The old adage “Everyone’s a writer”, while technically true, should more appropriately be amended to “Everyone’s a writer, but very few are great writers”. Clear, concise, compelling, conscious. These are the four C’s for writing great copy, the kind that stands head and shoulders above the vast plethora of mediocre copy that is often found strewn around various brands’ social media pages and mainline adverts.
There’s certain things that set a GREAT copywriter from the average and the slightly above-average. The four C’s I mention are elaborated on in this blog post and writers would do well to follow them. Keep in mind, though, that rules are made to be broken, and if the situation demands it, you shouldn’t shy away from veering away from the norms and doing something that’s completely different from what’s about to be discussed.
You risk alienating audiences and losing their trust if you beat around the bush and try to indulge in over-the-top, flowery, or otherwise ambiguous content. The best approach is to get to the point and be as direct as possible. Don’t have sentences that go on forever (the kind you might find in this article!) and don’t incorporate more than one idea into a sentence. Eliminate extra words and phrases that don’t add anything of value to a sentence. Also make sure you avoid jargon that might not be easily understood by a layperson (writing for tech or where the audience would definitely get the jargon is an obvious exception).
The attention span of readers is getting shorter every day, and even though readers will definitely read long copy or articles about subjects that interest them (such as you’re doing right now!), the general rule-of-thumb is, short is better. The more clear and concise your copy is, the better received by the audience it will be. This is almost universally accepted, especially for mainline advertising. Digital media, too, benefits from concise writing as users browse through pages so fast that long copy just won’t attract them as much as you’d hope, no matter how brilliant the content might be.
This is one aspect that is absolutely imperative: even if the copy is long, as long as it’s compelling to read, you’ll get results. Engage the reader by being informative, enticing, and highly appealing to the target audience. Offer proof to back up your claims, solutions to problems that your product or brand solves, and make sure to put the most important features or information at the very start in order to create a sense of urgency or to showcase the promise of the product. Use active verbs and avoid the passive voice wherever possible.
Without a doubt, the most important piece of the copywriting puzzle. You have to learn to walk in the customer’s shoes, to figure out exactly what they want and find ways to give it to them. Stay up to date with the latest in advertising, the latest trends and try to incorporate them whenever you can. Ask yourself what will go through the minds of the reader, what exactly you’re trying to convey, and whether the way you’ve chosen to express this would really fly with the target group. If you impress yourself with what you write, when viewed from the perspective of a consumer, chances are they will too.