The purpose of any piece of writing is to get what you’ve written read.
Just like I am hoping you continue to read this since it has a lot more than just great copy on offer.
Purpose – As much as we enjoy the use of words that appear to be smart, we need to bear in mind that if it is not understood, its use is not smart copy. What is the primary purpose of your headline, your graphics, your fonts, and every other part of the content? For the visitor on your site to stay on, beyond a couple of seconds.
A very simple yet pertinent observation by the legendary copywriter and direct marketer Joe Sugarman – Every element of copy has just one purpose — to get the first sentence read. “And the purpose of the first sentence is to get the second sentence read,” he continues. And so on, down the path that leads to your offer and the sale.
Pace – The content should be paced suitably. It is important to have a structure around what you are writing, especially if it is to persuade or sell. Many times we find ourselves so eager to get to the point we forget that the very essence of making a persuasive point (or causing any action) is how we get there. Anyone reading it should be able to see the natural progression and then the conclusion. Step by step.
Steps – Some guidelines to what could be a potential structure to your copy intended to persuade or sell –
Focus on the reader – In the headline and the opening paragraph, tell the readers what is in it for them. Why should they continue reading?
The narrative should have a compelling idea and purpose, in keeping with the initial hook. In short, don’t digress and steer away from the point. Stick to the plan.
Be specific by way of statements and make sure to give “reasons why.” General statements that are unsupported by specific facts just take up space and have little or no impact.
Demonstrate credibility wherever possible with the aid of simple statistics, expert references and testimonials. You need to know what you are talking about and if you are not an existing expert then be prepared for a crash course. Research is key.
Whether you’re selling a product or an idea, you’ve got to explicitly make an offer to the reader and be specific about what the offer holds for the reader if he were to become a buyer.
Sum it up and relate it back to the original hook thereby ensuring that it translates into a genuine offer worthy of the reader’s consideration.
Familiar Format – Copy is best when it is conversational. You can also deviate a little from the occasional rule of grammar if it helps to make your copy an easier read. Sentence fragments, one-sentence paragraphs are all permitted provided there are no spelling mistakes. Use bullets and numbered lists wherever possible. Long endless paras of text can be daunting and not too effective. The recall value is better with bullets.
Verbs over adjectives – Verbs tend to be more specific and are harder to ignore. Adjectives tend to be just descriptive. For example the use of adjectives would read like – The lady is intelligent, hard-working, and truly insightful. The use of verbs would read like – She is the founder of a successful company and leads a team of talented people. Actions trump fluffy words.
Long v/s short copy – Depends on the appended –
Product – the more features and benefits a product has, the longer the copy.
Audience – Certain people want as much information as they can get before making a purchase. Especially people buying stuff online.
Purpose – Lead generation for business requires less detail, but ads aimed at making sales must overcome every doubt a potential buyer may have.
As long as it holds people’s interest long copy can do no damage. If you do not fall in any of the aforementioned categories then concise copy is a no brainer. Make every word tell.
On a concluding note – TYPOS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. Proof reading your copy is NOT OPTIONAL. If you are not up to re-reading it then don’t subject the world to it.