Most business owners know that good writing can help their marketing. From a single sentence on your website to the unforgettable tagline for your company, good copy is a key component of success.
For business owners, the persuasive skills of a great copywriter are essential for writing messages that work. The right words can be an irresistible force and make the difference between attracting new customers and driving them away in droves.
Just think about all the ineffective advertisements you see daily. The problem is poor copywriting skills. These 10 Copywriting Skills are the ones you will wish you had in your repertoire.
Pacing is a key element of effective copywriting. It’s the way you move from one point to another, or from one section of your article to another.
An effective writer will choose their words carefully and set the pace in such a way that they create rhythm, harmony, and flow. It engages the reader’s brain and helps them absorb your message better.
Think about pacing as having three types:
Slow and steady. Use this approach when you want to build tension or create anticipation. It works well for products or services with a high price tag or where the solution is complex, such as financial planning or insurance products.
Fast and furious. This is best suited for products or services that are inexpensive and simple to understand, such as e-books and software applications.
Medium pace (the average). This works well for most products and services, but if you want to break through the noise, then go for one of the altered paces above.
Pacing is important because it affects the reader's experience. If you write at a fast pace, your audience might feel rushed and overwhelmed. If you write at a slow pace, they'll get bored and lose interest.
Your goal is to find the right balance — the sweet spot — between too fast and too slow, so that your copy feels natural and easy to read.
If you want to write better marketing copy, you need to master the art of rhythm.
Rhythm is the flow of words and sentences in a piece of writing. It’s how they sound when you read them aloud.
When we create copy that resonates with our audience, we want it to be rhythmic. This means that every sentence in your writing should have a natural flow and cadence that makes them easy for readers to follow without stumbling or pausing.
If your sentences are choppy or disjointed, it will be difficult for readers to understand what you’re trying to say or why they should care about it. So the first step in mastering rhythm is making sure your sentences flow together in a smooth and seamless way.
Tension & Resolution
Know how to build up tension in your audience so that they will be interested in what you have to say, then you resolve that tension in order for your reader to feel satisfied with what they read.
The best copywriters know how to use tension and resolution to their advantage.
A good example of tension and resolution is in a sales letter for a food product. The copywriter might start by talking about the benefits of the product, but then switch gears and talk about how it's difficult to eat healthy foods when you're on-the-go.
This creates a sense of tension because you want to know what the solution is, but they don't give it away right away. They might make you wait until after they've talked about other aspects of the product before they reveal that their company offers prepackaged meals that are low in calories and fat, but still taste great.
In the example above, there's also an element of mystery; we don't know how this company plans on solving our problem until we read further into their copy. That's why this kind of copywriting works so well — it makes us curious enough to keep reading until we find out how they plan on solving our problem.
Attention to Intent
Copywriting is all about answering the questions that your audience has. If you don't know what those questions are, then it'll be difficult to create marketing material that resonates with them. You need to understand their intent and address it directly in your copy.
The best way to do this is by using personas in your copywriting process; personas are fictional representations of real people that represent a segment of your audience, e.g., "Dave from Cincinnati" might be someone who's looking for advice on starting a business after his job laid him off.
Writing specifically for Dave will help ensure your writing resonates with him specifically, which will make him more likely to convert into a lead or customer than if you'd written generic copy that could apply to anyone.
It's also important to understand your own intent. What are you trying to achieve?
Have a clear idea of what you want your copy to do for your customers. Your goal could be a lead generation, an increase in sales, or any other desired outcome.
Your intentions could also be more complex, such as encouraging people to share your content on social channels or building brand awareness. Whatever the intention, know it and write accordingly.
Great copywriting is persuasive in nature. That’s what it’s all about: getting people to take action and buy your product or use your service.
If you want to get better at writing sales copy, then you need to learn how to write persuasively. And in order to do that effectively, you need to master the art of power phrases.
What are Power Phrases?
Power phrases are words or phrases that pack a big punch. They can instantly grab the attention of your reader — short, to the point — and make them want more from you.
You can find power phrases all over the place, from advertisements on TV to signs in store windows. They are short, but you can use them in different ways and contexts.
Use power phrases to create a sense of urgency so that you can convince readers they need whatever you are selling right now.
“This offer won’t last forever!” or “Act now and get this bonus!” or “You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity!”
What these phrases all have in common is that they create an atmosphere of urgency or scarcity so that readers feel like they have no choice but to act now if they want to avail themselves of whatever it is being offered.
Connecting Curves & Lines
The key to effective copywriting is to draw the reader in and make them want to keep reading. One of the best ways to do this is by using a combination of curves and lines.
Curves and lines are two different writing techniques that can be make your copy more interesting.
Curves Create Clarity and Continuity
These are the sentences that have a smooth flow and move from one thought to another with no interruption or break in between. The sentences start with a topic sentence and end with a conclusion sentence at the end of each paragraph.
