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How important is body copy?
If you have to ask, ask a pro.
A great headline catches the eye and the mind. But it doesn't
close the sale. That's the function of body copy.
Copy can be long, or short. It depends on the sales situation, the medium, your audience, the product or service,
space available, competitive factors, product personality, and much more.
Don't fall for the plea that long copy is always too long. Advertising copy should be as long as necessary, no longer.
(Or, as the King advised Alice in Wonderland, "Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end, then stop.")
Avoid wordiness, puffery and redundancy.*
But include whatever copy points are necessary
to make the Call To Action seem like common sense.
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* A classic bodycopy example
An old sales maxim says to
"Tell them what you're going to tell them ... tell them ... then tell them what you told them."
certain validity to that, but in ad copy, use moderation, please.
The personal salesperson has the opportunity to gauge the prospect's interest, pause as necessary,
probe, customize the pitch, and divert with friendly chit-chat. In print or online, the copywriter doesn't have
So we need to replicate those abilities. Employ artfulness, variety and skill.
Repetition might be okay, even advisable. But present the reprise in a
different way, or with added value (maybe a "clincher"). Consider
making it a sidebar, caption, summary or pullquote. Make it all fascinating, and give your reader options.
Do people turn away? Do some people's eyes glaze over when they see long copy? Yes, but that has ALWAYS been the case.
And are those people even prospects? Funnel and focus on those who are. Whether the point of sale is direct or further
along in the chain, draw the reader in. Write to involve. Write to convert.
Remember newspapers' "inverted pyramid" principle – put the lede and meat of the story up top. But unlike a newspaper, as people read on, don't
let the story dwindle and peter out. Maintain interest and move them to your desired action.
Write to your prospect's self-interest. There's a classic tale, of a conversation between a writer and his boss or prospective employer. I've heard
various versions. Most likely it was clothier Max Hart and his Ad Manager. The manager said, I'll write a page full of text and you will read
every word of it. I need tell you only the headline: "This page is all about Max Hart."
Even with today's data mining and management techniques, you
may not have the luxury of such personalization, but you should understand what interests and motivates
your reader or listener.
It's not about the word count, or even just about the words. If the copy gets long, it's up to the Art Director and Copywriter to work together and
make the text visually, emotionally and rationally appealing. Make it interesting. Don't
just draw the eye; also draw the mind.
Ally yourself with a thoughtful Art Director. Enticement and readability requires collaboration. Or your ability
to wear both hats. The copy/design team has a large box of tools available. As with any tool, use them with knowledge, experience,
and care. Consider subheads, crossheads, sidebars, images, captions,
bullets, eyebrows, bold leads, a summary, more paragraph breaks, sentence variety, sections, whatever it takes. Like the copy itself,
the design should be intriguing from all angles.
Make it easy for the reader to scan. Lead with your key message and somehow shine a spotlight on it.
Then break the copy into bite-sized chunks that lead one to another. Let the reader read, digest, and – if you've done things
well – they may continue. But enable them to break off at any point and skip to the end, or click for the next step.
However much they will read, your layout should drect the eye to your offer, the clincher, Call To Action, or sale.
Say it shorter if you can. With a rhetorical paring knife and some extra time, it's often possible to shorten copy
significantly, without deleting copy points. Not only does it make the copy and layout potentially more inviting, it makes
the writing easier to read. You might even omit some minor copy points or some "reasons why" ... so you won't seem to be
stretching your argument, and instead are focused on benefits and other essential points. The determining factor?
Include as much as it takes to persuade.
That's the major difference between a Marketing Copywriter and a general Writer. Knowing how to do all that
– and why it's important – is part of being a professional Copywriter. Never mind if it's an ad, a blog post,
or editorial content. The nature of the content and the tone will vary, but if your ultimate goal is a sale, the readability
and reader self-interest principles are the same.
An experienced copywriter understands that Advertising is "salesmanship in print," rather than just a matter of writing well.
And an experienced salesman knows that to get the order, first you have to speak to the prospect's interests. That's why, in many
cases and many ways, there is no significant difference between "Copywriting" and
"User Experience" (UX) Writing." Readers will read
as long as you clearly meet their needs.
However simple or complex your copywriting needs, call 718-577-0005 or write
me to discuss in detail.