One of the key skills all Internet marketers need to learn is how to write clearly in a way that easy to follow and understand. That skill is copywriting.
Many of the rules we learned in school about writing do not apply to copywriting, because copywriting has a different purpose. The purpose of copywriting is to influence readers to read your ads and take some sort of action, hopefully becoming a customer. Therefore, your writing needs to be conversational, like you’re talking one-on-one with your reader.
There are 6 “tricks of the trade” Robert Bly, who wrote The Copywriter’s Handbook, says will help make your writing conversational and easier to read and follow. The 6 tricks are:
1. End with a Preposition. Prepositions are words like with, of, and for. Prepositions make your writing conversational instead of formal.
An example in The Copywriter’s Handbook is “He’s the kind of fellow with whom you love to have a chat.” Most people would find that kind of writing awkward because it’s a formal and proper. I feel like I should be dressed up drinking tea and eating crumpets when I read it.
Instead write like how we say things when we talk. Robert Bly suggests writing “He’s the kind of fellow you love to have a chat with.” I would probably write, “He’s the kind of guy you would love talking to.”
2. Use Sentence Fragments. This is one of those rules you get a bad grade for in high school English. But in copy writing it keeps your sentence short and can add “drama and rhythm” to your writing.
3. Begin sentences with conjunctions. This is a rule I was taught not to do (or at least avoid as much as possible) in English classes. Turns out it’s okay to use conjunctions in copywriting. Use words like and, but, or, and for at the beginning of a sentence. Conjunctions make for smoother transitions.
4. Use One-Sentence Paragraphs. This is pretty much straight forward. One-sentence paragraphs can add drama and change the pace of your writing. I recommend, however, you use one-sentence paragraphs strategically. I have read writing that was full of one sentence paragraphs and I felt like I was being jerked around. The choice is yours though.
5. Use Graphic Techniques to Emphasize Words or Phrases in the Copy. Use underlining, italics, capitalization, or highlighting to emphasize key words and phrases. The type of graphic techniques you use is up to your imagination. This is a great technique for people who like to skip around when reading. But again, use sparingly.
6. Use Bullets. I used bullets a lot when I was in the Air Force for all kinds of writing. And bullets are considered to be one of the most effective techniques for writing copy. However, bullets take some skill. In my Air Force experience you included as much information as possible in the shortest amount of words. In copywriting, you have to make sure you’re not giving away too much information. You still need to provide enough, though, to create curiosity.
I hope these tips help you with your copywriting. Just remember to put aside the rules you learn in English. And if you’re like me, you can stop critiquing all the ads you come across like you’re an English teacher…
Happy Business Building,