5 Tips for Writing Great Marketing Copy

Although marketers aren’t typically viewed as writers, every aspect of great marketing requires talented writing and precise editing. If there are any doubters, just observe this example from Starbucks:

Not only is this poster confusing, it has a glaring typo. The main message– Get $1 off any pastry when you buy a beverage– is overshadowed by the “it’s.” I imagine Starbucks patrons are more discerning about grammar than most (which is why one of my friends posted this picture on Facebook).

Of course posters aren’t the only form of marketing writing. Here’s a sampling of the kinds of marketing writing most businesses need:

  • Advertising copy
  • Brochure copy
  • Sign copy
  • Website copy
  • Direct mail copy
  • Blog articles
  • Trade journal articles
  • Press releases
  • Facebook posts
  • Twitter updates
  • Product packaging
  • Radio ad scripts
  • TV ad scripts
  • Telephone scripts
  • YouTube video scripts
  • Proposals and contracts
  • Presentations
  • Speeches
  • User guides and manuals

Writing for marketing is usually termed, “copy,” which is such an uninspiring word. The Online Etymology Dictionary traces the term to its roots:

copy (n.) Look up copy at Dictionary.com
early 14c., “written account or record,” from O.Fr. copie (13c.), from M.L. copia “reproduction, transcript,” from L. copia “plenty, means” (see copious). Sense extended 15c. to any specimen of writing (especially MS for a printer) and any reproduction or imitation. Related: Copyist.

The roots of “copy” are not very exciting. We may be stuck with a word that has connotations of automation and transcripting, but we don’t need to fulfill that history. Marketing copy should be fresh and vibrant, effectively communicating your brand. Following are a few tips for writing great marketing copy:

5 Tips for Writing Great Marketing Copy

1. Cut, cut and cut

Just because marketing copy is important doesn’t mean it should exist in abundance. There’s an inverse correlation between the quality of marketing copy and its length. There’s a simple reason for this equation– customers are confronted with thousands of messages each day and have short attention spans when it comes to your product. So cut out everything that isn’t essential.

2. Communicate one message at a time

Each marketing piece a marketer writes can only communicate one message well, no matter how many messages the marketer may try to cram into the space. A postcard, a landing page, a radio ad– all of these represent a brief opportunity to communicate one message. Try to tell your company’s whole story, and customers will be overwhelmed or bored.

3. Give copy room to breathe

“White space” is the term for the spacing and margins around your copy. Spacing your words nicely and keeping the graphics surrounding the them simple will allow your copy to stand out and increase the chances customers will read it.

4. Practice makes better

Practice doesn’t make perfect. Writing is never perfect, but eventually marketers reach deadlines. Never go with the first attempt at writing copy. Edit and revise until the final product is better than when you started.

5. Let someone else read it before you publish it

Don’t publish or print marketing copy before having someone else proofread it. Your familiarity with the text will cause your brain to skip over any typos, seeing what you intended to write instead of what was actually written. I imagine that’s what happened to the poor Starbucks copywriter in the poster example.

These five marketing copy tips certainly aren’t comprehensive, but they are rules that every writer keeps in mind during each assignment. Using them every day in your marketing efforts will lead to more effective (and more interesting) marketing copy.

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