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10 Rules for Copywriting

Copywriting is defined as “the act or occupation of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing”. Ultimately, this type of writing has a call to action for the customer (ie, call us, visit our website, invite a friend for a discount, etc.). We do a lot of writing at Marketing Maven, so when we came across this list of rules for copywriting, we wanted to share it… but also wanted to add our own flare to the list!

By Natalie Klima, inspired by '10 Rules of Copywriting' Social Content by Dave Gerhardt'

1. Learn how people make decisions.

Learning how people make decisions is vital for effective copy. You know your customers best (and if you don’t, you need to learn the habits and tendencies of your ideal customer), so you should make note of how they make decisions. Know why people make purchases from you. What kind of problems does your product or service alleviate for your customer? Once you know, plug that into your writing.

2. Find the selfish benefit.

What’s the selfish benefit of your customers purchasing your product or service? Will they be the envy of their friends and neighbors? Will it get them further ahead? Does it make them look successful? Does it give some kind of personal gain to the customer? Apple is a great example of this, they allude to the fact that there’s something different, unique, and awe-inspiring about their users. Another one of my favorite ads is here.

3. Learn to tell a great story.

Throughout all of history, mankind has been telling stories. We’ve all had those experiences when someone has a whole room of people sucked into a story, and that’s what you have to try and do with your customers. Make your copy exciting and fun to engage with. You can add humor or a touch of realism, so people can know what something feels like or what their world will look like when they do business with you.

4. Write like you talk.

We’ll keep this one short and sweet, you don’t have to sound outlandishly smart to get your audience interested in your copy. Just write like you talk. (Did you notice it’s “write like you talk” and not “write how you talk”…does anyone talk like that?)

5. Use customer’s words.

There is no ROI like the words of people you know and trust. Using customer reviews and feedback builds trust with new customers while keeping your current customer’s confidence boosted that they’re making the right decision by keeping their business with you.

6. Write choppy copy.

WHAT. A. DEAL! Would get way more attention than What a Deal! There’s something about choppiness that emphasizes the text more. It draws in the customer because it’s unique and uncharacteristic. See this awesome ad by Ricola below, notice that it doesn’t have anything to do with having a cold or needing a cough drop, it only using the word “cough” to correlate the phrase and the product.

7. Be specific.

This not only helps your customer with clarity about your product, service, deals, or whatever you’re advertising. It can also ensure you are getting your whole message across accurately and efficiently; it can also help to avoid any questions from your customers about what you’re offering them.

8. Nail the headline.

The headline on your copy is the first thing your customers are going to see. Make sure they’re clear but also draw interest so it’s not easy to bypass. I recently read a headline on a Ford poster that said: “Stay in Play Mode.” I was a little bit taken aback, what did Ford have to do with being a parent? As you can see below, it’s featuring their Pickup & Delivery Ford experience, where they’ll bring your fixed vehicle to you so you don’t have to worry about it. Their goal was clear and I immediately knew how they could fix that problem for their customer.

9. Always give proof.

Evidences are a great way to encourage your customers to contact you. If you know stats about your industry or even better your business specifically, share them. They provide evidence of the need for your business and what you offer to your customers. Proofs can also provide a great basis for pricing.

10. Address objections upfront.

Every product or service will be met with objections, but you can encourage your customers in your copy before they have time to object. For example, no one likes soggy fries, so Wendy’s is addressing the issue up front by showing that soggy fries aren’t on their menu. They’re taking away an objection someone might have in trying out a new burger place, based on the quality of their fries.


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