Writing copy, if executed well it will get you a catch; if done perfectly you can control a mind like a quack hypnotist.
The power of words is unfathomable. Words are the unconditional means of communicating past a primordial level.
Words, when used correctly in your marketing campaign will seal you a deal, make an audience beg for more while immortalising your brand in timeless amber.
‘Va va voom’
‘Just do it’
‘At sixty miles an hour the loudest noise comes from the electric clock’
With exception to the last one, I can guarantee that you instantly recognised the company or advert that adopted these slogans.
You see, although a company’s advertising campaigns will die and be re-born to keep up with an ever-changing audience; excellent copy is immortal.
Hence why you recognised the quotes above.
Websites have become effervescent springs of creativity. It is now mandatory for every company to have a website, it is even more mandatory for a company to have a good website, visually speaking. This is logical, as humans we judge by first impressions.
But once the visual awe has passed and the customer is debating whether or not to make a purchase, it’s the product description and the ‘buy now’ call-to-action that will seal the deal.
Once a customer has left your site, they won’t be able to recommend it by just describing the visual elements; catchy names and catchy slogans are key.
You can judge a website by its copy. If a website looks downright visually offensive you instantly leave it. Bad copy on the other hand is not always as obvious, but you will know when you are reading it.
Bad copy is a pernicious element of so many company websites that will cripple a business- you wouldn’t speak to a client in a clumsy manner, so why ‘speak’ to potential clients like it.
The point of this article is not to tell you what to do when composing copy, rather a consideration of elements that make good copy, with some good examples that have paved the way before.
Let your company speak.
Your slogan: sink or swim
A slogan is the single most important element of a company’s branding. Even if your company is honestly terrible at delivering it’s product, with a catchy (or even a horribly annoying) slogan people will remember you.
This will undoubtedly lead to recognition. People want convenience, after working all day and having little time to actually browse a market, one will usually go for the brand that comes to mind first.
An effective slogan will stick, even if a person does hates it; it will stick and amuse thus leading to recognition and sales. A compelling slogan will cover for the rest of your content. If you start with a ‘bang’ a reader will read on. Then if your copy is good, an audience will be convinced. If your copy is bad, the slogan may have just saved you.
Examples have proven that strong onomatopoeia’s or call to demands work. How many times have you ‘just do(ne) it’ and bought a pair of Nikes or as a child demanded a particular cereal that ‘snapped, crackled and popped’, and of course, have you ever ‘go compared?’
Target your Audience
I don’t know the rules of grammar’ If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular. -David Oglivy
When composing the body copy of your site, you have to connect with a reader. Bombarding them with pitch after pitch and rhetorical questions will not engage them throughout, more-so it may actually alienate them and make your intentions to sell feel far too pushy.
Interaction with your audience is vital, but interaction should be on their level. At the end of the day, you want your customer more than they want you; they don’t know that they need your service but you know you need their sale. Coming across as too pushy to make a sale can make you look like a crook.
Therefore you need to negotiate on their level. Interact with them on their level. In your copy, engage and empathise, show them you have been where they are you have the solution. Ok, so you have a company persona to maintain but ‘pride goes before destruction’ as they say, so get on the clients level. This can take many forms, adoption of vernacular, engaging in a conversational tone and so on, but this all takes the form of knowing your client.
To know your client you have to be your client. So do your research, ‘be’ in their situation and think how what you are trying to sell helped you out.
Words: Less is More
Nielson Norman Group’s incredibly insightful study signified that 79% of people ‘scan’ a site and only 16% read it entirely.(link) So in short, your audience are not going to read all of your content. Due to this you really have to hit the words that will be read home.
This means that brevity is absolutely necessary. An example of this that I absolutely love is La Puima.
Visually this website is just stunning, which does add to the credibility of the site. Noticeably there is hardly any copy and in some cases there doesn’t always need to be, but what’s here is just fantastic.
Look at the question; ‘Do you want to learn to fly’?- who on earth doesn’t want to learn to fly. The copy is short, it addresses the reader and gives them an offer they cannot refuse and tells them how they will deliver it; in less than 25 words.
It drives straight to the point without being rude about it. It entices the reader gently with the offer of an experience that meets a universal dream and ends with the call of action, ‘Open your wings’. It’s a game of ping-pong between the provider and the consumer, opening with a question and closing with the solution.
What you write leads to treasure, map it well
This has become an absolute necessity for the copywriter in the vein of blogging and web-content. Gone are the days where a copywriter would bang on a typewriter and forward it to the design team to do their magic.
When writing a piece you need to consider how a reader will read it. Therefore layout acts as a way to lead a reader round your text. For example
as well as,
As do isolated bold titles for quotes
Sections cut into subtitles.
Also, consider context. Who are the target audience of your text? What are their expectations? Take this one for example, Business Report switched from a print based publishing to digital publishing. Logically the copy format has taken the form of the newspaper. It’s suited for context, the layout is considerate and suited to its purpose and audience.
Also, one statistic can save you a hundred words. Sometimes it’s just not enough to merely convince someone that what you are writing is true. Sometimes people need more convincing; hence stats.
People love statistics and figures. It provides them with the confirmation that they need to make that purchase, or to keep them in with the crowd; ‘if 78% of England does it, maybe I should to’.
By providing a few decent pieces of statistical information in your text you are giving your claims some integrity; something to provide it support. Claims are only as good as the evidence that backs them up, and if you can’t back up that claim with evidence no one your not going to convince anyone.
Bad grammar spells un-professional-ism
Believe it or not, one of the world’s biggest ironies is that writers suffer the most from bad spelling and grammar.
You will be even more surprised to see how many websites have utterly terrible spelling and grammar all over their content.
It seems a flippant issue, but you really have no idea how terrible it looks on your website.
Bad spelling and grammar is inexhaustible, due to the fact that computers have spell checks now, bad spelling and grammar gives an impression of brusqueness, laziness and overall lack of care.
That will rub off on a potential client; if they see you can’t put the time in to even take care of your own website, how on earth are you going to provide them with decent service.
So, writer, do you copy?
The most important factor of copywriting is being ambitious. This doesn’t mean aim for the stars and all the sentimental spiel. You need to be realistic. All the points above are based on realism, know your client, know your company, know the product; in fact know everything you can and then you can add your element of creativity to it.
Strive to always be a better writer than you are today.
If you go into a project relying purely on your own premonitions and content of your writing ability you will not be able to succeed in delivery
Good writing takes time, practice and a lot of work sent back to you but that doesn’t mean giving up after the first hurdle.
Take all the advice on board and use it, read the masters and read them again.
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