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Back to school

20 copywriting tips

It’s easy to work out in your head what you want to say.
Putting it down in writing is often another thing altogether.

Use these tips next time you’re writing your marketing materials, and see the difference in
the results!

1. Write for your audience

Try to picture the average person in your audience. Think about what their day is like. Think
about what's important to them. What are they passionate about? How old are they? The
more you empathise with your audience, the more targeted and relevant your copy will be.

2. Establish a unique selling point

Why should your customer buy your product or service? What's in it for them? Why is your
product better than your competitor’s? What sets you apart? The more your offer stands out
from the competition, the better your chances of getting a response.

3. What is your objective?

What's the purpose of this marketing material? What action are you trying to get the reader
to take? You need to be clear on this before you start writing. If the answer isn't clear to you,
it certainly won't be clear to your reader.

4. Use the right tone

Tone of voice is all important, whether speaking to an audience or writing to one. Depending
on your audience and goals, decide whether your tone needs to be light hearted and
entertaining, personable and warm, polite and professional, or factual and concise. Your
writing tone and style should represent your business and your brand.

5. Look at other materials

Start collecting and analysing marketing to see what works and what doesn’t. Can you see
any common elements and strategies in the successful pieces?

6. Write like you are speaking with one person

Visualise yourself having coffee with one person from your target audience. Write the way
you would chat to them. It’ll have twofold benefits: firstly, you’ll spill your ideas on the paper
more naturally and quickly; secondly, the readers will feel as if you’re talking to them, and
they will listen. Be wary of slipping into a formal style, thinking it makes the message sound
important. On the contrary, it makes the writing stiff and unattractive.

7. Keep it short and simple

Long copy is boring and readers may soon lose interest. The rule of thumb is to keep your
copy as short as possible and as long as necessary. Short sentences create interest, as do
short paragraphs. Jargon and slang should be avoided -- unless relevant to the audience.

8. Make your writing strong

Use verbs rather than adjectives. Writing is often padded with a lot of adjectives; make yours
punchier by using words of action. Avoid “weasel words” such as may, maybe, hope, wish,
try, but, could, perhaps and strive. Instead, using words like will and can give more
confidence to the reader. Avoid a passive voice that weakens the message. For example,
instead of writing “We were selected to be the sole supplier”, use “We are the sole supplier”.

9. The WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) factor

Use WIIFM in everything you write. Your writing should focus on the things the customer is
interested in. Focus on the product and benefits, rather than the company. Use the words you
and your, rather than we and us. For example, instead of “we offer a wide selection of
products” use “you will find a wide selection of products”.

10. Focus on the benefits over the features

Will this product/service make your readers’ life easy, will it save them time, will it make
them look younger and more beautiful? The “amazing features” are what create the benefits,
so give your readers answers to the WIIFM questions. If you are having trouble getting to the
benefit, describe a feature and then write, “what this means to you is…”

11. Save time rather than money

Research indicates that asking customers to compare prices is a bad idea but that selling
time savings is far more effective for most companies. This approach typically leads to more
favourable attitudes and more purchases. Showing you value what customers hope to
achieve is far more genuine and effective than trying to sell them on bottom-dollar prices.

12. Play devil’s advocate

Create strong copy that addresses customer issues head-on. Writing that is framed in the
“devil’s advocate” question/answer style is more likely to persuade listeners to support the
original argument rather than disagree. Potential flaws and concerns are raised and
addressed directly by the writing. Try pointing out common concerns that customers may
have and then provide facts and evidence to prove they have nothing to worry about.

13. Start off with a bang

Many more people read the headline than they do the body text. That means the headline
has to really make an impression, so lead with a strong benefit. The first paragraph should
also be short and interesting, to draw the reader further in. For impact, start with an
intriguing question, a startling fact or an outrageous claim. Write five to ten different
headlines to see what works best. Also, you may find that it's easier to write a headline after
you've written the body copy.

14. Use bullet points

Lists are a great way to simplify large amounts of text, making the reading less onerous for
the audience. Don’t overdo it, though.

15. Include customer quotes

If you have a great customer quote, include it in your marketing materials A brief and
convincing quote can add credibility to your campaign. The more real you can make the
person to your readers, the better. Including their name, what city or state they live in and
even a photo can a great way to communicate the value of your service.

16. Back up what you say

Give what you say credibility by quoting statistics, testimonials, research findings,
endorsements and credentials

17. Create a sense of urgency

Appeal to your audience’s emotions whenever you can. Create a feeling of urgency due to
anticipation or fear of missing out, but ensure the sense of urgency is genuine by using
phrases such as “act now,” “limited time only” or add other elements of urgency.

18. Include a call to action

Your marketing materials should have one simple call to action. It should be the final part of
your marketing strategy to encourage the audience to take positive action. Whether it be to
visit your website, buy the product or contact the company to speak to a sales representative.
Make sure you have clear, visible instructions on how to take the next step.

19. Clean it up

After writing is finished, read it out loud. Have someone else read it to see if they understand
the message and the call to action. Cut unnecessary words, consolidate ideas and cut the text
down to at least half of what you started with.

20. Seek help

Of course, if you’re struggling with the writing, seek help. Maybe it’s time to get a
professional copywriter on board.
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