Don’t Be Afraid to Write as You Speak!

February 6, 2012

Don’t Be Afraid to Write as You Speak!

I often find it amusing when I read my emails.

It almost always starts off with “Dear Marc”, and then goes on with “Please find herewith…” or “Kindly be advised..”

I find that amusing because not only does it sound old-fashioned and boring, they are just not written in the language that people speak.

Do you feel the same way too?

In modern sales writing, it is important that your messages are the same as what you would say to your readers if you were speaking to them face-to-face. If you were talking to somebody in person, you wouldn’t use words like “Dear Sir” or “Please be advised” would you?

Let’s say you want to invite somebody out on a date. Can you imagine going up to that person and saying “Dear Michelle, I would kindly like to invite you to a seafood restaurant tonight. It is a very famous restaurant located in town. Please kindly RSVP. ”

You wouldn’t say it would you?

In fact, you are far more likely to say something like this, “Hey Michelle, there’s this new restaurant in town that’s famous for its amazing seafood! Why don’t we go try it out?”

See the difference in the emotions? One is written in the way that WE would speak, while the other is written in the way that our great-grandparents were taught to write in school.

In copywriting, it’s all about the results. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter if you write in perfect English or grammar as long as you achieve these 3 things:

  • Did you get your intended message across?
  • Was it interesting (and FUN) for other people to read?
  • Was it written in a conversational tone that you would normally say face-to-face with a friend?
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1-Minute Learning for Busy Copywriters: How a Simple Writing Technique Can Make a Powerful Impact on Your Readers

January 18, 2011

How a Simple Writing Technique Can Make a Powerful Impact on Your Readers

Whether it is for a speech, sales letter or email, pay attention to the final word in your sentence.

In copywriting, we call it the “hot spot” – the word that makes the biggest impact on readers. So keep it for powerful words.

Instead of:

You will feel refreshed when you use XYZ brand of body foam.

Say:

XYZ brand of body foam leaves your skin feeling clean and refreshed!

Instead of:

You’ll learn how to dress to impress when you read this article

Say:

This article will teach you how to dress to impress!


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How to Write Powerful Body Copy: Use Verbs, Not Nouns

September 16, 2010

The secret to writing good sales body copy is to use words that sound active and vigorous. Like a Hollywood blockbuster director, your aim is to entice, engage and keep your readers hooked to the plot of your story.

And the key to seducing your readers is to use words that convey action, also known as “verbs”. But many writers, presumably trying to sound more professional, tend to turn their verbs into nouns – big words that are used to name complicated ideas. This weakens the impact of your message and ultimately smothers the quality of your overall writing.

Here are some examples of nouns used in a few ads I’ve seen and how we can rewrite them into verbs:

Noun: We are one of the world’s fastest growing exotic car specialists, what’s special about us is our passion!

Verb: We are passionate about cars! And that’s what makes us one of the world’s fastest growing exotic car specialists.

Noun: Our specialization is web design and provision of IT solutions for your entire needs.

Verb: We specialize in web design and solving your IT problems.

Noun: We assist organizations and individuals to improve daily operations through the promotions of InfoComm & Security Technologies.

Verb: We offer InfoComm and Security Technologies that improve daily operations for organizations and people.

Learn more advanced copywriting secrets for writing effective body copy, download the QuickStart Copywriter ebook here.


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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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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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