“Whether you have a website or are testing other channels of communication like email, catalogues, flyers, direct pitches, headlines etc, fear not, the fundamentals are the same, you still have a short space of time to convey your message and get interest but the question is how selective do you need to be with your words?…”

I know what you are thinking… “I have read this somewhere before”…and you would be right as it was the closing paragraph of last week’s blog but it also serves a dual purpose as a great opener for this week’s topic.

When I was starting out in my copywriting career and found myself all too often staring at a blank page, a very good friend of mine would say to me “it’s better to have something written down rather than nothing”.  This is advice that I call upon on almost a daily  basis and which has led my planning style to become somewhat unconventional.  I may start with an idea, it then may grow legs, I might have seemingly random words scribbled in each of the four corners of my page and I may even draw the odd tangent arrow but in the end it all comes together into a coherent piece of text.  My point is, that sometimes you need to be able to pick the important information from what you’re writing in order to adapt it to your specific form of communication.    This is why we have headlines, subheads and then the opening paragraph, so each piece of information is given its own stage if you will.

So when adapting or cutting text the information you keep has to be relevant, if you have to explain yourself then you are probably off the beaten track and quite far down the garden path.  If you simply can’t avoid using large pieces of text then separate them into short, manageable paragraphs each containing one or two pieces of information. This makes a piece far more easy to read and the information is likely to be retained better than if it was given in one go.

Get to the point and don’t beat about the bush with your writing.  If you are writing a conversational piece it is ok to use the odd filler word or phrase but most selling copy requires to be informative and persuasive at the same time whilst maintaining a professional tone so be positive and confident in what you write.

Pick out important pieces of text, usually the main USPs, with bullet points to make them stand out as being noteworthy.  This is technically a visual aide too as it draws the attention of the reader to each separate point but it only really works if the points are short and punchy…otherwise they technically become sentences.

Speaking of visual aides, use images if need be to bolster your text, an aesthetically pleasing balance of visual and text can be just as effective as a screed of words…plus I do believe the phrase is ‘a picture says a thousand words…’

Don’t scrimp on important details. You may think that you could talk for hours about your product or services and quite likely, justifiably so.  But you need to know which information to give straight away and which can be revealed at a later date.  To do this effectively it is imperative that you know your target market as you can then determine which pieces of information are most relevant and therefore need to be highlighted.

Always make space for your contact details.  I know complacency shouldn’t come into something as important as this but sometimes contact details are ‘left out’ as a company logo is featured instead.  Whilst this can be seen as O.K. when dealing with your existing customers, it will leave new and potential ones spending valuable time looking for you…if they bother at all!

And finally, whatever you have to write, no matter how long it is or where it is going to be featured it must be true to your company image and tone.  All your marketing is an extension of the company and its products and will require thought and planning – I bet my unconventional methods don’t sound so silly now!?

As writing and words have been the topics of the past couple of blogs I think that next week I will change direction and focus on the pictures and visuals and how having the right images can be just as important as the right words.

Turning the corner when cutting copy

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