One pitfall that many copywriters fall into is the desire to give away too much…
Copywriting 101: Writing With Authority
Building authority is one of the keys to modern copywriting, but it often proves to be far easier said than done. After all, not everyone can be a true expert on anything. In fact, some of us are probably just running around in life trying to figure things out. Guess what? Not too many people want to listen to that person, because most people are busy looking for answers or new ideas to contemplate. This means that the people that cannot write with authority are essentially shooting themselves in the foot with their own copy.
Here are a few simple rules to follow to avoid mistakes that come all too naturally, especially to those with a penchant for honesty:
Practice brevity. People who dance around a point and never get to it are poor sales people and write poor copy. Walk into a new car sales floor and ask the manager for the best salesperson and see how this person gets right down to business. What are you looking for? Great! We have something that fits those needs, let me show it to you and arrange for a test drive! May I see your ID please, how are we going to arrange financing for you today? While there are times when it is good to talk at length about points, one of the best ways to appear authoritative is to take the proverbial wheel.
An Alternate Point of View
Since an article or video is largely one-sided, consider interjecting comments on behalf of the reader. ‘I know what you’re thinking…I was thinking it too…’ or ‘This is usually the time when a frugal person starts to wonder if this is a good investment, but consider this…’ are great ways to control both parts of the conversation and put the reader in the shoes you want them in. It will not work with everyone, but that is simple part of the sales process to which copywriting is a core component.
Do Not Hedge Too Often
There are times when hedging a statement is a good idea, but frequent hedging makes one seem too cautious or timid. There are few things that people respect in leaders more than what appears to be iron resolution, and ultimately the act of copywriting is a process of gaining followers in this era. Stop using words that take away the emphasis of a statement. For example: ‘Most people would agree that muscles look sexy’ is not nearly as effective as ‘muscles look sexy.’
Of course, there are those times when a hedge is a good idea. This is especially true when looking at something that can be quantified relatively simply. For example: ‘When Obama took office, most Americans thought that he would do a great job’ is certainly more candid and honest than simply stating unequivocally that ‘When Obama took office, Americans thought that he would do a great job.’
A key component of copywriting is the willingness to research and ask hard questions. The hard questions really come in the form of statistics and sources, both of which can be far less reliable in an era where the so-called legitimate news offerings of the world are offering nothing short of narrative in lieu of facts. This puts a lot of emphasis on copywriters to construct narratives that are compelling, but remember that people do see through it. Sometimes it is good to appeal to those who are ‘drinking the Cool-Aid’ but most of the time it is better to try to present both sides of the story, even if one side will be heavily favored.
Remove Doubt With Honest Techniques
People stop reading, and certainly do not buy, when they have doubt. Effective copywriting seeks to remove all doubt. Doubt that the author is credible, doubt about a product or service, doubt about facts, doubt about whether a proffered course of action is advisable. To this end, wise copywriters cover a problem from several points of view and will fully admit when one or more points of view do not work in favor of a narrative that they want to construct. A touch of integrity will earn return visits and potentially cause people to share a site or link, and that is probably worth a lot more than a single click through.
Tips to Take Away:
- Get to the point quickly and stay on point. Tangents are the enemy!
- Don’t be shy of opposing view points; overcome them.
- Hedging can be a great tool for honesty, but it is not interesting. Less hedging and more definition is important.
- Research can impress, even when it is discounted due to lack of objectivity.