Good copywriters are not amazing writers. Nor should they be. This is because copywriting is not creative writing. It is not literature. You’re not writing for the sake of writing itself.
Writing is just a medium of expression. This means you use it to accomplish a goal, which is to sell or to get him to take some kind of action.
And you know what’s the irony here?
Almost all amateur copywriters think they need to learn how to write better. Writing better makes your copy worse because you’ll focus on the quality of your writing. You’ll try to sound interesting and to make your copy read like great literature. And this will just distract the prospect from the emotional and logical rollercoaster required to make the sale.
You need to write and you need to write well. But never consider yourself a writer because then instead of focusing on selling the damn product, you’ll focus on making everything you write sound good.
And having something that sounds good is better than having something that sounds worse but that won’t make the sale. This is especially true for those with a background in creative writing who feel the need to paint the page with words and write to get the applause of those around them.
In copywriting, direct response copywriting, things are simpler. If the prospect says “I love the way you wrote this”, then you’ve lost. You win only if he says “I love this product and I want to buy it”.
So if you should not focus on writing like an artist, what your writing should be like?
Two key words here – clear and conversational.
Clear because if what you write is confusing or makes the reader say “what does he mean here?”, then you’ve lost him. Conversational because a sales copy is nothing more than salesmanship in print and salesmanship is conversation.
Devices that make for good writing as metaphors can be awful in copy. If you need to explain what do you mean to a person, then it’s too complicated. Sure, you can use cliches as “fast as a rabbit” because everyone can understand these. But never use complex metaphors because you’re not Nietzsche, you’re a direct response copywriter, and your prospect is not reading your copy to analyze and ponder on it. He’s reading it because he’s interested in fixing a problem and you fix it by selling something.
So let’s go into what each one of these means.
Clear means expressing your ideas in a simple, tangible way. Complexity is your enemy here. Say what you mean. Don’t add extra words. Don’t paint it. Use short sentences and simple words. Keep your paragraphs short. Make it easy to read. Read your copy and make sure it flows and that you don’t have to stop at any moment. It must feel like a slippery slope from start to finish.
Also, clear means eliminating a lot. Most copywriters can delete the first page of their sales copy with no problems because they take so long to get to the point. In most cases, I can edit most people’s copy to half the size while strengthening it. When I used to do copywriting coach, I’d repeat this again and again.
“Sell the damn product,”.
The first 250 or 500 or 1000 words were talking about something that had no connection to the product nor to the pain points of the prospect. They were connected at least in a superficial way but it was the copy that made people ask if they’re in the right place.
Copywriting is not Wikipedia. If it doesn’t talk to the specific desires and pains of the prospect, then it shouldn’t be there. So while your first draft will be long, your second one should be half the size because you can make the same point in one paragraph, not in five and because a large part of what’s on paper is not even required, it’s just fluff.
What about conversational?
At the most basic level this means you (the writer, defined in the copy as “I”) talks to the reader (defined as “you”). You don’t talk to yourself. You don’t go into monologues. You don’t go rhetoric apart from when it’s a great device – when it really delivers a point.
Instead, you talk to the person in front of you as you’d email or a text message to an old friend. If you have more “I” than “you” in your sales letter, then you’re doing something wrong. Even when you talk about yourself, frame it properly.
“You should know…” instead “I’m sure that…” or…
“You’ll enjoy a 60 days free trial,” vs “I provide a 60 days free trial”.
Frame everything as something about him, not about you. When you talk about your experience, in a resume, don’t say “I have a master in mathematics,” and finish the point. Say “You’ll be happy to know I’ve graduated with a master in mathematics and your company will enjoy my expertise in this and this and that”.
You can’t always remove the “I” nor should you try, it’s part of our normal language and it’s the most used word in the English language. But frame everything in terms for the other person, not about you.
It’s like when you make a request, better to frame it in terms that benefits the other person. It’s “you’ll help me grow in this area of my life by borrowing me $50” instead of “I need $50 to get a gym membership”.
Clear and conversational writing is harder than writing in an artistic, creative way. It’s easy-to-use adjectives and adverbs. It’s hard to edit them and to make your writing flow. But it’s a skill you can develop in time.