18 Copywriting Tips to Make Your Marketing Even Sharper

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Copywriting is much more than joined-up writing. It's the skill of persuasion in print. Whether you do your own copywriting or get someone else to do it for you, here are 18 things you need to know.
  1. Write headlines that offer the main benefit clearly. Don't try to be smart, clever or tricksy. Or even 'intriguing'
  2. The public is not your market. It contains your market. So allow readers to decide quickly if you are speaking to them.
  3. Advertising is selling in print. If it doesn't sell, it isn't good advertising.
  4. Your advertising is a salesman. A mediocre salesman affects only part of your business. Mediocre advertising affects it all.
  5. Put your prospect into your headline, e.g. MEN! Can you grip spare flesh around your waist?
  6. Make your headline specific, e.g. Here's a 7-step low-cost way to double sales.
  7. Don't hide behind facts. They are neutral until they have been interpreted. Then they become information.
  8. Follow the sequence of persuasion. AIDA usually works
  9. Use the language of daily speech, as if you were selling face-to-face. Read your text aloud. Would you speak like that to a prospect?
  10. In a sales letter, always have a PS, and put your special offer in there. Everyone reads the PS. Headline, PS, signature. That's what we read.
  11. Avoid analogies. If you write, "Like a Constable painting, our resort is peaceful ...", people don't make the connection. They think you are selling Constables.
  12. Use a 2-line subhead under the headline to increase readership. The subhead extends the promise of the headline.
  13. Limit your opening paragraph to 12 words. You need to reel them in gently. The sight of a long opening para will turn people off.
  14. For a direct response ad, you have 3.2 seconds to answer 3 questions: What is it? Is it for me? How do I get it? It has been measured.
  15. Always test. Write 2 approaches to the offer, and test them against each other before rolling out. Then use the stronger one and test against that.
  16. For email marketing, always use a salutation, even though the medium is less formal than letter writing. Use their names! Just don't overdo it, or it will seem patronising.
  17. Long or short copy? Make it as long as it takes to tell the story without needless repetition. First write what you want to say, then edit.
  18. Avoid long words. Do a character count, and take an average. You should average under 5 characters per word for plain speaking.

Above all, remember three things about copywriting:

  1. You need to persuade, so follow the disciplines of persuasion
  2. Use the language of the common man
  3. It's good only if it sells

Phillip Khan-Panni is a former Senior Copywriter at Reader's Digest, London, and Creative Chief of PKP Communications Ltd.
Now CEO of PKP Communicators.com


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Phillip Khan-Panni MBA is a professional speaker, author, trainer and coach.

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