People tend to take writing for granted. Since we all know how to speak, we assume that writing is something anyone can do. But the truth is, knowing how to write and knowing how to write WELL are two very different things. Studying copywriting tips can highly improve your writing and turn you from a basic writer into a smooth writer. You’d be surprised by the way your writing changes after some research and practice.
So, what is copywriting anyway?
I hear this question every time I tell someone I’m a copywriter. They also almost always confuse it for copyrighting and ask me, “Is that where you give people the right to license something so no one copies it? How is that any fun?” No, mom, that is not what copywriting is. Copywriting is the act of writing in a creative and persuasive manner for advertising and marketing purposes.
But why is copywriting important?
While copywriting may seem like a very small part of marketing, it’s actually all around you. You’re exposed to it everyday. It’s what helps make marketing memorable. Think of all the slogans, jingles, narrations in commercials, promotional emails, and even down to every sentence on a website. All of that came from copywriters who strategically thought of every single word, making sure it sticks to the strategy.
What are some copywriting tips?
By going to an art school for advertising and focusing on copywriting, I’ve learned a few tips from professors who have spent years as professional copywriters. Here are just a few copywriting tips they’ve passed down to me (and hopefully actually improved my writing).
Tip 1: Know your audience and your brand
This is the number one tip. Each brand has its own tone and its way of talking to its audience. If that tone is not consistent, it won’t differentiate the brand from others and will confuse your target audience. For example, think about the way a Chanel ad would sound compared to how an Old Navy ad would sound. Two clothing stores, two very different tones. In terms of audience, you’re not going to talk to a five year old the same way you talk to a college professor. You need to know every detail about who you’re talking about, get in their head, and find out what they want to hear. That is how you go on to persuade them. Tell them what they want to hear.
Tip 2: Write down everything
Okay, so you know your audience. Now what? Start by brainstorming anything that comes to your mind. Even if you think it’s garbage–which it might be– just write it down. One classy professor I had, used to tell the class, “Just vomit as much as you can all over the page.” Of course, she means, word vomit and not actual vomit, in case you were confused.
Sometimes it’s good to just write it all down and clear your mind to make room for stronger ideas. Writing everything down also helps with building ideas on top of each other. One slogan might work terribly alone but be powerful when paired with a different idea. Or if you’re writing a paragraph, write down as much as you can and then flesh out the writing. Clean it up until you’ve kept the good parts.
Tip 3: The first idea is usually never the best idea
Once you get a project, you might be struck with inspiration right in the moment and think, “Damn, that’s a good idea, let me write that down.” Fine, write it down. But it’s probably not as good as you think. The best ideas are usually developed after really digging deep into the problem and strategy. The first idea that pops into your mind might be cute, but also might be very surface level and weak. Keep it written down in case it sparks any ideas but don’t stick to it and call it a day. Keep writing!
Tip 4: Have fun, be weird, and loosen up!
This isn’t history class, you can relax. No need to be formal and talk like a robot. You’re allowed to be weird. If you’re not weird, you’re boring. No one likes a boring writer. You might as well read the tag on the back of your shirt. If it permits it by the client, have fun and make jokes and references. Write what you think will intrigue the audience and make them want to keep reading. Of course, don’t be offensive, but feel free to add some quirky writing in there.
Thirsty for more advice?
Here’s a list of a few resources that are great for copywriting tips. Make sure you’ve got a notepad handy for these, they’re rich in juicy tips.
- Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
- D&AD: The Copy Book
- Joseph Sugarman’s The Adweek Copywriting Handbook
A source that isn’t a book but instead is a website with several articles, interviews, and lectures is Eddie Shleyner’s Very Good Copy. Eddie is a successful copywriter in the industry and has great content for writing tips.
Eddie is actually one of Scaling with Siva’s guests. Scaling with Siva, in case you don’t know, is Siva Creative’s podcast where the Founder, Mallory Steele interviews successful professionals in the marketing world. Tune in and see what Eddie has to say about business growth and marketing!
But there you have it. Four tips and a few sources on writing tips for marketing and advertising. Practice them and use them to your advantage. Writing doesn’t always come easy. Having these tips helps make the process a little easier. So go ahead, write some great copy!