Elements of Good Copy
Good copy, like all good writing, has basic elements that make it stand out from the rest. If your copy has all or most of these ten elements, it will set you apart as a top notch copywriter.
- You must grab the reader's attention and keep it long enough for them to get your message. This doesn't mean it has to be fancy or flashy, only that it has to draw the reader in.
- The message must be relevant to the reader. If you are a marketing writer for medical equipment, your readers are doctors and hospital administrators. They don't need to know the inner workings of the machine. But they want to know how it will make their job easier or save the hospital money.
- Promise a unique benefit. A benefit answers the question, "What's in it for me?" for the reader. Going back to the medical equipment example, a unique benefit could be that it speeds up diagnosis of certain ailments which helps doctors see more patients and make more money. You could also emphasize the increased number of lives saved by this new technology.
- You are marketing a product, but don't focus on it. Instead focus on the reader. Empathize with their difficulties and show them how the product can make their lives better. How it can ease or eliminate those difficulties. It's all about the reader.
- Keep your tone conversational. Good copy is written as though it were being shared with a friend. What would you say to your best friend about this product if you knew it would help make his or her life better? Write like you talk.
- Avoid fancy language and jargon. Keep your language simple and understandable to get your message across successfully. Again, how would you talk about this to your best friend? To a fourth grader? If either of them would have difficulty understanding your copy, it's too complicated.
- Check the flow of information in the piece. Is it logical? Does it go from point A to point B in a natural progression? It should.
- Good copy will inspire the reader to act. If the act is to call, the reader will pick up the phone. Know what you want the reader to do about the information you've provided and then tell what to do and how to do it.
- This element applies to all good writing. Make it clean and polished. Eliminate typos, grammatical mistakes and unnecessary words. Tighten it up as much as you can without losing the flavor of the piece.
- Your copy has to work well with the graphic elements of the final product. For instance, if you are writing a brochure, what you write has to fit well with the pictures, captions and layout of the final piece. It can't be too long. Or too short.
No one is born with the ability to write perfect copy. It comes from practice. You will excel at some of these elements and struggle with others. As long as you continue to work and make progress, you can succeed in copywriting.
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