The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

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Entreprenuer recently put up a great article called “The 10 Commandments of Great Copywriting”. Although the author positioned this list towards copywriting for email marketing, we think it’s applicable for your any marketing copy. The list is reprinted below, with our own notes added in.

  1. Know your audience. This should be the second question you ask yourself about any piece of marketing (second only to “What message am I trying to send?”). It’s important to remember that your audience is also determined by your advertising media. If you are trying to reach 20-25 year olds, you shouldn’t be sending direct mail.
  2. Determine your value proposition. Potential customers become actual customers when they agree that the service or product is worth the cost. But remember, the cost isn’t always necessarily a price in dollars - you might be asking them to call you to find out more information. What’s in it for them if they contact you?
  3. Find a unique selling proposition. Consumers have access to a lot of information about your competitors, including their prices. Make sure you have something that makes you different, and make that clear in your marketing.
  4. Establish an objective. What do you want the reader to do with the information you’ve given them? How are you going to measure if this campaign was successful?
  5. Use a compelling subject line. Give the reader a reason to open it.
  6. Write a great headline. You can’t expect that your reader will read every word of your marketing. Make sure your most important or compelling information is up front and center.
  7. Avoid weasel words. Don’t let your reader take “the easy way out”. Instead of saying, “If you’d like to schedule an appointment, call us at (555) 555-5555,” try “Call now to schedule an appointment.”
  8. Don’t use passive voice - write in the present tense. I believe the author meant to say to write in the active voice (instead of the present tense), but the advice is still spot on!
  9. Include a customer quote. Testimonials are a reliable way to build trust and confidence with a potential customer. But don’t rely on the same five testimonials you’ve always used - make sure you continue to update your testimonials with feedback from your most recent happy customers.
  10. Keep your copy clean and concise. Always take a second, third and fourth look through your copy. If there are unnecessary words that don’t add to the conversation, cut them out.

Photo courtesy of flickr user preater.