Techniques for Writing Excellent Copy
Creating informative, compelling, and valuable copy for your marketing materials isn’t simply a matter of knowing your own product and being able to write grammatically correct sentences. It takes knowing the exact needs of your customer base, as well as how to quickly and effectively communicate your message in a way that solidly resonates with them.
However, many times businesses are so close to their own products and industry that it becomes difficult to decipher which information is important, relevant, or understandable to your audience. There are several key questions to ask at the beginning of the copywriting process to hone in on the right message, tone, and delivery for your marketing messages. Here are a few basic examples.
1 - Who is my exact audience?
It sounds very basic, but many times businesses have not defined their specific marketing audience. “Everyone,” or “Men,” or “Business owners” are much too broad of a definition to create any sort of compelling message that leads to action. Be specific. One good idea is to create a proxy profile of the perfect customer, hang that customer profile up, and then write directly to that person. The content and messages you create should be specifically for that customer profile; anything that falls outside that target area – even if it is information you might think is useful – should tell you that your message is not targeted correctly or precisely enough. Your marketing copy should be focused and clear, not general and all encompassing.
"It sounds very basic, but many times businesses have not defined their specific marketing audience." (CLICK TO TWEET)
2 - What message do I want to tell my audience?
Now that you have your ideal customer profile, you need to decide what to tell them. It is decidedly difficult to whittle down everything you want to say about your business, but it’s important that each marketing campaign has a singular idea – a focal point of a message that will resonate. Then stick to that one point.
3 – Cut. Then cut again.
Brevity isn’t just the soul of wit, as the saying goes. It’s the key to effective marketing communication. Keep headlines to a minimum amount of words. Body copy should be short and efficient. Don’t be robotic about what you say, but chose direct and impactful words. Edit, then edit again. Ask, “What is the one thing I want my customer to take away?” Remember: as the amount of text goes up, the chances anyone will read it will go down.
"Remember: as the amount of text goes up, the chances anyone will read it will go down." (CLICK TO TWEET)
4 – Run it past someone, but avoid committee.
You shouldn’t create your marketing copy in a vacuum, but writing by committee is the fastest way to denude your materials of any and all efficacy. Soliciting input from outside sources can and will be helpful, but it’s important to draw a distinction between someone who has an opinion and someone who has a say in the final product. Having a clearly defined set of eyes on the marketing copy will not only streamline the process, but keep your message direct and clear, based on the research you have already done.
5 – Hire a professional.
Great copywriting can be so good that it looks like anyone can do it. Headlines are usually only 5-7 words after all, and that website only had a paragraph – how hard can that be? But great copywriting, just like any other industry specialty, is a skill. More often than not, companies that write their own web or marketing copy end up spending more time and money to get results that are far below what a professional could have offered in the first place. It would be a tragedy for a campaign to fail because everything was professional except the writing.
Effective copy is the backbone of any marketing campaign or website. It works in concert with other elements like programming and graphic design to create a complete package that effectively delivers the message necessary to increase your business.