Copywriting that Steals the Show

Show, don't tell - copywriting that converts

As both a health care journalist and professional copywriter, I can attest to the validity of those who claim that skilled copywriters and skilled journalists use many of the same tactics. Both the journalist and the copywriter must create compelling headlines to grab the reader, strong leads with a hook to keep him there, and a storyline that piques the reader’s emotions to carry him through to the end.

Copywriters do use techniques far outside anything a journalist would use, but headlines and leads represent important skills for both of these professional writing niches.

Lay the foundation 

Without a strong foundation, your copy will fail to elicit any action from the reader outside of moving along and spending his money elsewhere. Rambling, awkward, cheesy, or grammatically bankrupt copy turns even the most spend-happy readers off. Assess and remedy your problem areas.

Once you’ve ditched these bad writing habits, your copy must follow the basic and well-known AIDA rule.

Attention – grab your reader’s attention

Interest – include an element of human interest that sparks emotion, curiosity, or both.

Desire – show your reader how the product or service provides a solution to problems, alleviates pain, or teaches him a valuable skill to increase desire.

Action – finally, call the reader – now full of interest and desire – to action by whisking away any remaining doubts so that they take action and purchase right away.

But just using the AIDA rule isn’t enough. You must use it correctly to steal the show.

People want results, not a lecture

You’ll need a much deeper explanation in the proper use of AIDA than I can provide in this article to truly make a notable difference in your copywriting skill level. But, if you can internalize and implement one rule in your writing, you’ll see a definite improvement in the way clients receive your copy and its power to convert readers into buyers. So what’s this great all-encompassing rule?

Show, don’t tell.

That’s it. Show, don’t tell whenever you write – no matter what type of writing you do. To show your readers, rather than tell them, avoid using passive voice in your ads, where possible. So, grab reader attention, using your unique selling proposition (USP) and build interest by incorporating it into the ad copy. Check out these examples of attention-grabbing USPs:

Coca Cola — It’s the real thing

Avis – We’re Number Two. We Try Harder.

M&Ms – Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.

Gillette – The best a man can get

These don’t tell the whole story, but they definitely capture the target reader’s attention. These aren’t simply slogans or taglines. They represent their respective companies completely. Incorporate the message of your USP throughout your marketing collateral content and ad copy.

Benefits show, features tell 

When you’re thinking about making a purchase, what do you want to know before you buy? The ad or salesperson must clearly communicate how the product or service will benefit you. Sure, amazing features certainly don’t take away from the pitch, but they’re meaningless if they don’t provide benefit.

If I’m looking to buy a new printer for my home office, I want to know how it can benefit me by using less ink or toner, printing large documents faster, producing high-resolution printouts, and more. The fact that it features a mechanism made of titanium or a double output tray doesn’t mean much to me unless you tell me how they benefit me in a relevant, material way. Tell me that I can print two documents at once with the double output tray? That’s a benefit!

For more in-depth explanations about the principles outlined here, check out this copywriting course eBook. One round of going through the lessons and exercises contained in the course will dramatically improve your skills and confidence. Guaranteed.


Photo credit: istockphoto dot com

About texascopywriter

Samantha Gluck works as a freelance copywriter and news journalist at her office in Spring, Texas – near Houston. She has worked as a professional freelancer since 2000, but left the corporate world in January 2010 to start All Media Freelance, LLC, and offer her services on a full-time basis.

Recently, she trained with one of the world’s most successful copywriters, Kent Austin, copywriter for Martha Stewart, Jaguar Motors worldwide, and more. Her freelance news journalism career also flourishes due to one-on-one mentoring from some of the greatest old-timers in the news media world.

Read more of her work at Balanced Living Magazine and in the Houston Chronicle

Contact Gluck directly via email [email protected]/ or by phone at 281.536.8662.

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