Writing a college paper is NOT the same as copywriting for a living.
Well, effective copywriting for a living, that is. The kind of copy people read, enjoy, remember and are motivated to do something in response.
Unfortunately, many never learn that difference which leads to a lot of really bad content.
What’s the key to successful copywriting – the kind that grabs the reader’s attention and motivates them to act? Well here are a few things I’ve learned over the years that should help.
Keep it conversational.
Imagine that what you are writing is actually what you are saying to someone over coffee. That means you should use their tone and manner. And stay away from your company’s jargon.
Some will argue “don’t be too focused on closing a sale” and that has its merits – but if that person is in the later stages of their decision-making process, and
Ask questions – and have a way to hear the answers.
Again, it should be a conversation rather than a lecture so ask questions in your copy. This helps get the reader engaged. It gets their mind working and focused.
I write a lot of copy for lead management/nurturing and this is a critical time to ask questions and capture the answers so a business can more effectively qualify and prioritize the leads. (It saves them a lot of time and money!) But the challenge is getting the process to work so that the prospective customer’s responses are heard and used to drive action.
Sometimes the answers will go unheard and that’s a shame. A missed opportunity. But still, the importance of asking questions in the copy so that the reader is drawn in and becomes more involved and engaged…well, that’s key.
Humans make mistakes so leave your impersonation of the “Grammar Police” outside the door. Now I realize that my higher ed clients with all their advanced degrees are coming out of their chairs at this one but they need to remember what their students’ papers look like – then they will agree that sweating over the proper usage of the Oxford comma in an email to a prospective student might not be worth the time and effort. (That said, if you’re teaching a Business Law class, spend some time on Oxford comma so those future lawyers don’t get caught making this mistake later in their careers.)
Storytelling is nice – but great copywriting must be relevant.
Over the years, I have worked with some great writers – and I have read some incredible work.
I have also worked with the other end of the scale and seen what bad writing really is and a lot of it gets created under the guise of “storytelling”.
Great stories draw the listener/reader into the action, the comedy, the storyline. They feel engaged, entertained and informed. You want that to happen. To make that connection.
But when the story rambles on and on, never really making a relevant point to the audience – well, you have a failure and a lost opportunity to build that relationship with the audience.
Bringing it all home.
A great many want copy that educates, lectures the audience.
“We are the best because…”
“We have the fastest…”
“Ours is the best…”
Know your audience. Know what they want and need. Perceive and expect.
Focus on what benefits they will enjoy. Features are boring, but ‘what’s in it for me’ is exciting!
And the presentation is still important. So, be entertaining because they want to be associated with those they find entertaining.