There are many theories as to what makes for good advertising copy, and what makes for bad advertising copy, often in direct opposition to each other. However, the core of copywriting is straightforward. The copywriter aims to convey to the reader information about a company, product, or service, with the goal of inspiring the reader to take some action.
Identify the reader
As you can see from that description, the copywriter is not creating copy in a vacuum. The copy is being directed toward a specific reader. The more you know about the reader, the better you are able to create effective copy.
Start by identifying your reader’s general demographics. You’ll use different words and images to appeal to college professor than to a high-school dropout. You’ll choose different analogies for a world-traveller versus someone who has only left their home town to attend a championship match of the local football club.
Determine what hobbies and interests your reader is likely to have. This will also help you identify appropriate analogies and word pictures. Which image would your readers better respond to: all the instruments in a symphony playing in harmony; many varieties of flowers growing together to form a beautiful garden; or all of the players on a team working together to achieve victory?
Target your swipe files
Swipe files are excellent short cuts of words, phrases, and ideas that have worked well in the past to achieve desirable results. You can create your own swipe files from your previous work, or from acknowledged successful work written by others. There are even companies that will sell you swipe files.
The trick with using swipe files, however, is that those particular words, phrases, and ideas were successful with a specific reader. Something that works wonderfully for one campaign and is used again and again with great success may prove to be a complete flop in a different campaign.
The more specific you can be about the circumstances in which a particular word, phrase, or idea was successful, the more likely you are to be able to repeat that success. When targeting your swipe files, consider what medium they appeared in, what their target demographic was, and whether they were used in stand-alone copy, as part of a series of emails, or on a landing page.
The simple test
The simple test for your copy is this: does the copy adequately and accurately convey your chosen information to your targeted reader, and does it inspire that reader to take your preferred action? If it fails to do either or both of those things, it may be the most brilliant writing in the world, but it isn’t good advertising copy.
The Internet Marketing Academy