- Write headlines that offer the main benefit clearly. Don't try to be smart, clever or tricksy. Or even 'intriguing'
- The public is not your market. It contains your market. So allow readers to decide quickly if you are speaking to them.
- Advertising is selling in print. If it doesn't sell, it isn't good advertising.
- Your advertising is a salesman. A mediocre salesman affects only part of your business. Mediocre advertising affects it all.
- Put your prospect into your headline, e.g. MEN! Can you grip spare flesh around your waist?
- Make your headline specific, e.g. Here's a 7-step low-cost way to double sales.
- Don't hide behind facts. They are neutral until they have been interpreted. Then they become information.
- Follow the sequence of persuasion. AIDA usually works
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- Use a 2-line subhead under the headline to increase readership. The subhead extends the promise of the headline.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- You need to persuade, so follow the disciplines of persuasion
- Use the language of the common man
- 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