A while back, I sat in a room together with a coworker, listening as our manager laid out the work he wanted from us.
When he was finished, my coworker leaned forward. “When do you want it by?”
“Hmm.” My manager paused for a sip of coffee. “This is a new project. Neither of you have done something like this before. I’d rather not set a timeframe that has you rush and do sloppy work.”
“Alright,” he said, and proceeded to ask one of the cleverest questions I’ve ever heard.
Here’s a question for all my fellow writers:
When was the last time you thought about giving up?
Or how about this:
When was the last time you made an ultimatum with yourself? When was the last time you said that if you didn’t achieve X, you were going to throw in the towel?
Did you achieve X?
What makes great copy great? How do copywriters turn words on a page into a powerful copywriting message?
The answer is knowledge.
They know how to write copy that works.
And now, with this guide, so will you.
A while back, I stumbled across the following advertisement:
“Pina coladas are fresh. Your marketing isn’t.”
Which is an awful ad, but it got me thinking.
Comparisons are one of the most used tactics in copywriting. Take A, compare it to B, and voila! You’ve got copy.
So I figured I’d lay down the ground rules for what makes a great comparison—and what makes an absolutely awful one.
The setup is simple.
A family—mother, father and daughter—sit around a dinner table. The father reaches over and pushes a plate of broccoli to his daughter.
“Just have one broccoli.”
The daughter pushes it away.
A shove of war begins between father and daughter.
And then a stranger walks in; a woman in a red dress.
“The solution is here,” she says to the camera.
As any blogger will tell you, it takes a lot to make a blog successful.
You have to offer value. You have to be informative. You have to be a touch unique.
And you have to be consistent.
Your readers need to know what to expect.
And as any blogger will tell you, going completely silent for two months is hands down not a recipe for success.
Only . . . that’s exactly what I did.
It’s happened to you before.
You’re talking to a client, explaining them how to do something, when they cut you off with a, “Yeah, yeah, I hear ya. But how about we try it this way.”
You close your eyes, grit your teeth. Outwardly, if you’re talking on the phone—inwardly if in person. As calmly as you can, you explain that you appreciate their input, but you’ve been doing this a long time. You’ve weighed the different options, and the way you’ve suggested is the best one.
Left unsaid—what you really wish you could say—is why on earth are you always stuck dealing with people who know nothing about copywriting.
Every so often, I look back over the last few years and see how far I’ve come.
From the days when I knew nothing about copywriting and just fumbled my way through some early projects without much clue as to what I was doing.
I didn’t get everything wrong in those early days. My instincts were usually correct, and I’ve been writing since I was a kid.
But I did get a lot of it wrong.
And when I think about how I was able to grow so much in such a short period of time, I realize it’s really due to one thing.
It’s copywriting 101:
Nobody wants to hear you talking about yourself.
They want to know what’s in it for them.
Even entry-level copywriters swiftly learn the importance of stressing benefits over features. Instead of talking about what your product does, you talk about how it can help your customer. What pain does it alleviate? How does it make life easier for them?
It’s a simple tactic, but it’s powerfully effective.
It’s also grossly misunderstood.
A lifetime ago, I sat in a career counselor’s office, explaining why I couldn’t imagine a job I would succeed at. I had no skills, I explained. I knew nothing about anything.
The counselor asked me to prove it. “List your skills,” he urged me.
I shrugged. “Very well,” I replied. I was intelligent. I was analytical. I was reasonably organized. I knew how to be patient and how to listen. But so was everybody else. I only had general skills; I didn’t know anything specific.
The counselor shook his head. Those skills, he said, that I had so derisively labeled as general skills—those were the most important skills I could ever learn. Anything else—marketing, design, data entry—were simply extra skills that I could learn.
But all the skills in the world wouldn’t get me anywhere if I didn’t have the basics.
Eli Landes is one of those weird writers who just can't get enough. A marketing writer by day and a fiction writer whenever he can squeeze in the time, he spends his spare time working on his novel, writing short fiction, or daydreaming (I mean, researching). His main genre is Jewish fiction, but he's been known to dabble in the weird, the absurd, and the truly dark.