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Friday, March 10, 2006

How To Write Copy That Pays The Bills - Part 2

O.k. Students, in yesterday’s lecture we covered the importance of research, the supremacy of “the offer�?, and the necessity of clarifying the response mechanism. You are now one step closer to writing money-making copy!

Once you’ve laid the groundwork, here are your next steps:

4. Decide concept and format. What’s your slant? If, for example, you’re promoting a book about controlling blood sugar, do you go the serious “diabetes health report�? route? The indulgent “eat anything you want—even sweet desserts�? route? Perhaps the “Glycemic index�? slant? How about the vanity/weight loss approach? (Here is where you use your research to determine prevailing consumer interests/POV) Will your copy be long-form-full-disclosure, short and teasing, or a mixture of both? Deciding your point of view and format up front make it easier for you to craft copy that speaks to the consumer in the way that will make them place the order. Use your research or test results from previous rollouts to figure out what they respond to best, and write in that style. Speaking of which…

5. WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. The copy is the single most important element. Shoddy copy usually results in suppressed response. In addition to the offer you also need to focus on benefits. The question you’re answering is “What’s in it for me?�? This is what every prospect/buyer wants to know. Other vital elements: powerful headline and sub-heads, scannable copy with lots of white space for easy reading, numerous hotlinks. People often only read headlines and bolded copy, so make sure that your headlines and subheads tell a cohesive, compelling story on their own. Make sure your call to action is prominent and powerful. Dumb it down. Use complex words for your novel. For direct mail, keep them short and sweet: call, free, gift, order, phone, now, today, free, free, free. Did I mention free?

6. Rinse and repeat. So your campaign rolled out, the orders rolled in, you cashed your cheque, and now you’re on to the next client. They need the deliverables yesterday. (Isn’t that always the case?) The great thing is, you now have a winning format/formula that you can apply to multiple jobs.

This is not an excuse to get lazy—the copy must still be snappy, zingy, on-brand, and on-strategy. But there’s nothing better than knowing you have a template to follow when it’s the midnight before your full copy deck is due…and you haven’t yet started. In this case, repetition is good.

© Lisa Downer 2006

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