How to Write Winning Copy (And Why Maybe You Shouldn't Try)
Folks, this has been a busy month, hence my lack of recent blog posts. But this is a new week! And we're going to start it off right. So let's delve into a question I've been asked a lot lately. As a business owner, a non-profit professional, or even a burgeoning freelance writer, how does one write effective copy? How can you communicate your very important information effectively? How can you convert text into sales or donations?
The answer to these questions is surprisingly simple. It's also surprisingly tough.
How can you write winning copy? Communicate clearly? Convert effectively?
Write simply. I mean that literally.
Use short, simple sentences. Avoid run-on sentences, lots of clauses, and too much description. You're not writing a novel. You're writing a sales letter. Or an advertorial. Or whatever it is that you're writing. You want your language to be clear, concise, and conversational. It should be easy to understand. It shouldn't be fancy.
This might be a shock. The simpler your copy it is, the more ordinary, bland, and boring it is too, right? It won't stand out from the crowd this way. No one will notice or remember it, right?
The average person is bombarded with a completely insane amount of information everyday. It's overwhelming. As a result, the information that successfully plants itself in a person's mind has to be easy to digest and understand. The average person isn't going to take the time to read your lengthy, rambling copy, no matter how creative it is. It's just too much work. So, if you want your copy to be effective, keep it simple.
Now, that's an easy enough answer, right? How hard can it be to write simply? Actually, it's pretty hard. At least for the vast majority of people.
The fact of the matter is, most folks aren't writers. They're doers. They don't have the time or the inclination to sit down and write about all the great work they've been doing. Instead, they'd rather just get down to business. That's great--these people are a multifaceted, multi-talented bunch. I admire the hell out of them.
But when they try to write their own copy?
Not so much.
It's fairly easy to spot copy that's not written by a professional writer. Troll around the Internet a bit yourself, and you'll see it right away. Some websites, blogs, etc. are written in such a way that you want to keep reading, you remember the information, and at the end, you're filled with confidence. You know that this is the real thing. You might even want to pull out your wallet, depending on the goal of the copy in front of you.
But the sites that aren't written by pros? At best, they're boring or unclear. At worst, they sound like pure spam. Either way, you're not filled with much confidence after reading--if you got through it at all. These aren't the sites that inspire you to fork over some cash. Instead, they're the ones that get your mind worrying about identity theft.
This holds true for print media as well. An unprofessional sales letter is an ineffective sales letter. Now apply that rule to catalogs, brochures, white papers, e-Books, ads, and whatever other written materials you need to grow your business, and you'll quickly realize how important professional level writing is for your livelihood.
Now, this isn't to say that all business owners are incapable of writing their own copy. Some are. I can think of a handful of these people right now--the folks who are skilled writers in addition to being shrewd politicians, entrepreneurs, or fundraisers.
If you're one of these people, stop reading this blog post right now. You've got everything under control.
As for the rest of you? Maybe pass your writing jobs along to someone else. Because the task of writing simply, isn't so simple.