Copywriting, or writing publicity material, is an art and a science. To become proficient at it takes time and effort.
A good copy can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Unfortunately, in the very early stages of your startup, you usually don’t have the resources to hire an expert to do your copywriting alone. This means that as a founder you have to get started very quickly.
The purpose of this article is to give you an overview of the cornerstones of good copywriting.
1. Conciseness and clarity
“I’m sorry I wrote you such a long letter. I didn’t have time to write you a short.” – Blaise Pascal
Your first goal as a copywriter should be to convey information clearly. Your readers wouldn’t have the patience to put in the extra effort to figure out what you’re trying to say. Any confusion would likely cause your potential customers to jump off to the next piece of content or alternative solution, which of course is a disaster.
Therefore, being understandable is your number one priority. Everything else is secondary.
To achieve that, you need to synthesize your message as much as possible. Trying to say too much and cover every possible concern and question is a common beginner mistake. Avoid that by figuring out the most important message you need to get across and focusing solely on it.
After you’ve done that, go over your copy and try to remove unnecessary words you use. Avoid the passive voice, complex sentences, and overly descriptive words and phrases.
Editing your stream of consciousness by writing in short, snappy, deliberate sentences takes time and effort, but it’s mandatory for good copywriting.
It’s a good idea to keep your language as specific as possible. Don’t use a lot of generic statements and abstractions. Try to get straight to the point.
Another good rule of thumb is to preload the meaning words of your sentences – e.g. “We do our best to Customer service” is becoming “Customer service is our top priority”, etc. This will make your text easier to read quickly, especially if you use bullet points.
2. Serve your reader
Think about why your reader reads the text you write – why is this text necessary? If you don’t have a good answer to that question, you’re unlikely to write a good copy.
We naturally approach writing from our own perspectives. In practice, however, readers want you to solve their problems – they don’t really care about your side of the story.
So to write effective texts, you need to give them information that convinces them that you understand them and can best solve their problems.
“We created the world’s first portable music player” becomes “1000 songs in your pocket”.
Finally, after you achieve the first 2 goals, you can think about adding some flavor to your text. Try not to be sterile – let your character, values and culture be expressed in your writing voice.
This is risky, as you could alienate some readers, which is why companies generally don’t do it. But trying to appeal to everyone is a common startup error† Professional-sounding, soulless text is what you get from most business texts. As a startup you have to distinguish yourself. It’s a good idea to put some character in your writing. Most readers would love it.
In summary, to write a good copy, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your audience and communicate your understanding of their needs and wants through concise, accurate and soulful writing.
Keep in mind that all the efforts you have put into becoming a better copywriter will not be in vain, even if you leave this role as your project grows. Understanding copywriting can help you become a better communicator overall, which is arguably the most important skill for budding founders.