By Alan Graner
Everybody’s a copywriter: your boss, your clients, the sales department, engineers, your Uncle Leo.
Face it: We’ve all been writing since first grade. There’s no magic in the process, no “art.” It’s simply putting a noun in front of a verb. How hard can that be?
Thing is, copywriting IS an art. It’s more than mere characters written on paper or broadcast over electronic media.
As a copywriter you combine your skillful knowledge of words with keen marketing insights, psychology and a bag full of copywriting secrets to convince people to buy something.
Can your Uncle Leo do that? (Unless he’s Leo Burnett.)
Legendary Herschell Gordon Lewis, a master copywriter and author of over 30 books, has distilled his knowledge into a series of rules all copywriters should read.
The following are a few of those rules distilled from his book Herschell Gordon Lewis on the Art of Writing Copy © 1988.
- Clarity is the most important aspect of copywriting. Don’t let anything interfere with it.
- Tell the reader, listener or viewer what’s in it for them, not you.
- Tell the reader what to do.
- First state the benefit, then how it benefits the reader.
- One-syllable words are stronger than their multisyllabic equivalents.
- Replace “can” with “will.”
- Statistics don’t sell.
- Your copy will succeed if it includes three ingredients: clarity, benefit, truth.
- The strongest sales argument ever is “Only you…and only from us.”
- Puffery can never sell as effectively as specific benefits.
- In the battle of emotion vs. intellect, emotion always wins. Benefits are more emotional than features.
- If you claim something is important, prove it.
- The reader must always know you have the answers to the problems you present.
Anything you’d care to add?
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA business public relations and marketing content firm. For content that makes you stand out from the crowd, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.dsprel.com.