09 January 2007

Getting the copy right

Writing copy takes time. The reason for that is that few of us think like copywriters. Copy tells us what a product or service can do for us and doesn't necessarily labour the point about what the product or the service is. One of the key features about copy is that it has to grab hold of its audience quickly and keep them interested.

That means that the headline has to be strong enough to encourage people to read the first paragraph, the first paragraph has to lead the reader to learn more and finally, the call to action has to be sufficiently compelling to make the reader perform an action.

There are a lot of basic rules about copy and they tend to be similar. The key rule is that the copy has to talk to the reader as you and about the reader's problem as your problem. That's easy if you follow Andy Bounds' concept of AFTERS because you will be thinking about what you are leaving the reader or the buyer with as a result of buying your product or service.

Good copy doesn't have to follow a specific format - I have seen a 30 page sales letter which was broken up into smaller sections, each of which was terminated by a call to action. Readers who ignored the call to action at any point had the option of reading more of the letter and reading additional detail about the products and what they could deliver either from the seller or testimonials written by happy customers. This didn't follow many people's idea of a formal structure for a piece of copy but it was highly effective.

Typically, people writing copy use one of two main structures:
  • Attention; Interest; Desire and Action
  • Problem; Solution and Action
The actual structure is less important than the response it generates in the reader - and the best of all responses is to get them to read down to the last line and follow the call to action.

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