Today there is constant demand for content. Whether it be on social media, the radio or the last sheet of the toilet paper roll, people are looking to be engaged. And of course for great content, you need great copywriting. Here’s our list of 10 great copywriting tips that will help you grab your audience’s attention and connect them to your brand.
“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”
-Zora Neale Hurston
Before you write anything, you need to know what you’re writing about. Learn everything you can about the brand and product, read reviews online to see what people are saying and research the industry and the competition. You’ll get a good grasp on the basic information you need to pass along, plus you might stumble across an interesting insight that leads to a great idea.
2. Find the differentiator.
“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”
– Coco Chanel
What sets your product apart from others in the industry? Find the unique selling point, then write to that. When you think of Chipotle, what comes to mind? For most, it’s sustainable farming and fresh ingredients, because that’s how the brand markets itself. Yet it’s a quick service (or fast food in non-marketing speak) restaurant in the same category as companies like Subway and McDonald’s. Even though the industry is about affordable food and fast service, Chipotle doesn’t talk about that since everyone else in the industry can say the same thing. Discover what makes your product one-of-a-kind and focus your story around that.
3. Focus on benefits, not features.
“Good writing is suppose to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”
– E.L. Doctorow
So that new phone you’re pushing runs on an LTE network instead of 4G. That sounds cool, but what does that mean? How does that help consumers in their daily lives? It’s faster. Ok, but why does that matter? Well, maybe now you can be the first to buy tickets to that concert that sells out within two minutes, or you can make that rent payment that’s due at 5:00pm at 4:59pm. Instead of just listing features, write about how the product will actually help people.
4. Talk to your audience, not at them.
“If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face.”
The best ads are the ones that don’t seem like ads. They’re not screaming, “Hey! Buy my product! Do it! Do it now!” Instead, they have a conversation with the consumer. Think about the difference between a politician yelling her point at a debate and a politician trying to connect with voters on a late night talk show. One seems angry and arrogant; the other appears laid back and relatable (at least she hopes so). Keep your writing sincere and approachable. You’re not trying to win over consumers who don’t need your product – you’re simply explaining how this specific product solves specific problems.
5. Keep it short.
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
The more you can explain in fewer words, the better. It’s easier for people to remember. And the message will be much clearer because you’re looking for the exact right words to use to get your point across in a short amount of time.
6. Avoid the fluff.
“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
Often times we think adding in a few extra adjectives or adverbs enhances the copy. But what’s the difference between the best and the very best? Does “very” make that best better than best? Sometimes it’s difficult for writers to get straight to the point, as we love words and the poetry of language. But advertising is for the benefit of the consumer, not the writer.
7. Focus on one message.
“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”
It’s always tempting to pack 25 selling points into one ad, but people just aren’t going to read all of them. And forget about anyone remembering what your brand stands for. In an effort to say everything, you end up saying nothing. Pick the most important message to draw people in. If they’re interested in what you’re saying, they’ll ask for more information, and then you’ve created a conversation.
8. Write a lot.
“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Your first headline is not going to be your best. Nor, most likely, will your 50th. But just like anything else, the more you write, the better you’ll get. Eventually you’ll start condensing your ideas into a couple of words and get a feel for the voice of the brand. Of course, we’re all bogged down by deadlines these days, but if you can find the time to write 100 different lines of copy, your ad will be better for it.
9. Consistency is key.
“Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity.”
Whether you’re writing a billboard, social media post, radio spot or commercial, the tone and voice of your copy should be the same. If your print ads are sarcastic, your videos shouldn’t be sincere. You want consumers to immediately recognize your brand voice so they don’t confuse you with the competition. If you come up with a funny headline or killer pun, stop and think if it fits in with the overall messaging of the brand. If it doesn’t, don’t use it.
10. Find a proofreader.
“To write is human, to edit is divine.”
There’s nothing like writing a totally amazing ad, only to have a typo completely change the meaning. It’s crucial to edit your copy when you’re done, but it’s always better to have someone else do it too. Our brains tend to fill in the blanks for us, so you’ll see a word that’s missing if you know it’s suppose to be there. A fresh set of eyes will catch these mistakes and let you know when something doesn’t make sense.
Bonus tip: When you’re completely stuck and have no idea what to say – just start writing! Eventually you’ll get into the swing of things and maybe even stumble across a brilliant idea that defies all advice from this guide.