Last blog I talked about headlines. That’s the place of biggest blunders. Re-read that article to create headlines that actually get attention and tempt people to read further. Reminder: Write it, then ask yourself, “Who is this about? Me or the Customer?”
Whew, ok, you avoided the first biggest mistake and wrote a headline that works!
Second biggest mistake is too many (and too big) words.
Writing for marketing (copywriting) is different than any other kind of writing. The reason is that no one has to read what you write for advertising. Let me restate that because it’s the foundation of how to execute good copywriting!
No one is FORCED to read your ad.
Not like in school where you had assignments you had to read. Not like at work where you have to read memos or reports. Not like voter information booklets where you want to know what you’re voting on. Not like research where you’re looking for information. Advertising is not something anyone in his right mind says, “I want to read all these ads.”
The upshot of that is you must make it fun, interesting, surprising, or relevant—but mostly EASY to read. Or they won’t.
If it’s hard to read, you lose them. And too many words make it hard to read! Sentences need to be simple and direct—subject, verb, and object, not a lot of irrelevant words. This is one of the hardest things for people to “get.” It seems like more words ought to make it clearer and more important. They do not! More words make it harder to read and dilute your message.
Let me give you an extreme example:
“Insofar as manifestations of functional deficiencies are agreed by any and all concerned parties to be imperceptible and are so stipulated, it is incumbent
upon said heretofore mentioned parties to exercise the deferment of otherwise pertinent maintenance procedures."
In other words, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
But this is copywriting and it needs to be simple and easy to read—about 5th grade level. Not that you’re talking to 5th graders, but the easier it is to read, the more likely they will read it and get your message.
Here’s another example, extreme, about libraries:
Here’s how I’d edit and rewrite:
The art of writing copy is a skill you CAN learn. Go ahead and write your ad. Then leave it for a few days. Now, come back and look at what’s about you, what words are not necessary, what words are too big (pompous) and how you can edit to make it lots shorter and sweeter--but always about what the customer gets, not about you!
My Christmas gift to any one on this list, between now and the end of the year, send me your already edited short classified ad and let me see if I can edit it even more. Sometimes seeing more editing helps you learn how! Merry Christmas!