Golden Rules

Here’s the obligatory piece of free content. My seven golden rules on how to write great copy…

1. The most golden of all copywriting rules…Talk to your audience, in the language of your audience about the things that matter to your audience. Clear writing is the product of clear thinking, and that process starts by thinking about what your readers really want from you.

2. Active not the passive,isn’t just about addressing the audience directly, it’s about being empathetic and benefit-led. For example:“Check out our cheap flights,” is an active phrase, but “Fly for next to nothing, today,” is a compelling one, that will make the reader act.

3. Be specific, not vague.In other words, if you’re offering a 5% discount on the price of a new hot tub, don’t use the percentage figure. It’s too hard to visualise and we need to get the audience imagining alongside us. Instead, say that you’re offering £50 cashback – enough for a couple of bottles of bubbly to christen the new hot tub.

4. AIDA still rules.The traditional copywriter’s mantra of Attention, Information, Desire, Action is still relevant today. As brands become more sophisticated and complicated, it’s too easy to lose sight of the fact that brands exist for one reason…to increase sales. In other words, writing “on brand” needs to be about conversion as much as reader experience.

5. Plain English is not enough.Words send signals and if the signals you send are the same as everyone else’s out there, how will you ever get your voice heard above the cacophony of businesses also using “plain English”?

6. E3 = 0.Emphasise everything and you emphasise nothing. It’s a common mistake that many companies make, and it seriously dilutes their message. Instead, be brave, identify the “important reader” and write for them.

7. Clever isn’t always better.Let’s say we’re promoting a private health insurance that covers you for gallstone removal. It’s tempting to reel off a witty line like Welcome to the Stone Age. However, if you’re unlucky enough to suffer from gallstones the chances are, you just want to know – as simply as possible - if you’re covered.

8. OK, there is an eighth rule(in fact it’s another six) – courtesy of George Orwell. And it rings as true today as it did 50 years ago…