Writing Good Copy

By Brian Monger

As a writer, you’re once removed from the consumer and you have only one chance to present your message.  If your copy is obscure or uncertain, you don’t have a chance to clarify your meaning.

The good copywriter surrounds a possibly ambiguous term with its intended meaning.  So, instead of just saying “The car can be leased very easily,” explain that the car can be leased from the XYZ Company.  List available car makes.  Show how freedom from paperwork makes leasing from the XYZ Company so easy.

By using concrete words, you yield more information and accuracy, carefully moving your prospect over to your way of thinking by sharing facts.

Use descriptive verbs. 

Avoid unfamiliar words if possible; they convey no information.  However, if you do need to use an unfamiliar word, define it carefully, thus giving the prospect a sense of instant expertise.

Appropriateness

Make sure your style is appropriate to your readership, your product, the occasion, and the person who is signing the order or making the purchase.

If your prospects don’t feel at home with your language, they’re not going to buy.

Avoid technical words if possible.

Don’t use scientific terms unless they’re absolutely necessary.  Use a conversational tone, the kind that a farmer (not an agricultural engineer) might use when talking with a neighbour.  But stay away from localisms or slang unless you-and your audience-are at home with them.

Vividness

Colourful language frames whatever you’re talking about in a fresh way.  Strive for metaphors that work extra hard.   Why not make your readers respond with their sensory apparatus, as though they saw the object you’re referring to? Actually, you can convey seven different types of sense impressions:

1.  Tactile (those you feel)

2.  Olfactory (those you smell)

3.  Gustatory (those you taste)

4.  Visual (those you see)

5.  Auditory (those you hear)

6. Motor (those you feel through movement)

7. Kinaesthetic (those you feel through muscle sense)

Armed with all these images, you don’t have to be content with flat language.  You can make your readers active participants in the selling process by asking them to be just a little imaginative.

There are three more points to consider.

A selling message should be quickly understandable. 

That doesn’t mean you are restricted to using only very simple words.  However, you should stick to language your readers are likely to know and use.

A selling message should be more direct and imperative than regular correspondence.  Addressing your prospects directly calls for  a heavy use of personal pronouns.  Both ‘you’ and  ‘I’ should play important roles in your sales material.  You have a one-to-one relationship with your reader, which can be very advantageous.  Don’t walk away from it by being cold and impersonal.

A selling message should contain more restatement than regular correspondence does.

Sometimes in print broadcast or email advertising, because of the constraints of design or time, even very important parts of the sale message can be mentioned only once or briefly alluded to and then must be set aside.  In a mailing, though, you are in complete control of time and space.  Feel free to bring up basic sales points several times if necessary; it can ensure comprehension and a sense of reassurance.  But instead of just repeating it, try to restate the point in slightly different language!

Keep the Audience in Mind Always

Personality Types and Styles

Understanding Personality Types helps us to understand the most effective way to communicate with others.

The theory of Personality Types suggests that people have a personality preference, and that our “Personality Type” indicates how we are most likely to deal with different situations that life presents, and in which environments we are most comfortable.

The theory today is that every individual has a primary mode of operation within four categories:

* our flow of energy

* how we take in information

* how we prefer to make decisions

* the basic day-to-day lifestyle that we prefer

Within each of these categories, we “prefer” to be either:

* Extraverted or Introverted

* Sensing or Intuitive

* Thinking or Feeling

* Judging or Perceiving

The possible combinations of the basic preferences form 16 different Personality Types.

We all tend to prefer using one mode of operation within each category more easily and more frequently than we use the other mode of operation.  Although everybody functions across the entire spectrum of the preferences, each individual has a preference which leans in one direction within the four categories. The combination of our four “preferences” defines our operating personality type.

Our Flow of Energy defines how we receive the essential part of our stimulation. Do we receive it mainly from within ourselves (Introverted) or from external sources (Extraverted)? Is our dominant function focused externally or internally?

How we Take in Information deals with our preferred method of taking in and absorbing information. Do we trust our five senses (Sensing) to take in information, or do we rely on our instincts (Intuitive)?

The third type of preference, how we prefer to Make Decisions, refers to whether we are prone to decide things based on logic and objective consideration (Thinking), or based on our personal, subjective value systems (Feeling).

The fourth preference, is concerned with how we deal with the external world on a Day-to-day Basis. Are we organised and purposeful, and more comfortable with scheduled, structured environments (Judging), or are we flexible and diverse, and more comfortable with open, casual environments (Perceiving)? From a theoretical perspective, we know that if our highest Extraverted function is a Decision Making function, we prefer Judging. If our highest Extraverted function is an Information Gathering function, we prefer Perceiving.

This does not mean that all (or even most) individuals will fall strictly into one category or another. If we learn by applying this tool that we are primarily

Extraverted, that does not mean that we don’t also perform Introverted activities. We all function in all of these realms on a daily basis. We develop the ability to function well in realms which are not native to our basic personalities.   We develop some areas of ourselves more thoroughly than other areas. With this in mind, it becomes clear that we cannot box individuals into prescribed formulas for behaviour. However, we can identify our natural preferences, and learn about our natural strengths and weaknesses within that context.

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