5 Steps to Write Great Copy


October 15, 2013


That’s what I would scream at my parents when I wanted, well, ice cream. Needless to say, I didn’t get any that way.

As I got a little older and wiser, around age 4, I learned that when I screamed for ice cream, you screamed for ice cream, and we all screamed for ice cream, nobody got any darn ice cream. However, I then learned that a little tact, a little style, and a lot of persuasion went a long way. Sometimes even in a double scoop, rainbow sprinkles on top, chocolate-dipped sugar cone kind of way. The same goes for great copy. You can’t just shout aimless commands at your audience and hope for sweet results—you’ll be screaming for a long time. Use this approach to write great copy that not only delivers your message, but motivates people to take action as well.

1.              Know Your Audience

First things first, know who you’re talking to. I knew that if I wanted ice cream from dad, I had to go about that in a very different way than if I wanted ice cream from mom or grandma. Keep your target demo in mind and speak their language. Know which buttons to push and what will appeal to them.

2.              Define Your Objective

Determine the ultimate goal of what your copy should accomplish. Do you want to make your audience laugh? Think? Subscribe to your mailing list? Come to an event? Go to your website? Buy your product? If you want a direct response, a definitive CTA might be more in line. If you’re trying to build a relationship, don’t be too pushy with your words. Instead, try to connect with your audience rather than drive them with a hard sell.

3.              Be Clear, Get Specific

Once you have established who your audience is and what they value and determined the overall objective of your writing, you need identify the what. What is it that you’re trying to say? What is it you want to convey? What do you want your audience to know? Whatever it is, your message should be easy to understand. However, it’s not necessarily what you say, it’s how you say it—proceed on to number four.

4.              Say It with Style

As much as you might want to scream for ice cream or blatantly say “buy this product,” you can’t—trust me, I KNOW. You’re trying to get someone to do what you want without saying exactly what you want them to do. You’ve got to be persuasive and being persuasive means you’ve got to use the right words in the right context. No matter if you’re writing long or short copy, a little creativity can go a long way. For long copy, develop a certain voice or style, and for shorter copy, be concise, but clever. Use power words (like these) and pick verbs over adjectives.

5.              Speak to a Sentiment

You can’t tell your audience to think or feel a certain way, but you can make them think or feel a certain way. Relate to them personally, invoke feelings or memories, spark fear or interest, inspire them or motivate them. If you’re able to make your audience feel something, especially what you wanted them to feel, you’ve done your job. And you’ve done it well.