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How to: Write Great Copy

How to: Write Great Copy

“When I write great copy I don’t want you to tell me you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it interesting so you buy the product.” David Ogilvy Copywriting is a conversation between a desire and a service. This desire might be practical and tangible, a need to remove mould. Or it might be esoteric, a wish to feel youthful. Even nail clippers service a human emotion. Great copywriters are great conversationalists. They don’t ramble, they’re tuned in to the personalities of their listener and they’re often funny or thought-provoking. Every time I approach a brief I think of it in a three-fold process. Firstly, who am I speaking to? What do they want to hear? What do they need? Secondly, What affect do I want to have on my reader? What do I want them to feel? What emotion do I want to resonate with? Thirdly, what relationship will the copy have with art direction? What image is going bring the copy to life? Will the advertisement still hit the mark with your target audience? Next: less is more. No matter what the brief, you always want your reader to think. No advertisement is ever going to be memorable if it is too literal and straight. You need to draw an incomplete circle in the mind of the reader and allow a ‘spark’ to make the final connection. Once you’ve got a working draft, give it space. Put it on a wall and let it breathe. What once seemed like an amazing line and a great insight might not appear so in the morning. Take feedback from people who are not involved in the project. It’s easy to get stuck on one train of thought and on one idea when tackling a brief. When you come back to it check that it ticks some of these boxes: • Does the copy I’ve written satisfy one dominant desire? • Is there a shorter way of saying it? (The answer is always yes) • Are you writing to your target audience? Don’t try to please everyone! • Would it work better in a different medium? In the meantime: read. Read anything. Great copy, bad copy, novels, newspapers, brochures, blogs; whatever. Knowing what makes terrible copy can help inspire the best copy. Expose yourself to advertising and ask yourself why an advertisement does (or doesn’t) work. Inspiration can come from the most unlikely of places.