Trimming the Fat – Copy Tips for Saying More With Less

By | September 1, 2015

pig_exercise_jumping_jacks_lg_clrCopywriting doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. From the
billions of dollars in sales each day that hinge on a well-formatted
sales letter, to a polished TV commercial script, to the catchy jingle
or slogan you just can’t get out of your head, effective professional,
persuasive writing, “copywriting,” does a lot for us as marketers.

It’s unfortunate then that copy is often neglected as a luxury expense
or an unnecessary cog in many marketers’ or business owners’ sales
funnels. The reason, inevitably, is cost. Good copywriters know that
their words will have a direct effect on your conversion rates, and thus
the money you make, and leverage that knowledge for a nice payday. It
then goes to follow that many marketers begin crafting their own copy.
To be honest, even if you don’t have the polish and practice of a
professional, someone who is a good writer in general can learn to
produce decent copy to keep them growing and selling until they can
afford a dedicated copywriter. The key word there, however, is “learn.”

Amateur copy is almost always identifiable by a lack of brevity; people
often write too much and get too wordy, losing their vital, important,
life-changing points amongst superfluous, unnecessary adjectives and
ineffective anecdotes. See what I did there? That sentence could have
been a lot shorter! Today, we’ll take a look at how you can catch
yourself and self-edit copy to stay effective and to the point.

1) Cut out very. The concept of “cutting out very” is probably
referenced in proper copywriting books somewhere, but here’s my take on
it. The tendency in sales writing is to be, well, selly. The way to do
this however is with proper punctuation and, more importantly, by
getting inside your audience’s head and telling them what they want to
hear. Unfortunately, amateur writers usually use “filler” words. The
word ‘very’ is one prominent example, because it is a false enhancer
that is rarely needed. Don’t say “It’s very good,” say “it’s the best.”
Another example is the use of very before the word ‘unique’, which is
redundant. Something is either unique or it isn’t, it’s not “very
unique.”

2) Boil it down to exactly what someone needs to know. One of the
biggest things you can do to make your copywriting effective is to put
yourself in the shoes of the person you’re writing to. This gets you
out of salesman mode and helps you think about what someone with the
problem you’re offering a solution for actually wants to hear.
Sometimes, doing this can help us see that what we’re put down is over
the top, too selly or spammy, or even just flat out unhelpful!

3) Proofread 80 times. And I’m not just talking about any usual
proofread. Sure, you’re going to be checking your spelling and grammar
and making sure everything lines up, but a copywriting proofread should
see you putting on another hat as well, the “could this possibly sound
any better?!” hat. Read each sentence and look for words that could be
dropped, phrases that could be made more appropriate for your customers,
etc.

Of course, just like every facet of IM, there’s always more to learn on
the copywriting front, but this should get you headed in the right
direction until you can hire a personal Don Draper of your own.

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