Monthly Archives: April 2008

How to write your own copy

Why tell people how to write their own copy? Why not? There are many people out there who don’t have the resources to pay for a professional copywriter and who have to write their own. I have two reasons for wanting to help them. One altruistic and one a little selfish.

Reason 1 – altruistic

I like the English language. I dislike seeing it murdered. I hate to see effort spent in writing wasted because the content is poorly written. I want people to be able to communicate the benefits of their products and services well and easily.

Reason 2 – selfish

If I help people now when they can’t afford my services and it assists them to become successful, then maybe, when they are and they have the money but not the time to write their own copy, they’ll remember who helped them. 🙂

Eight tips for writing your own copy
  1. Know who you’re writing for. In other words know your customers. You must have an idea of their motivation for buying your service or product and then address that. Write as though you were having a personal conversation with them
  2. Before you decide to write for real, so-to-speak, write down what you really want to say. Don’t worry about the spelling or the grammar at this stage. Just get down on paper the information you want to communicate. This will help you become clear on what you need to say.
  3. Write down some possible headlines. They should attract the reader to want to read more. Play on their curiosity and use the magic word “you”.
  4. Now arrange what you wrote in 2. Your ad, brochure or web site copy is like a story. It needs a beginning that catches the reader’s interest, a middle that provides the details and an end that summarizes and encourages the reader to call, or buy, or do whatever it is you want them to do.
  5. Now’s the time to polish your work. Check it carefully for mistakes of grammar and spelling.
  6. Give it to someone else to read – preferably someone in your target audience – and listen to their criticisms without taking it personally. They may have a point.
  7. Test it. Measure the response you get from it so that you know what works and what doesn’t.
  8. Refine it and test again. (Repeat until you get the result you need)

Idioms and the importance of using native speakers

was reminded again of the importance of using native speakers to communicate a message when I came upon a recent spam message. At first I was a bit puzzled and then the light dawned. The spammer had used an idiom which he had expressed strangely.

Hello the man not familiar to me!

Recognise it? A somewhat mangled version I suspect of “Hello stranger!”.  It doesn’t have the same impact somehow, does it? And while this is all a bit of joke, it’s not a joke if you make mistakes with the language with your products.

Add value to your products by using competent native English speakers

On many occasions I have looked at products that appear well made and that are selling for a good price and I haven’t bought them. Why? Because the packaging had descriptions that were written in poor, misspelled English. It makes the whole product look cheap and nasty when that may not be the case.

Import the products not the blurb

So, if you want your imported products to be perceived as quality products, and you want to maximise your selling price then use a native speaking copywriter to write your packaging descriptions and your user manuals. It’ll be money well spent.

Copywriting – the written art of persuasion

Imagine this… you’re sitting at home; feet up; TV on; it’s warm and cosy and the sound of the rain on the colorbond roof is almost drowning out the TV. You take a deep breath and begin to relax. It’s the end of the week and the long weekend stretches ahead of you. Wouldn’t it be lovely to just get away. Enjoy a little warmth, a little sun on your face. Relax a little; enjoy nice meals prepared by someone else; have a massage; go to sleep to the lovely shushing sound of the sea…

So how did that make you feel?

Did you identify with the feelings involved? Did you get a picture in your mind? So now, if you were made an offer like “If you want to get away right now, you can. Go to and get the best deals instantly!” would you be tempted? Possibly. After all, if you have identified with the scenario you’ve already opened yourself to the possibility. Why is that more effective than the following: “Looking to get away? Go to and get the best deals instantly.”

Why is one better than the other?

The first one sets the scene. It allows you to use your imagination to put yourself in a position where you would be a potential customer of the service being offered. The second is more like cold calling. The first is a call to emotions, to feelings; the second to logic, haste. The first uncovers a need for the service; the second assumes a need.

Copywriting techniques

Copywriting isn’t just a case of straightforward communication. At it’s best it helps people to see themselves using your product to fulfil a need they may not have realised they had. That’s why copywriting is both an art and a science. It’s the written art of persuasion.

Why I live in Oz and not the UK…

Simple really. The following picture says it all.

SNOW in April!

snow in april

snow in april

The interrupting cow…

Those of you who watch any commercial TV in Australia will have seen what I refer to as the “interrupting cow ad”.  In it a little girl tells a knock knock joke. It’s very cute. It makes you laugh. But can you remember who it’s for? Or what it was actually selling? I can’t. I know it’s either Target or K-Mart – at least I think it is but what products were being promoted I can’t remember. And that’s the problem.

Too funny for its own good

That’s one of my beefs about clever ads. Too little branding. Or at least branding that’s not strong enough to override the cleverness. The message is clear, or should be. Don’t sacrifice clarity for cleverness. If your core business isn’t humour then don’t try selling it. Be funny by all means but in a way that’s a play on your name or your product so that it gets remembered.  Knock, knock…