Basic Copywriting Skills by Sarah Hitchings.
In this presentation, we explain what the goal of copywriting is and how you can perfect the art of copy to improve your business communication and sales copy.
We help you write a fantastic headline, understand what persuasive copy is and how to write it, as well as explaining the difference between benefits and features and their importance.
This clip is wonderful – it shows the immediate attitudinal change of those around the blind man, who have read the words on his sign. The first sign wasn’t effective at all – it didn’t appeal to anyone in particular, nor encourage those to reach into their pockets. It was generic and something everyone had seen many times before. The audience this man wants to appeal to are the good Samaritans in our community - those who care, and those who can appreciate how lucky they are to have sight. His original sign was bland, common and let’s be honest – it was pretty forgettable.His re-written sign changes the way people view him. Initially, he was a disabled beggar who anyone would pass on the street and quickly forget about. Contrast with the second sign, he is now viewed a human being, down on his luck and appealing to those who care. The scary perceptions we might have about beggars eliminates the human aspect about them – we think they are different from us, and this is what creates fear. By appealing to the parts of them that we have in common, barriers are brought down and a connection is made.This is the power of words – the power of good copy.
The goal of copywriting is to create content that reads easily, while simultaneously being persuasive and informative.The point of good copy is to get your words read- and remembered.Every element of copy has just one purpose — to get that first sentence read.This is an extremely valuable way to go about structuring any writing, and it’s crucial to writing intended to persuade or sell. Many times we find ourselves so eager to arrive at our conclusion that we forget that the essence of making a persuasive point (or causing any action) is how we get there. Step by step.
Before you even get started, you need to understand who you are writing for, and what you are trying to get across – what is your message?
At Intelligent Ink, when tasked with a copywriting job, we always assess who we are writing for. It may seem obvious, of course you know who you’re communicating to, but this does require some conscious though. Consider not only who currently buys your product or uses your service, but also who could in the future? What other uses or benefits does your product or service have that could open up a new audience? Then, it’s time to look at the data. What else do you know about these people? What else do they buy from you? Who is the most profitable? You want to determine who you want to find more of. It’s worth being as specific as you can at this point and really drill down to the detail. Some people find it useful to use imagery, arriving at a picture of their ideal customer with all the socio demographic (and sometimes psychographic) details defined. It can be a fun way to involve your team in this exercise and it can turn up some really creative results. When you know who you’re talking to, it’s much easier to know what to say.When it comes to communicating, you can do so from a range of different perspectives, first person, second person, third person, for example, you’re stil talking about you either way, but can come at it from different angles. The suitable perspective for your wiritng is likely to be driven, at least in part, by the tone that you want to take. First person can be much more personal and third has traditionally been considered more professional. More recently though, businesses have attempted to become more personal and engaging, particularly on social media. In this day and age, there are no longer any real hard and fast rules. Talking to your audience so they understand is the bottomline.
Now that you’ve identified your audience, it’s time to identify your key message! Your key message is the main point you want to get across in your piece of copy. It's the 'big idea' the core of your piece of writing. It helps to anchor what you're doing and keep you on track. It also should give your reader a clear idea of where you're going. Consider the purpose of your communication - are you wanting to inform, to educate, or to get your reader to do something? If so, what is the action required? Visiting your website, coming into the store, calling you up with an enquiry, or replying to your email? Then comes the most important thing to decide, which is what you most want the reader to think, feel or do when then are finished reading your content? That will help to steer your content and also gives you something to sense-check it against when you're done. It may not be the 'perfect' key message yet, but it will be a start and you can craft from there... Once you’ve got your basic key message, craft it so that it becomes easy to understand and easy to remember. Here’s the checklist to go through to craft your key message:- Is it as short as possible, but no shorter?The shorter your key message the easier it will be for your audience to grasp and remember. But there is such a thing as too short. Brevity should not come at the expense of meaning. The length of a Twitter message – 140 characters – is a good guide.- Does it convey a message?There's a topic of your communication and then a key message... Check that you’re not confusing the two by ensuring that you are actually getting some information across. An example of a topic masquerading as a key message is this “How you can make our workplace safer”. It’s fine, but it’s not telling your audience anything. Ask yourself – what’s the main thing I want to tell the audience about making the workplace safer? The answer is your key message, for example: “You can make the workplace safer by looking out for hazards.”- Is it specific and concrete? Your audience should be able to “see” your key message. If it’s full of jargon or abstract, conceptual words they won’t. For example this message “Implementing urban design principles will ensure that this roading project is sustainable” could be transformed to “Adding cycleways and walkways will reduce pollution.”-
One of the most common errors that we see so many companies commit is speaking (or writing) to their external target audience as though they are speaking to someone else from within their industry. This isn’t ideal, as it assumes a whole lot of knowledge on the readers (or listeners) part, that they are simply unlikely to have. Be careful to rid your copy of jargon or industry specific words that others are unlikely to know. It’s not so much about dumbing down your content, but using laymans terms where needed,so that your message remains clear. Put yourself in their shoes and speak (or write) in line with their level of knowledge, touching on their needs, fears or worries when it comes to engaging with you. Remove those barriers automatically for them in your content – and watch them come. . .
Your headline is the first, and sometimes only, impression that you’ll make on a reader. Think of any newspaper – the articles that you read are the ones with headlines that interest you or make you intrigued and want to know more. A good headline can convey your message to its’ audience, but a fantastic one will also draw them into reading the rest of your copy.The three main things that you have to do in a headline:Get attention – none of your copy will get attention if your headline doesn’t, so this is hugely important!Deliver a complete message. In many cases, people will only read the headline (think of how often you skim the headlines of a newspaper – I know that often I will only get the news as is reported in the headlines!). Therefore it’s a good idea to make sure that your headline conveys the whole of your key message by itself – hence the fact that knowing your key message and having it be clear and concise is a good idea!Draw the reader into the body copy – after you put so much effort into writing a piece of copy, you want people to read it! Saying something in your headline that will intrigue the reader and make them want to know more is what will convince them to keep reading!
