You’re going to get good… If you spend enough time writing copy. But to become great? It requires something else altogether. Something that great copywriters have in common. These principles shape the thinking, approach, and wonder of great copywriters to birth ideas that would influence the world.
Know what you’re talking about
A no-brainer. But to know what you’re talking about means doing homework. A tedious thing. And when it is tedious, only obsessed copywriters do it.
Another word for this is research.
It’s only natural to understand the product deeply. Because you’ll be writing about it. Understand the consumer deeply. Because you’re writing to them. And it also helps to understand the market deeply, because you’ll be writing within their context.
The more you know what you’re talking about, the more persuasive you naturally become. No need to force it. People are smart and can tell if an expert is speaking. And they’re more likely to pay attention.
The more you know, the more you can tell. And the more you tell, the more you sell.
Don’t be boring
Formal writing can sound boring. But you can write formally and still sound interesting. At least, interesting to someone who, according to their context, requires you to be somewhat formal.
Same goes for products. The most boring product you can think of is likely to be interesting to someone,
“There are no boring products. Only boring writers.” – David Ogilvy
It’s a simple principle but the execution requires a bit of work.
First, avoid writing about something you have no interest in. People can tell when something is forced. Try as you may, your disinterest in the subject will seep into your copy. One way or another.
But if you have a gun to your head and you need to write this product that bores you…
Study consumers who are big fans of the product. Learn their language. Understand their why. Internalise their worldview.
It’ll help you, at least in the moment of writing, see and feel from their point of view.
It’s not about you
There’s a famous saying among copywriters. “Kill your darlings.”
Essentially, it means to edit out anything you have an attachment to. For example, “I like how this sounds.” “This is a creative line.” or “That’s a pretty cool sentence.”
If at any moment you find yourself thinking this… pause and reflect. Does it contribute to the main idea of your copy? Will the audience immediately get it? No?
Then kill it.
Great copywriters don’t write for themselves(or their clients). They write to please the consumer. And if achieved, it would automatically please their clients… because of all the money coming through.
(When faced with clients who love their own “creativity”, I sometimes wonder if they love that more than they love money.)
Be mindful of these 3
In my “How to Start as a Copywriter” course, I outlined a few more principles. These 3 reflect that entire list. At least in spirit.