I’ve been doing this for a long time. And still, the “process” is me staring deeply into the flickering computer screen, attempting to extract magic from a blank copy document.
Writing is difficult. Heck, I just spent five minutes trying to think of a better way to say, “writing is difficult.” I couldn’t do it. Maybe that’s the best way to say it.
After twenty years in advertising, you’d think writing would become easier. You know what? It does. Because eventually, you decide not to become the next David Ogilvy or Dan Kennedy and instead you become yourself. Along the way, you learn the shortcuts around the quicksand that used to get you stuck.
Adopt these principles of copywriting today, and instantly become the world’s greatest copywriter. Results vary. Ask your doctor if these tips are right for you.
Writing is like magic dust. If you don’t believe in it – even just a little bit – it’ll never fly.
Insincere sincerity will always read like sarcasm when penned by a skeptical copywriter. You either have to A) find a way to believe in the validity of your client’s product or B) pass the job to another writer. Option A isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds. There’s genuine usefulness inside every product or service. Find it and roll with it.
When you’re finished writing your copy, go back and delete the first sentence. Chances are, you just made your copy better.
Rarely does one discover gold within the first scoop of dirt. Usually, by the time I finish my copy, the conclusion is far stronger than my introduction. Because while in the process of writing, I’ve made some new discoveries about the product or service. The easiest and most effective solution is to eliminate the first sentence. Just hack it right off. You’ll be surprised how much you won’t miss it.
If you’re having trouble writing a banking ad, check out some automobile ads. (And vice versa).
Copywriting is sometimes less about the subject matter and more about the attitude. Shake your brain and jump out of category. The voice somebody gave to an ad for breakfast cereal might be perfect for your ad about bariatrics.
So, never start a sentence with “So.”
I understand completely. You think you’re wrapping up some crackerjack body copy with one dynamite thought that sums it all up with a big red bow. But “so” is nearly as worthless in ad copy as it is in a game of Scrabble. What “so” signals to the world is that it’s nearly lunchtime and you’re ready to punt the job jacket to the art director. Don’t take my word for it. NPR hates it, too.
If the copy direction is “We’re committed to excellence,” challenge yourself to write the best “We’re committed to excellence” ad ever.
We are charged to create masterpieces with the clay we’re given. And it’s not always prime stuff. But that’s part of the challenge of advertising. Anybody can create a sexy-cool car ad. A great writer can do the same for free checking, prostate health screenings, and discount shoes. Take a breath and find the angle.
And if you never find it, it’s okay. Just don’t wrap up the copy with “so.”