Copywriting tip #2. Dwell on the headline
I could have called this blog ‘Five great copywriting tips to use’. It says pretty much the same thing, but it’s weaker for two reasons: one, it’s not a question, and two, it doesn’t have the word ‘you’ in it.
By asking ‘you’ a question, I’m bringing the reader into the conversation. Asking a question gives you an itch that you can only scratch by reading on. And it’s probably why you’ve read this far.
That’s the power of a good headline.
To paraphrase David Ogilvy, the most-quoted copywriter of all time, “The headline is 80 cents of the dollar.” It’s what grabs attention and makes you interesting.
And as Dave Trott, the second-most-quoted copywriter of all time, says, “In the pub, who do you want to listen to? The one who’s right or the one who’s interesting?”
“Being compelling is more important than being crawlable.”
These days, the need to demand attention has been stifled by the need to play it safe. Or, worse, by the Quest For SEO Domination, where being crawlable is more important than being compelling. SEO plays a part, of course – if you write the world’s best blog but no one reads it, you’ve just spent the day typing words into a black hole.
But even if you top Mount Google, if you’re not interesting, people won’t care. It’s not enough to be found, you’ve got to hook people in and keep them on the line.
And that starts with a good headline.
Copywriting tip #3. Know thyself
You know those tone of voice guidelines that some poor sap of a copywriter painstakingly crafted so your comms could sound distinctive, likeable and consistent?
You should use them.
Go on, rescue them from your recycle bin, blow off the (virtual) cobwebs and give them a read. Then start writing words that align with them.
‘We’re fun’ might say one of your values. Great. Except the last fun thing you wrote was the ‘Kick me, I deserve it’ Post-it you stuck on your boss’ back. In 1996.
Tone of voice guidelines aren’t just a box-ticking exercise you do once and then forget about forever, like replacing your car’s tyres. Tone of voice guidelines are for life. And if yours suggest – nay, demand – that you should be fun, then be fun.
Don’t forget, some serious thinking will have gone into working out that you should be fun. Or courageous or intelligent or empathetic or any number of characteristics. If you ignore that thinking, you’re throwing away that well-researched work, misrepresenting who you are and failing to stand out from the competition.
Copywriting tip #4. Tell a story
Everyone’s a storyteller these days. A brand storyteller, a visual storyteller, a strategic storyteller.
Not sure what I mean? Here’s a thing: go to LinkedIn and search ‘storyteller’ under ‘people’ and marvel at how many self-confessed Shakespeares are out there.
To say they’re ten-a-penny undersells the penny.
And it’s mostly nonsense. Nine times out of ten, the only time they’re telling stories is at their kids’ bedtimes.
“We read facts, we feel stories.”
But the exponential Rise of the Storyteller tells us something: that stories are powerful. Why? Because unlike facts and figures, which engage our left-sided logical brains, stories fire up our right-sided synapses – the ones that deal with emotion. Stories punch us in the guts, they make us feel brave, shocked, excited, adventurous, empowered.
In short, we read facts but we feel stories.
And, as luck would have it for us marketers, emotion also drives purchasing behaviours. So the same stuff that makes us feel things also makes us buy things. And that stuff is stories.
Copywriting tip #5. Give words visual oomph
As much as we might like to believe the opposite, a good copywriter knows interesting writing isn’t just about the words – it’s also about how the words look.
You’re competing with a billion other websites and opinions out there, so don’t give people an excuse to switch off. Hit ’em with that great headline, then make it easy for them to stay by making your words easy to read.
Doing that means using tricks like one-sentence paragraphs.
And snappy five-word sentences.
And, once your audience is invested, dropping in longer, more intricate sentences that might even run to 38 words, varying the flow and feeding in more complex pieces of information now you know the reader is on board.
(Not forgetting the use of the odd parenthesis.)
“Or breaking things up with quotes.”
From a blog to an advert, an email to a LinkedIn post, always consider how the words look as much as what they say.
Your readers will love you for it.
Want to know more copywriting tricks? We’ve got loads of them. But you’ll have to get in touch to find out what they are.