Getting a reader to pay attention is the most important aspect of a headline, and you can get it by doing these three things:Go after their self-interest. Ask yourself how will the reader benefit from what you have written about and then tell them! If you can make a personal connection with the reader, they will pay attention – who isn’t interested about everything that involves them? For example, this headline from the Daily Mail appeals directly to men, and connects with them by making them think about their own bodies.Offer them something new – new and original is always more interesting than old and overdone. No one will bother reading an article that they have already read a thousand times before. Suggesting that there is “new research” or bringing up a topic that hasn’t been done often (as opposed to female body types which have been written about many times), make this more interesting than your average headlineTry to arouse their curiosity – make them want to read the article to find out more!
There are many different ways that you can write headlines, however The Four U’s is a fantastic system for remembering the most important points. Useful, Urgency, Unique and Ultra Specific.Firstly, make sure that your headline is useful to the reader – this is making sure that your headline explains how it solves a problem or need of the reader (even if this seems trivial or if it’s one that they don’t know that they have). For example, “how to grab your reader’s attention!”Secondly, provide them with a sense of urgency – make them think that they have to read it now, otherwise they will miss out, or that if they don’t read the article then they will be at a serious disadvantage. For example, “Half price flights until midnight!”Thirdly, show them that what you’re offering is in some way unique. This is what I was talking about before with offering something new. If you have a headline that suggests an article similar to a hundred other articles, what is to make the reader choose your piece of copy?Lastly, aim all of the above at a target audience in an ultra specific way. Once again, it’s hugely important to know who your target audience is – no one is going to read every piece of copy that they see, but what you want to do is get a few specific people to read it – the ones who will take action!
Basic Copywriting Skills
Basic CopywritingSkillsSarah Hitchings, PR & People Person –Intelligent Ink
Basic CopywritingSkillsAll the top tips for successWhat isCopywriting?Writing greatheadlinesPersuasive CopyBenefits andFeatures
What is Copywriting?Copywriting is the act of writingcopy (text) for the purpose ofadvertising or marketing aproduct, business, person, opinion or idea.
Before you get startedWho is your target audience?What are your key messages?
Who is your targetaudience?Figure out whatperspective you‟respeaking from firstResearch who yourtarget audience isTalk to your specificaudience in alanguage theyunderstand
What‟s your key message?Ask questions (of your client/yourself) –What is the end result that you would like toobtain?What call to action are you making?Do you want to inform or are you trying to get thereader to do something?What is the one piece ofinformation that you wouldlike the reader to take awayfrom it?
Common MistakesSpeaking to customers asyou would to those in yourbusiness – assuming thatthey have knowledge thatthey may not haveAssuming that people willinherently understand whatthe benefits are instead ofexplaining how your productor service will help them
Writing GreatHeadlinesPurpose of aheadlineHow to grab areader‟s attentionThe Four U‟s ofheadlinesTips for successfulheadlines
Purpose of a HeadlineYour headline is the first, and sometimesonly, impression that you make on a reader. Afantastic headline can convey your message toits‟ audience, yet also draw the reader into yourbody text.Get attentionDeliver a complete messageDraw the reader into the body copy
How to grab a reader‟sattentionGo after their self-interestOffer them something newTry to arouse their curiosity
The Four U‟sMake your headlines USEFUL to thereaderProvide them with a sense of URGENCYShow that what you‟re offering is in someway UNIQUEAim all of the above at a target audiencein an ULTRA SPECIFIC way
Tips for successfulheadlinesKeep it simple and understandableMake an intriguingpromise, irresistible to its‟ targetaudience, that can only be fulfilled byreading the copyTarget it to a specific audience
Persuasive CopyGoal of PersuasiveCopyBenefits vs. FeaturesMust havesTips
Goal of Persuasive CopyTo persuade, inform and entertainTo grab the attention of a specific audienceTo get the first sentence read and from therekeep the reader engaged step by step to theconclusionTo sell a product, service or ideaTo convince the target audience to do something
Benefits vs. FeaturesFeatures: Characteristics that describeyour product or service. Things that makeyour product unique.Benefits: “Functional Product” – whatyour product actually does for yourcustomer. Describes how the product orservice will improve the consumer‟s life orsolve a problem for them.
A Features vs. BenefitsExampleFeature: An mp3player has 16gb ofstorage.Benefit: The playercan hold 3600songs, ensuring thatyou can listen to allof your favouritesongs wherever youare.
Must haves!Know your key messageKnow your audienceCreate a structure built around afew key messages (or just one!)Connect to a need
Must haves!Present and solve a problem – if you startby reminding people of what problemsthey face, they are often more receptiveto the solutions that you offerGive testimonials – backs up your claimsShow what your benefits are and usefeatures to back them up
TIPSDon‟t be vagueCut to the chase, don‟t „warm peopleup‟Keep it clear – a confused reader isnot a persuaded oneInstantly! New!
After you‟ve finishedwriting…Profread, prufread, proofred!Check spelling and grammar – nothing looks moreunprofessional than incorrect grammar!Check the length – make sure that you haven‟tneedlessly repeated the same ideas over andoverCheck your formatting –make sure that it‟s easyon the eye!Get someone else to read it and read it out loud
In summary…Know your audienceKnow what your message isSell benefits, not featuresMake sure that what you have written is accurateKeep the reader interested and you will persuadethem!