Copywriting secret of the masters seven ways to encourage better copy critiques - john forde


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Copywriting secret of the masters seven ways to encourage better copy critiques - john forde

  1. 1. Copywriting Secret of the Masters:Seven Ways to Encourage Better Copy Critiques by: John Forde
  2. 2. Seven Ways to Encourage Better Copy Critiques Great editors can make a piece of writing come alive.The same goes for all kinds of writing, including copywriting. The morefocused the copy review, the tighter and more persuasive your copy will bein the end. For those reasons – and because its often very difficult to spotyour own mistakes – its essential to get critiques on your copy. The earlierin the drafting process, the better.Unfortunately, getting the kind of in-depth feedback you require isnt alwayseasy. Which is why, this week, were going to look at seven ways (amongmany) to keep your copy reviewers on track and get them to do their bestwork for you.1) Quantify Your Demands:Let the person or people youre asking to review your copy know how muchyou want from them. For instance, you could try saying something like …" This is a pretty important promo piece, so I want you to give it a thoroughreview. On an intensity scale of 1 to 10, give it at least a level 8 lookingover."Likewise, ask them to quantify the results: "Overall, on a scale of 1 to 10,how well does this package meet the goals youre looking for?"2) Give Them a Time Limit:My old friend and colleague Deeba Jaffri never lost sight of the value of adeadline. She reviewed copy quickly. A two-day turnaround tops.She also kept other reviewers on track.Occasionally, shed ask me to look at copy another copywriter had turned in:"Do you think you could get your comments back to me by Tuesdaymorning?" shed say as she handed me the draft. "Ive scheduled aconference call with the writer for 11 am."If she hadnt made that preface a habit, who knows how many drafts wouldhave piled up unread until the last possible minute?3) Offer a Comparison:Handing someone a piece of copy and saying, "What do you think of this?" isan open-ended request.Youll close off a reluctant reviewers escape routes much more effectively ifyou ask instead for a comparative critique, like so:
  3. 3. " Bob," you say, "Ive just e-mailed you the first draft of my new promo. Ithas two headlines. Which one do you like better?"And then, once youve hooked the reviewers attention, you can throw in,"And while youre looking it over, any suggestions you have on the bodycopy would be terrific."4) Play Politics:One way to spur on a reviewer is to tell him or her – before youve beenasked – that someone else has reviewed and rendered an opinion of thesame piece.Be careful. Playing personal dynamics is always risky. Just the same, simplyknowing that the promo copy is being actively reviewed and opinions areforming can help convince the laggards that your package is worth lookingover. And sooner rather than later.Tip #1: Dont reveal the opinion of the other reviewer unless you have morethan one to reveal. And only then if the other opinions have differed:" Hey Matilda, can you help me on this? Froderick says he finds my U.S.P. alittle on the foppish side of the fence. Emmatrude says it reminds her of theforward to the 1967 Poultry and Grain report. What do you think?"Tip #2: With sincerity, you can also remind a reviewer – especially themarketing manager closest to the project – of the stake they have in theoutcome: "Heres the draft … I think its good, but with your input, I thinkwe can beat your current control."Be careful here too. Said with insincerity, this ploy could backfire and makeyou sound like a sap or a suck-up.5) Take Your Copy to Someone New:What we call a "cold read" is, technically speaking, when you give yourmarketing copy to several reviewers at once – each of whom has no priorbackground with the copy or the product.If they want to buy the product your copy pitches, youve done your job. Ifnot, gather their reviews into one place and see where they overlap. Thatswhere youll find the most opportunity for improvement.Tip #3: Youll get your best "cold read" results if you make your reviewgroup a healthy mix of experienced marketers and random, non-professionalreaders.
  4. 4. 6) Offer Different Feedback Options:Some people are "conference call" types. Others cant unleash over thephone or in a group context. But theyll give you a pile of great commentsand suggestions on paper.Only you can surmise what will work best for your reviewer. But if youreworking with someone new, its hard to know which venue will work best.Solution: Ask. Offer a choice. When you give a draft of the promo to a client,say, "Would you rather give me written feedback? Or should I schedule aconference call on, say, next Tuesday?"7) Dangle a Carrot:One way to get a reviewer to work quickly, if not thoroughly too, is to offersome extra incentive for getting the review done on time." If you can get this back to me by Wednesday – depending on what youthink of the copy – I can get you a second draft before the weekend."There are, as I said, many other ways to coax out a more full and timelycritique.One last bonus tip: Make good use of recently available technology.For instance, one of my favorite ways to get and give feedback is built intoMicrosoft Word software.Its the "track changes" feature found under the Tools menu. There, youllfind a submenu for tracking changes with the option "Highlight changes …"Check that box and, until you uncheck it, everything new that someonetypes into the document will show up in a different color. And every linedeleted will stay in the document with a line through it.Once youve gone through the document and decided which changes to keepand which to get rid of, you can go back under the same submenu and"Accept changes."All of the above, by the way, is assuming that you CAN take a good solidround of criticism on your copy. In almost every review situation, theprofessional resists the urge to be defensive. You wont make it anywhere inthis business if you cant.If a reviewer is especially harsh or especially verbose, just listen. "Mostpeople," observed Hemingway, "never listen." How true.
  5. 5. John Forde:A Master at WritingMore Controls More Often"If you write copy … how many chances to sell your talents to the businessesyou know and trust have you overlooked? Company websites … local salesbrochures … online ads and sales letters … print ads in local papers … evenP.R. pieces or ezine editorial.It might be the small gigs that get you started. It might be the bigopportunities that let you smack the cover off the ball at your first at bat.Either way, I’ve met plenty of people who had no grasp about what rolecopywriters play.Masterson’s [Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting] offers themost thorough and well-organized approach to the subject I’ve seenanywhere. There’s not a technique or secret in there that I haven’t foundhelpful over the years. I owe a great deal of my own success to MikeMasterson. And I tell him so regularly. As for the program, I’d recommend itto anybody – not just direct-mail copywriters, but anyone who’s trying to geta grip on what makes marketing work."— John FordeJOHN FORDE has been writing winning controls for going on two decadesnow. He’s made untold millions for clients in the financial, health, and travelindustries. John also works as a copy coach, hosting intense seminars fortwo or three hundred marketers and copywriters at a time.John Forde also writes the successful and very useful eletter, TheCopywriter’s Roundtable.