To Write Your Own Copy or Not to Write Your Own Copy - That is the Question
If you haven't yet learned to discern good copy from bad copy, you will have a
difficult time writing your own. Tim, a graphic designer friend of mine, recently
learned the difference when he tried to write his own web copy.
Tim had a phenomenal website. His work was not only the best in the state, but the
best in all the surrounding states. He had done high-end graphic work for a number
of national clients. But suddenly the work dried up.
Tim asked me to take a look at his website to tell him what I thought, not of his
web copy, but of his work. However, being a professional copywriter, Tim's real
problems glared out at me. His work was great. His copy sucked.
Not only was Tim's copy filled with spelling and grammar errors, but most of it was fluff.
He included copy just to fill space, ignoring the fact that potential clients would want
substantial information that could not simply be provided in samples of his work.
Tim made all the mistakes of a novice copywriter: awkward sentences, too much
technical jargon, misused words and punctuation, and the worst mistake that any
copywriter can make, lack of clarity and failure to communicate. If copy doesn't
communicate there is no purpose in it's existence. The number one communication
barring culprit is unclear writing and confusing ideas.
When you write your own copy, keep in mind that, just because you know what you're
thinking doesn't mean anyone else will. Most people can't get away with simply
writing what they think. It's better to consider what your audience needs to hear.
Highly skilled copywriters follow approximately seven basic guidelines. They may not
follow all of them all of the time, or they may follow all of them all of the time.
But you can be assured that they follow at least some of the seven all of the time:
1. Know Your Audience - Society is broken into different demographics: men, women,
teenage girls, teenage boys, single moms, working moms, middle aged men, business
people, Gen Xers, etc. The tone and focus of your copy depends on which
demographic you need to target.
Before you even begin to write your copy, you must ask yourself:
Who will be interested in my product or service?
Why will they be interested (Price, delivery,
performance, reliability, service maintenance, quality efficiency, etc...)
What motivates the buyer?