Friday, July 13, 2007

How to make good copy great

Years ago, when I picked up a copy of John Grisham's 'The Firm', I couldn't stop reading it. I remember cancelling dates, leaving work earlier just to finish this book. Whenever I had to put the book aside to do something else, I couldn't get wait to get back to read more and more.

And this is how advertising copy should be.

Good copy makes a lot of sense. And relates to people in a rational way. Great copy means telling a good story.
Let's face it: Copywriters are sales people. And only good story tellers can be good sales people.

If your copy reads like a good story - compelling and engaging - the better your chance readers will read until the last word. And, ultimately, buy your product.

Consider your copy as a plot, with twist and turns, and a climax: An offer. Or something valuable to the consumer.

Where can you learn this skill? Many will tell you this is something you can't learn. Baloney.
Maybe not in school but can you do some home-schooling. Read a great fiction book. Just enjoy and read it. Once you're done, read it again. Take notes, understand what the author did, what techniques he used, how he made you want more.

A good story has peaks and valleys. Where are the peaks. Where are the valleys? Focus more on the valleys because that's where weak copywriters become boring. And bland.

One last advice: Don't tell the whole story. Don't treat your readers like a politician talks to his constituency. Leave something to the imagination of the consumer. Let them make connections. Don't make those for them. This tension makes good copy great.

That's what's wrong with movie trailers today: They tell you the whole story and there's no motivation for me to see the movie. When ID4 launched, one of their trailer just showed the White House imploding. Followed by the ID4 logo.
Talk about tension.

Don't tell the whole story. Set up the framework, the peaks and valleys, the climax. But allow for people to let their mind work. And open their wallets.

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