You've got a dream.
You've got a brand.
You've got a product.
But that passion you have just isn't translating to consumers as it should.
No matter how passionate you are, or how well intentioned your messaging may be, you can't create the excitement your product truly deserves without great copy.
What is great copy?
Your copy is your call-to-action, it's the emotive spark that turns passive onlookers into excitable purchasers. Your descriptions, your adverts, and your statements should command attention!
If your content is dull, it could be game over.
Your product won't be discovered, and It won't be sold.
So how do we turn lackluster content into action-prompting copy?
Let's look at three examples of advertising copy for a new hot sauce:
1. Brother Wilfred's Hot Sauce, made with local Khmer chili peppers. The newest hot sauce in Phnom Penh.
2. Passion meets fire. Brother Wilfred's Hot sauce is packed full of local Khmer chili peppers, picked with love and infused with explosive fiery delight.
3. The Hot Sauce for Hot Sauce lovers. If you haven't tried Brother Wilfred's Hot Sauce yet, then your life isn't complete. Made with Khmer Chilis, don't attempt this sauce unless you're serious about heat.
All three examples appear to be acceptable, but the approach clearly varies. The first is very matter of fact, humble and perhaps fairly dull. However, when emotion is added (2), ideas unfold in the minds of readers. Finally, the third variation adds a sense of urgency- if you love hot sauce then you simply have to try this sauce. You can feel an increase in excitement with each statement. One additional trick the last statement baits people to try it as a show of bravado - if you can handle hot sauce, this is for you.
How do you create great copy?
Think about the best adverts you've ever seen, or read. Think about the best stories you've read in books or seen on tv. The art of storytelling is indeed an art, and the appeal of emotive language can be a difficult skill to master.
Research is always recommended. Perhaps you start by scouring the content of your most successful competitors, or creating proposed copy and exposing it to your target market for feedback.
Perhaps you'll create something truly great in-house, but being in safe hands is undoubtably advisable:
Hiring a skilled copywriter is the easiest solution. The best writers will have ample examples to showcase their work, ensuring you make an informed decision about who helps represent your brand.
But, what should you be looking for, to know that it's 'great' copy?
Underline the 'why'.
"We have hot sauce for sale" is the 'what'. It simply says what the product is.
"Our hot sauce unlocks flavor in so many dishes" tells us 'how'. We're encouraged how to use the hot sauce, perhaps the focus is on bringing out flavor in meals rather than simply being a condiment for fries.
'We only use Khmer chilis, and we donate 90% of proceeds to Cambodian farmers' - now we get a sense of 'why'. Customers are attracted to a story, a reason, a mind frame. Whether it's a CSR cause, a strong emotional or physical benefit, or even just a particular value - people are aligned to brands they resonate with.
The copy is the voice. It's the hook.
It all adds up: Whether you use long, flowing sentences, filled with sophisticated language and flowery adjectives; Or, short, snappy, excitable words; Whether you write in large, insightful paragraphs; or tease out tiny sentences.
Understand how your customer thinks, reflect them, and most importantly, make your content relatable to them.
Your products and services are for the customer, not for your own profiteering.
And your copywriting, therefore, has to reflect the customers mind and not your own.
How to practice your copywriting.
A final tip, to improve your copy, is to practice. Obviously, the more you practice, the better you'll likely become - but only if your efforts are focused in the right area. We love 'One Minute Briefs', which offer great daily challenges to develop creative ideas fast - through copy and imagery.
Find a balance between customer wants, and expert knowledge about whichever topic your copy is on. Writing a clever pun may seem tempting, but you need to make sure the tone is correct and the content is clear to the average reader.
Learn from industry leaders. Being original can be great, but it offers unpredictable results. To excel fast, learn what the best companies do, and learn from it. Adapt proven success stories into your campaigns, tweaked for your target market.
The art of debate shapes a skilled speaker, and learning to speak persuasively and confidently is indeed a useful tool to adapt to writing. We've seen major politicians across the world run 'car-crash' campaigns, yet still astonishingly win - many would argue the secret is in the rhetoric.
Being able to relate to the average person is huge, and 'designing for the lowest common denominator' comes in to play here. Simplifying ideas, and language, to make your copy accessible to as many people as possible, is hugely useful.
Studies have also found that people prefer short columns, which is why the newspaper layouts are more encouraging for readers. Whilst people tend to read slower, they're more likely to engage and read for longer when the text is presented in short lines. Perhaps the psychology behind this is based on the reward for completing lines, and pages; Saying you've read 20 pages is more satisfying that saying you've read 5, even if they both contained the same amount of words in different font sizes and presentations. This may be why many copy writers tend to use short and snappy sentence structures to draw a reader in with curiosity and suspense. Next time you read an engaging advert, stop to consider what made the advert appeal to you in the first place - and try to recreate the style for your own brand or product.