Copywriting is, in most cases, the art of writing cogently for promotional purposes. According to Copyblogger's "Copywriting 101," "copywriting involves strategically writing words that promote a person, product, business, opinion, or idea, with the ultimate intention of having the reader take some form of action." For most copywriters, the intention is to sell, thereby making copywriting a rather lucrative practice-that is, if delivered well. Companies contract copywriters to help strengthen their brand identity and voice (whether it be by writing web copy, articles, press releases and/or blogs), thereby delivering a powerful message to their audience. And since this initial message can often govern reader response, the message need be a cogent one.
Uncovering the formula for good copywriting is one thing; delivering superb copy is another altogether. Concisesness, vivid imagery, and a persuasive edge are all imperative, as these three elements lay the foundation for solid copy. How then, does the wordsmith achieve this sharp, vital message for his or her clients? Once again, I turn to Copyblogger's founding editor Brian Clark who, like me, attributes successful copywriting to the 4 P's.
With a solid promise, there's little peril. As you've already learned, your copy must be concise, vivid, and persuasive, each word a dazzling, telling entity that contributes to a strong, unified message. Sound daunting? Maybe, but it shouldn't be if your promise is solid. Catch the reader's attention with a promising yet realistic heading. Tell the reader pointedly how she or he will benefit from the product or service you're offering. The reader will remain engaged if he or she feels that there is something to be gained.
Peak reader interest with a vivid portrait. Language is a powerful medium; culture is testament to that. Compelling words have traversed every genre-from music and literature to politics and religion- galvanizing and inspiring audiences from every walk of life.
Effective language has the power to seduce. Utilize this power by tapping into the reader's innate desires with vibrant language; tickle his or her imagination with colorful, alluring imagery. As Clark phrases it, "Get the reader to imagine him/herself enjoying the benefit of a desired outcome." If, for instance, a traveler desires a decadent vacation, titillate his/her wanderlust with an intoxicating nightlife description or sweeping landscape panorama. Draw the reader into the description; make the reader envision himself drifting along azure waters or basking in a balmy climate. Here, verbs and adjectives become your best friend.
Proof can seal the deal. Incorporate statistics to support your assertions- nobody wants a flimsy allegation. Show that your words, however promising, aren't hollow. Allay reader suspicion with a veritable source, like a study, solid facts, or even a chart (if necessary).
Galvanize your reader. After you've committed to the reader-that is, you've made your promise, assembled a glowing portrait, and injected some tangible proof-drive the message home with a final, cogent message. Reiterate your initial message, but keep it tight and to the point. Galvanize the reader to make a concrete commitment. Leave the reader feeling resolute and elated, and nothing else.