Trimming the Fat – Copy Tips for Saying More With Less

Copywriting doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. From the billions of dollars in sales each day that hinge on a well-formatted sales letter, to a polished TV commercial script, to the catchy jingle or slogan you just can’t get out of your head, effective professional, persuasive writing, “copywriting,” does a lot for us as marketers.

It’s unfortunate then that copy is often neglected as a luxury expense or an unnecessary cog in many marketers’ or business owners’ sales funnels. The reason, inevitably, is cost. Good copywriters know that their words will have a direct effect on your conversion rates, and thus the money you make, and leverage that knowledge for a nice payday. It then goes to follow that many marketers begin crafting their own copy. To be honest, even if you don’t have the polish and practice of a professional, someone who is a good writer in general can learn to produce decent copy to keep them growing and selling until they can afford a dedicated copywriter. The key word there, however, is “learn.”

Amateur copy is almost always identifiable by a lack of brevity; people often write too much and get too wordy, losing their vital, important, life-changing points amongst superfluous, unnecessary adjectives and ineffective anecdotes. See what I did there? That sentence could have been a lot shorter! Today, we’ll take a look at how you can catch yourself and self-edit copy to stay effective and to the point.

1) Cut out very. The concept of “cutting out very” is probably referenced in proper copywriting books somewhere, but here’s my take on it. The tendency in sales writing is to be, well, selly. The way to do this however is with proper punctuation and, more importantly, by getting inside your audience’s head and telling them what they want to hear. Unfortunately, amateur writers usually use “filler” words. The word ‘very’ is one prominent example, because it is a false enhancer that is rarely needed. Don’t say “It’s very good,” say “it’s the best.” Another example is the use of very before the word ‘unique’, which is redundant. Something is either unique or it isn’t, it’s not “very unique.”

2) Boil it down to exactly what someone needs to know. One of the biggest things you can do to make your copywriting effective is to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re writing to. This gets you out of salesman mode and helps you think about what someone with the problem you’re offering a solution for actually wants to hear. Sometimes, doing this can help us see that what we’re put down is over the top, too selly or spammy, or even just flat out unhelpful!

3) Proofread 80 times. And I’m not just talking about any usual proofread. Sure, you’re going to be checking your spelling and grammar and making sure everything lines up, but a copywriting proofread should see you putting on another hat as well, the “could this possibly sound any better?!” hat. Read each sentence and look for words that could be dropped, phrases that could be made more appropriate for your customers, etc.

Of course, just like every facet of IM, there’s always more to learn on the copywriting front, but this should get you headed in the right direction until you can hire a personal Don Draper of your own.