17 copywriting tips that have stood the test of time

You don’t have to be the World’s greatest copywriter to get incredible results from your copywriting. But you must be prepared to learn new skills and to implement them with obsessive attention to detail. Start with these 17 tips; honed over my 33 year copywriting career and watch those responses rise.

  • Be prepared when inspiration strikes.  Record ideas and thoughts and revisit them when writing your copy.
  • Don’t stint on the time. Rushing a letter, whizzing through an advert in 10 minutes is a recipe for pouring money down the drain. Invest quality time including time to let your mind wander; time to scribble notes and bounce ideas off trusty folk.
  • Do your research! Get under the skin of your target audience. What are their deep underlying needs for your offering? Walk a mile in their shoes. Look at the landscape through their eyes.
  • What are the three most important needs you’re satisfying? Lead in your copy with these. Don’t over complicate with so many benefits you bamboozle readers.
  • Address all the barriers that could prevent your reader from buying? It is great to do this in a question and answer format.
  • Unsure about your target audience and their buying triggers/objections? Pick up the phone and ask. Invite a few to lunch.  Network where they network. Read their journals. Visit their websites.
  • Don’t get hung up on the ubiquitous USP if you don’t have one. Focus on communicating with clarity, integrity, relevance and enthusiasm. You don’t need a USP to be successful. Very few businesses do have one.
  • Stuck for a starting point? Visit a few competitor websites but remember there’s a world of difference in being inspired by and outright copying.
  • Don’t just consider your message, consider the communication too. Should you wrap this message in a blog or a letter? How about web news or your latest press release; your newsletter or brochure? Repurpose content. A great letter can be turned into a great press release if you take out the sales hype and stick to facts and figures.
  • Don’t fall into the short copy trap. If readers are genuinely interested in what you have to offer, you can write long copy with spectacular results provided it’s well written and relevant.
  • Avoid technical detail and stuffy language unless your audience gets high on it. Adopt a conversational style, easy to read with rhythm and pace; sufficiently jaunty to captivate readers.
  • Don’t boast! “We’re so delighted that we have taken on a new employee and are now the number one home sales’ business… our unrivalled reputation stretches before us… “Yawn. Better instead: “You’ll always get a friendly, prompt response and an accurate up-to-the-minute update on your property when you contact us.”
  • Experiment with words. A relevant but unusual word adds intrigue. “You’ll love our seasonally inspired eclectic menu.” Instead of “Try our seasonally inspired dishes”.
  • Recognise that people rarely make the decision to buy in isolation. What could have a positive or negative impact on their ability to do business with you? If times are tough you’ll need to demonstrate that you deliver exceptional value.  Should you bolster your benefits with powerful case studies? Will you move folk into action if you deliver juicy and compelling facts and figures that underpin your value proposition? Should you include genuine testimonial. I would say so…
  • Ask questions to maintain interest and break up paragraphs. “When did you last attend a copywriting workshop that really inspired you to go back to the drawing board?”
  • Be ruthless. If you’re standing back and admiring your work, you may be letting your ego get in the way of a much needed edit. As a general rule of thumb I edit my work at least three times before submitting it and I am a trained writer/author. Don’t stint on the red pen.
  • Have calls to action throughout your communication. Make it easy for the reader to know what to do next and how they can benefit from their association with you.  Should they go to your website/download your white paper/pick up the phone/email you/watch your videos/connect on twitter…. What is realistic to expect them to do if they do not have a relationship with you? Again stand in their shoes when creating your calls to action and have several so they can choose their preferred way of engaging with you.


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