Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Just What IS Good Copy Writing? Savvy Clients Want To Know

                            TREAT READERS RIGHT

Writing good site text is a complex mixture of defining benefits and keeping visitors interested, i.e. enhancing the on-site experience with good information that’s short on sales hype, long on useful tips and suggestions.

Here are some tactics that have worked for my clients:

1. There are three topics about which most readers are interested: health (nutrition, fitness, diseases, etc.), family (how-to’s, relations, child-rearing) and finances (aka money. How to make, save, spend or stretch it.) Choose a topic in one of these areas. Combine two interests, as in “10 Ways to Improve Family Nutrition.”

2. Engage the reader. Befriend the reader. Encourage the reader with good, useful information. Don’t make the reader angry.

3. Write like you talk. Don’t write words to be read, write words that are heard in the reader’s brain. You don’t say, “I am going to the kitchen.” You say, “I’m going to the kitchen.” Pretend there’s someone sitting next to you. Talk to that figment and type what you say. Then, clean it up for grammar, spelling and punctuation.

4. Readers don’t want to learn, they want to discover. Learning connotes homework. Discovery connotes excitement. Don’t teach, create a map with words that leads to a helpful, interesting or funny discovery.

5. Use short blocks of text, like this post. Layout is important to eye scan and web readers rarely read, they scan and small blocks of text are more easily scanned. That’s why it’s a good idea to use titles, headers and sub-heads to raise the curiosity of the reader. To intrigue. It’s a pleasant discovery. (See point 4.)

6. Practice writing in a number of voices so you can take on any writing job. A corporate white paper uses different wording than a quick how-to written for parents. A business plan has a different tone than a piece on oddities in Nebraska. The more voices you develop, the more readable and engaging your writing.

7. Respect the reader. S/he takes the time to read what you write so keep it interesting, on point and short. No extra words.

8. Eliminate qualifiers. Not: We strive to achieve client satisfaction. Strive and you might fail. Eliminate the qualifier: We achieve client satisfaction. Not “Our widget CAN increase production by 300%.” Eliminate all qualifiers: “Our widget increases production by 300%” This gives writing authority and confidence.

There’s more, but that’s a start. The one thing you don’t want to do is anger readers. Or annoy them. Or push their buttons. Be straight with them and they’ll read what you write. 

Paul Lalley

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