7 ways that copywriters use tone differently to you, and how to decide if you want this in your marketing material.
1. Defined headline styles.
Copywriters tend to stick with lists, questions or imperatives in their headings. For example, ‘5 things not to say on Twitter’, ‘How effective is your branding?’ and ‘Protect your intellectual property’. That’s because these headlines are hooks – they suggest a solution to a problem, forcing the reader to continue to the body of the text to find out the answer.
Use this if: You want to tell the reader clearly what you’re writing about.
Avoid this if: You want a headline with a little more mystery.
2. Teensy paragraphs.
Both online and in news-style writing, copywriters often hit the return after each sentence, so it’s a self-contained paragraph. This creates lots of white spaces, helping the reader navigate down your page.
Use this if: You have a clear point to make for each sentence, and the body copy is no longer than 300 words.
Avoid this if: Your body copy is 300-words plus, and each paragraph needs lots of descriptive content.
3. Lots of short sentences.
Copywriters love short sentences. Often with just a few words, and the grammar broken up to imitate spoken English. It’s simply a style that has been in vogue for the last decade or two.
Use this if: You like this style.
Avoid this if: You and your customers like to be addressed in more descriptive, lyrical language.
4. Separate sentence for clauses that emphasise.
This style goes hand-in-hand with the short sentences described above, where copywriters break up the grammatical flow for effect. Like this.
Use this if: As above, use if you like this style.
Avoid this if: As above, avoid this if you are confident that your brand identity entails a wordier style of language – not always a bad thing.
5. Short, simple words.
I’d advocate using simple word choice to anyone, no matter their line of business. That includes words like ‘use’ instead of ‘utilise’, or ‘within 24 hours’ instead of ‘at your earliest possible convenience’.
Use this if: You want your message to be clear and succinct.
Avoid this if: You don’t care whether people understand you or not, and you’re happy for your marketing materials to sound like they’ve been written by a dusty, fusty senior.
6. Emphasis on ‘you’ and not ‘us’.
As business owners, it’s tempting to focus on how good your products and services are. But good copy always focuses on the dilemma being faced by the customer, and the opportunities that await if only they could solve this dilemma. It establishes an implied dialogue in your copy – a conversation about ‘your’ problem and ‘our’ solution to this.
Use this if: You want to stoke your customers’ interest in your product or service.
Avoid this if: You think you’ll still have customers’ attention even after droning at them in a monologue.
7. Minimal content.
It’s easy to get carried away describing the wealth of services you offer. But it’s hard work for readers to digest too many words. A good copywriter knows how to boil one paragraph down into one punchy sentence.
Use this if: You want to help your reader decide quickly whether to do business with you or not.
Avoid this if: You’re scared to pick the one or two concepts that stand for 10 things your business offers.
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