Curves are written in such a way that they give the reader an impression that they have read only one coherent thought instead of multiple sentences.
Lines are Straight, Harsh Movements Which Create Tension in the Reader's Mind
These are the sentences which do not connect smoothly but have some sort of interruption between each line. They have a break between each line, which leads them to another thought or sentence which differs completely from the previous line.
Subtext & Tone
The subtext is the underlying meaning that is found in a piece of copy. The tone affects the mood or feeling that's evoked by the words you choose. Both are important, but they're different.
Subtext can be powerful in getting people to act, but it can also be dangerous because it's not always clear. It's like a wink or a smile — it can make someone feel good or bad about themselves based on how you use it.
You can think of it as the "truth behind the words."
For example: "I love you" means one thing when you're saying it to your spouse, but it means something completely different when you're saying it to a stranger on the subway.
You can use subtext to show off your expertise, for example. If someone asks you how many employees you have, you could say "We have over 50 employees," which is factual and straightforward (and boring).
Or you could say "Our team of experts includes over 50 people who dedicate themselves to helping companies like yours succeed."
That's vague — there's no mention of what they do, who they are or how many there are — but it leaves room for interpretation and implies that this company has a lot of employees who specialize in helping other businesses grow.
It makes them sound like an authority on their topic — which is exactly what they want their customers to think!
Tone is the attitude or feeling of a piece of writing. It's often established by the language the writer uses and by the way he or she expresses themselves. It can be serious, lighthearted, sarcastic, or ironic, just to name a few.
Tone can be difficult to define because it's subtle. The tone of a piece of writing often comes from the voice of its author; yet what you want your audience to take away from your copy influences it, too.
The tone of your copy will depend on who you're writing for, why you're writing, and what you want them to feel after reading it. It's important to remember that different people will react to different messages in different ways.
Use tone and subtext to connect with your audience on a deeper level, helping them feel more connected to your brand and make their purchase decision easier.
Voice & Style
With writing great copy, you need to know what your audience wants and needs. And if you don’t know, you need to find out.
But once you have that information, what do you do with it?
When writing copy, I always think about voice and style. Voice is how someone sounds when they speak; style is how they look when they speak.
If you can create a unique voice and style for your brand, then people will remember who you are and what you offer. It will also help them connect with your message more easily because it’s familiar to them.
What does this mean for your copy?
It means that every word in your copy should reflect the image of your brand and its voice/style. Make sure that your words match up with how people expect to hear from you in person or on social media — whether it’s friendly or professional, serious or playful, etc.
The Right Words for the Right Job
The most important thing about copywriting is understanding your audience. You need to know who you're writing for and what they want from your product or service. Only then can you find the right words to make them want that product or service.
Here are some tips:
Understand who your readers are. If you're selling a product, think about their age, gender, ethnicity and any other relevant details such as location or financial situation that might affect what they buy and why they buy it.
Understand what they're looking for in your copy. Are they looking for reassurance? For entertainment? Are they looking for a solution?
Find out how best to appeal to them through your writing style and tone of voice.
The Power of Suggestion and Euphemism. Lettuce, Sex, and Death.
The Power of Suggestion and Euphemism
Suggestion is exactly what it sounds like: using indirect language to suggest something rather than directly saying it. This can be used to great effect in any kind of writing, but it's especially useful when you're trying to sell something without making it seem like you're trying to sell something.
It's the art of making people come around to your point of view without them realizing they've been persuaded at all.
The power of suggestion is a powerful tool in copywriting. It's used to make the reader think about something without using it explicitly. When we talk about suggestion in copywriting, we’re talking about letting your reader infer something based on what you say or write.
This is why it’s so powerful as a tool — it allows your reader to fill in the blanks for themselves.
Suggestion also works by using euphemisms, which are words that can describe something, but not in its true form.
For example, if you want to talk about sex, you could say that someone had an “interesting night” or “a crazy time” or “a good night out with friends.” You never mentioned the word “sex” explicitly, but it leaves room for the reader to imagine exactly what happened.
Lettuce, Sex, and Death
Suggestions are like the tip of an iceberg: They're only seen by those who want more than what's on the surface.
But if you're writing marketing copy about something specific, such as sex or death (which aren't exactly things most people are looking to buy), then suggestions are great ways to get to the point without actually saying it directly.
For example, instead of writing "Your girlfriend is pregnant" or "Your husband is dead," you could say something like "Your girlfriend is expecting" or "Your husband passed away."
It's still clear what happened, but with a less forceful impact.
Invest in Learning the Craft
To create great copy and master copywriting, you need to devote some time to it.
Whether you are writing for your website, print material, product packaging, or anything in between, it's important to remember that every page is an opportunity for a new connection.
You are just a few small changes away from writing more persuasive and effective copy. Pick up a few more tools in your kit, practice them regularly, and you'll be on your way to writing great advertising for your business in no time.