Copywriting: 5 Golden Rules
A lot of us believe we can’t write. Maybe it’s because of mean teachers, or spell check, or those Grammarly ads that make it look like we’re all just rolling around on our keyboards in a state of abject illiteracy.
Luckily, copywriting, by which we mean writing for advertising and marketing, is about more than correct use of apostrophe’s (a fun grammar joke for you there). It’s about establishing tone, conveying a message, prompting emotion. Have you ever written an effective email, birthday card or passive-aggressive post-it note? Then these are already things you know how to do.
The rest is just polish and practice. The practice you’ll have to do yourself (sahrry), but we might be able to help with the polish. Whether you’re writing a company-wide email, a marketing brochure, a blog post or a tweet, here are a few top tips to help your copy pack that extra bit of punch.
1. What’s the point?
Before you down that pint of scalding coffee and charge headlong into a piece of writing, stop for a second and figure out what you’re actually trying to say. What is the one thing you want someone to understand when they read your copy?
It’s too easy to get wound up in verbal fluff, so rather than attack your keyboard as soon as you sit down, find your message and work backwards.
2. Keep it snappy
When people aren’t confident about what they’re saying, they fall back on lots of words. Instead of ‘our new product is aimed at young working women’ they say ‘our latest innovation touches the passion points of the vagina-centric millennial professional cohort’. Start with the simplest possible way of saying what you want to say, then add (considered!) flourishes from there.
3. Hello Thesaurus my old friend …
The same words repeated a few times in close proximity to each other are a shortcut to copy that sounds faltering and flat. Try to be creative with words and phrases so that you’re not repeating the same language again and again. Used ‘house’ in the previous sentence? Swap it for ‘home’ in the next. Already said ‘premium’ a couple of times? What about ‘luxurious’? ‘Elegant’? ‘Exclusive’? ‘Superior’?
4. Join the dots
It may be blindingly obvious to you why you’ve leapt dramatically from one brilliant thought to the next, but unless you make the link clear, your reader can be left feeling like you’ve chucked them off the side of a proverbial catamaran. It’s your job to guide them from one idea to the next. Figure out what paragraph A needs to say, what paragraph C needs to follow up with, and how paragraph B is going to carry us all (lovingly) from one to the other.
5. Team work = dream work ?✨
It’s a known fact among writers that any piece of copy, stared at for long enough, eventually becomes a potato. Or it might as well do, because you’re about as capable of properly reading or evaluating it as you are a prize spud. What you need is a second pair of peepers. Getting one person to read through your work before you ask a whole heap more to do the same is a no-brainer, really. Do they get the point you’re trying to make? Are there parts that trip them up? Use their feedback to polish your work into the shiny dream potato you know it can be.
And there you have it! Armed with these five golden rules (and spell check …) you will soon be a copywriting king or queen. (And then please don’t forget to give us a shout.)
This article is about: copywriting, copywriters, advertising marketing, brand comms
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