Advanced Copywriting Secrets: How to Bring Your Writing to Life!

June 17, 2010

A lot of readers have asked me if there’s a secret copywriting technique to adding more texture and dimension to the general message of what they would like to write. And my answer is “yes”!

More often than not, people provide just the mere facts in their writing, often forgetting to include emotive and sensory words that give readers a true picture of what they’re reading. It is very important to paint a picture of what you are trying to communicate because this makes it easier for your readers to “see” the image you’re trying to create.

Therefore as you write, try to visualize the message of what you want to convey. If you are writing about a product, or anything at all, one of the most important copywriting skills you have to learn is thinking in pictures!

Describe your product in vivid detail, right down to its textures and colors. There is no limit to your imagination and  you may even add interesting details such as whether there are other characters in the scene you’re trying to visualize. What are their expressions? How they are feeling? Whatever your imagination may be, the key thing is to share with your readers what they will see, hear, feel, taste or even smell when they use your product – any product – be it a meat patty maker or a hamburger!

With that in mind, let’s play a visualisation game to help you improve the clarity and control of your mental imagery. Picture the sequence of events as your readers use or consume these common objects. How would your scene unfold?

  • An electric fruit juicer
  • A bar of chocolate
  • A bottle of wine
  • A mountain bike
  • An electronic gadget such as a smartphone
Get even more advanced strategies that help you create better copy in less time. Get your copy of QuickStart Copywriter here and give your writing skills a complete makeover!

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1-Minute Learning for Busy Copywriters: More Examples of Active Voice in Copywriting

February 14, 2010

Instead of:

“All students are dreaming of graduating with flying colors”

Use:

“All students dream of graduating with flying colors” (Active voice)

Instead of:

“Being true to your nature.”

Use:

Be true to your nature.” (Active voice)

Instead of:

“Brand XYZ has been rated the #1 tasting vodka in the world by Wine and Dine magazine.”

Use:

“Brand XYZ is the #1 tasting vodka in the world as rated by Wine and Dine magazine.” (Active voice)


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1-Minute Learning for Busy Copywriters: Top 5 Criteria for Crafting Copy that Sells

February 13, 2010

1. Know your readers well and focus on what’s in it for them (benefits)

2. Always convey an idea central to the unique selling points of your product of service.

3. Your idea must be relevant to your readers’ needs

4. Respect your readers. Always be positive and avoid the use of sarcasm, negative sell or words that talk down on people

5. Be an inspiration to your readers. Because in doing so, they are more motivated to respond to your call for action.


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Get Inside Your Reader’s Mind with this Powerful Visualization Exercise

February 12, 2010

One of the biggest challenges in writing good, effective copy is finding out what your readers want.

What exactly motivates them towards responding to a call to action? What are their pains, fears, doubts that we, as solution providers, have to address and resolve?

By understanding your reader, it makes the selling process a lot easier. Think of it as a relationship with your loved one. It’s always a wonderful feeling to be understood and treated the way we want, don’t you agree? In fact, most relationships sour as a result of conflicts that arise from not understanding each other’s needs. It’s the same with copywriting – you have to know what makes your readers tick in order for them to respond to your offer.

While there are many ways to collect information about your readers such as drudging over marketing research, studying endless business reports or talking to salespeople for several hours long, there is one special technique that can help you get inside your reader’s mind within minutes. And you don’t even have to leave your seat!

Here’s what you should do:

1. Take a few deep breaths and relax.

2. Now imagine (you may choose to close your eyes if you want to) your reader sitting in front of you.

3.  Open up a conversation by asking questions about what they feel about your product or service. Imagine your reader responding to you and listen attentively for answers.  How does he or she sound? Does your reader sound happy, or frustrated or angry?

4. As you recall this imaginary conversation after the exercise, make a list of what was “discussed”

QuickStart Copywriter’s Tip: It helps to create a list of questions before you start this exercise so you have a mental guide of the things you should ask


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1-Minute Learning for Busy Copywriters: Love Thy Customer!

January 23, 2010

The modern copywriter knows that consumers today are much more discerning than yesterday. They will shut out any obvious attempts to sell them something they don’t want or don’t need.

So how do you persuade your readers to take up your offer? There are 4 ways:

1. Respect them as intelligent people; love them, speak to their hearts like you are speaking to your friends

2. Share helpful information; the more you GIVE, the more you receive

3. Speak to them in a language they will understand and respond to

4. Always be POSITIVE and avoid the use of negative sell, sarcasm or sexist remarks


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Pack More Punch Into Your Copy. Use Active Voice Instead of Passive Voice!

January 21, 2010

In the English language, voice is used to refer whether the subject of the sentence is doing something, or receiving the action. An active voice tells you that the subject is acting, doing something. In writing, it makes your copy more alive, more engaging and more personal.

Look at this sentence: “John drives a red Ferrari.”

This is the active voice. Here, the subject is the driver, John,who is doing something to the car and there’s some action. You can feel the impact that active voice infuses into the sentence, making it more lively and more active.

Now imagine how it’ll sound like in passive voice : “The red Ferrari was driven by John.”

Feel the difference?

Firstly, the impact is gone because the subject has been moved from doing the action to receiving the action, thus making the sentence sound unemotional and boring. Secondly, the sentence length increases by another 40% for no extra meaning.

So instead of saying, “The goods have been received by customer service” (passive), say “Customer service has received the goods” (active). Instead of saying, “I am looking forward to meet you”, say “I look forward to meet you” as it sounds more personal.

While passive voice can make your writing long-winded, dull and confusing, there are some occasions when it would be more appropriate.

Some examples:

  • When you want to give extra emphasis to something noteworthy – “Lawry’s Steakhouse has been rated as one of the world’s top restaurants.” Here, the focus is on Lawry’s Steakhouse.
  • When you want to downplay the severity of an issue where tact is concerned – “Apology letters have been issued to our clients regarding the product mix-up.” Here, the focus has been taken away from the mistake – the product mix-up.

In conclusion, I encourage you to use your judgment when you write and you will only get better with experience. If you feel that your sentence sounds nicer in passive voice, then use it. But just be sure to vary using the active voice and passive voice wherever appropriate.


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Proofreading Technique #1: Print Your Documents and Check One Thing at a Time

January 16, 2010

You’ll be surprised to learn that many people…well-educated people… couldn’t even be bothered to edit their everyday work.

Let’s take the office for example. How many times have you personally received emails or letters that are riddled with misspelt names, bad grammar or even worse, illogically-written information (E.g “This is not a sales pitch, but we’d like you to take advantage of our early bird offer!)?

As a reader, how did you feel? What kind of impression was left on you?

In fact, not remembering to edit your work could cost you sales, goodwill and reputation.  It doesn’t show that you care much for or respect your readers, some of whom could be your most important business clients or even your CEO!

To ensure those horrible outcomes don’t happen to you, get into the habit of printing your documents and checking them on paper. If  your office is particular about saving paper, then use recycled documents where 1 side is available for printing.

When you read things on print, you don’t have to squint your eyes as often as you do on a computer screen. This makes it less tiring for your eyes and you can concentrate better on proofreading your work.

As you are revising your work, slow down your pace and check for one item at a time. For example, you may focus on spelling first, then grammar, then punctuation, then your choice of words.

This way, your brain doesn’t get overwhelmed by multiple things at a time and you’ll be able to spot more errors and produce a polished piece of work that you (and your readers!) can truly be proud of.


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