Friday, March 25, 2011

Appeal - do you have it?

How do you know? 

At some point when you write something - anything in fact - a few readers aren't going to appreciate it. Perhaps they won't understand what you're trying to communicate, maybe it's in some way offensive, or they just plain don't like your style!  But it's going to happen sometime.

The key?  Keep your target audience in mind at all times and go with the client's opinion - how they want you to write.  Writing a sales letter for the latest computer hardware?  Target the intelligent, professional, maybe slightly geeky (sorry) crowd.  They probably have money waiting for the newest, must-have gadget, they certainly want the latest updates in a rapidly changing world and they want status amongst their peers. 

So appealing to that person could be about:
  1. How they will stand out from the crowd,
  2. Being the first one to use it,
  3. Saving them time because this hardware can do so much more than previous versions. 
Pretty soon you'll have their attention.  Telling them it looks nice on the desk, or that it's made from recycled yogurt pots probably wouldn't appeal to that particular market, but hey, it might work for someone into aesthetically-pleasing goods that are good for the environment.

Target audience is important - keep them in mind throughout!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Building trust when writing copy

One of the hardest things we have to do as a copywriter is build trust - in a relatively short space of time and words. It is true that people tend to believe things that they see written down. They take it for granted that a great deal of research has gone into writing the piece before them, so therefore it must be true.

But, when you're trying to make them part with cash - you need a little more. Think about it:
  • We don't have the benefit of speech/gestures to allow clients to warm to us.
  • We need style and pizazz just to make them read past the headline.
  • We also need to sell them a product or service - reasonably quickly.
And on top of all that, we need trust - or the customer will suspect it's just about taking their money.

So how do we build trust? We need to show why we are qualified in that particular subject.
If you're a mechanic, maybe you've had five years experience on a certain model of car; as a plumber, perhaps you're the leading authority in a new pipe sealing method.

Whatever your silver-lining happens to be, work it out and then find a way of integrating it within the copy. Make it natural and let each paragraph roll into the next. If it's a pleasure to read, the client will take it all in and the bridge between the both of you is built.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Ooh, touchy subject - and with good reason.

Cliches in copywriting are very often met with groans and disapproval, and why? Because they've been heard so many times before. Not much good if a client is looking for a unique piece...

So you need to think outside the box. Oops.

But do they work? Obviously they do (or did once), or they wouldn't be so well known in the first place, but can we seriously get away with using them now?
It depends, sometimes they look like a real cop-out - as if you couldn't be bothered to find the right words - and that will never do when selling your creativity. Your client deserves better.

However, although hard to believe, there are times when they fit perfectly and my advice is to ask yourself these questions:
  1. Would you enjoy reading it for the first time (and not laugh)?
  2. Would you buy a product if the spiel was cliched?
  3. Does it make your partner/friends cringe when they read it?
Trust your instincts, if you're doubtful, rewrite it. The feedback from your client will soon tell you if you made the right choice.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Copywriting - The How to Guide.

What is it? Why do we need it?

Firstly, great copy needs to engage your reader - draw them in. Give them what they want to hear. Make them want to read the first line, then the second, then the third...

Forget everything else for a moment and keep that in mind; if they're not reading it, you're not selling it. Like a good story, your reader will find it enjoyable and feel they're gaining or learning something.

Easy so far?

Hopefully. Now we need to add some extra aspects because a story, after all, is just a story. We need to use that story to try and sell something, and that takes a little more effort because we still want the customer to read, and ultimately enjoy, our copywriting.

Let's just say I want to sell you the latest navigation app for your Android or iPhone4. I could tell you how popular the app is, how much research and development went into it, why I think it's worth the money I want for it etc., but would that make you want it? Or make you buy it?

At this point, you'd probably only buy if you actually needed it - for a specific reason or element of the app itself. Otherwise, there's loads of navigation apps out there so why pick that particular one?

But if I could include a few benefits of the app within the story (copy), you might be a little more intrigued. Let's dream a little and imagine my app gave you the ability to teleport yourself anywhere around the world? Yes, we're in cloud cuckoo land but teleporting is a major benefit, and that in itself would probably make everyone on the planet want to buy it. 

So the headline could read something like

Teleport Yourself Anywhere at Anytime for $4.99 

We now have everyone's attention! 

The reader might not yet fully believe it (I wouldn't), but I'm willing to bet they'd read the next line just to check it out. Why? Because of the human need to find out for themselves, make sure they're not missing out on something. It's a strong emotion and, at this point, you have them where you need them - interested and wanting more.

Forget the English teacher's take on how a sentence should be structured and what goes where, concentrate instead on holding your reader while you fire a few more must-have benefits at them. 

OK, that's a start to the blog and you can expect more on the subject soon. 

Right, I'm off to invent my teleporter app.