to keep the copy skipping along, use short sentences and appropriate punctuation.
5. Bronze, Silver… then Gold.
To write good copy you need to be relaxed and in the right frame of mind. Don’t feel under pressure to write golden copy during the first draft. Copywriting is about ‘drafting and crafting’. It’s an art (with a little science), so be creative and be brave – you can always edit later! Sleep on it – or at least put it down for a few hours before completing it – and check grammar and spelling carefully. If you can, get a colleague to comment/critique, but be careful not to get too caught up in subjective critique – after all, you’re writing for your customers, not your colleagues! If you’ve got time, put it down and go back to it a few times, but know when to finish. You’ll know when you’ve hit gold, so don’t feel tempted to become subjective yourself.
6. Interest and inspire to create desire!
Use AIDA and MASLOW tools as you plan and make notes – they are both very powerful when used correctly… and don’t forget to run your copy through the EGOMETER before you publish. You can find links to these below:
What is AIDA? Click here
What is MASLOW? Click here
As for the Egometer – it is just a simple tally of the number of times you’ve used pronouns like me/my/our Vs. you/your/yours etc. The ‘you’ and your’ should outweigh the ‘me’ and ‘my’ by at least 2-1. Remember, you’re writing for your customers (or potential customers), so don’t write about how great you are, but how what you have to offer can benefit them.
7. Don’t forget to sell, sell, sell!
Yes, that dreaded four-letter word: SELL. Don’t panic! While many out there will tell you that selling is about creating or allaying fear, it doesn’t have to be. A simple, appropriate and timely call to action within your copy will often suffice, i.e. buy now while stocks last, or, order today and get 10% off… etc. Additionally, if you’re writing for the internet, now is the time to start checking your work against Google’s keyword planner to enhance your copy for SEO and start creating hyperlinks with the appropriate anchor-text.
About the author: Andrew Whittaker
Andrew Whittaker is an experienced business consultant and marketer who started his career as co-founder of a direct marketing agency, providing services to many of the UK’s leading brand names. During this time, he became a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (MCIM) and was a founder member of the UK Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Andrew now provides business consultancy and ‘new economy’ coaching services to companies large and small – contributing to their commercial success while continually adding to his expertise and knowledge across a wide range of industry and business disciplines.