Tips for Copywriters: How to Write Copy That Sells

The following is a post to from Patrick Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick speaks about copy writing. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

Writing copy for advertising material is a skill that can be mastered through practise. By applying these guidelines, one can learn how to write copy that sells a client’s products.

How to Create an Advertising Strategy

From producing long copy ads to crafting punchy headlines, copywriters are responsible for a brand’s language. Before launching into writing copy, any copywriter first needs to understand the advertising strategy.

An ad consists of two parts: the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. The ‘what’ is the strategy – the plan, the ad’s big idea or concept, its selling argument; the ‘how’ is the execution of that strategy – the particular form it takes: the images, language, layout and media placement (radio, print, television, etc.). To develop a strong strategy, copywriters need to understand three elements: the product, the consumer, and the marketplace.

  • The product: What exactly is the client selling?
  • The consumer: Who is the client selling to?
  • The marketplace: How does the client’s product (and its advertising) fit into the array around it?

In George Felton’s Advertising: Concept and Copy¬ – 2nd ed.(NY: W.W. Norton & Company) he writes, “Your goal is to understand the parts of the advertising scenario so well that you see how they all fit together – to know enough to write an ad that works, that talks to real people about real needs.” Thus writing copy for ads does not happen in a vacuum, but many elements, as mentioned above, should be considered.

How to Write Slogans

Slogans are also called taglines, theme lines or payoff lines. Many brands use these lines effectively as a means to create brand recall and recognition in the consumer’s mind. When applied correctly, slogans can contribute to a brand’s identification and increase awareness. Slogans are meant to be short, simple, to the point and easily recognisable. Here are some guidelines to help copywriters to think up slogans:


  • Elevate the product: Look for the product’s greatest benefit, emphasise it.
  • Differentiate from the competition.
  • Don’t sell features, but benefits: It’s not about what the product offers, but how those features can be turned into real benefits for the consumer.
  • Find the human truth: Say what people are thinking. Through tapping into the consumer’s mind, copywriters can make the advertising communication more real.
  • Try parallelism and opposition: By placing ideas or notions against or next to each other, copywriters can highlight the product’s benefit.
  • Tweak, twist, or add a cliché: Play around with well-known phrases, twist them and see what happens.
  • Use metaphor.
  • Play tricks with type and punctuation: If it works for the brand, bring in punctuation that adds more meaning to the message.
  • Don’t be clever, be clear: The most successful slogans are those that stick to one message and are to the point.
  • Keep it short, simple: Effective slogans are the ones that are short and crisp.
  • Above all, solve the problem: Slogans need to solve advertising problems and should say what is most needed.

Ten Tips for Writing More Effective Copy

Use the following tick list when writing copy for ads:

  • Don’t use fancy words.
  • Omit adjectives and adverbs.
  • Describe the benefit of the product, not the feature.
  • Write like the consumer speaks.
  • Keep copy focused on one main idea.
  • Focus on one, clear Unique Selling Point (USP) of the brand.
  • Try to find words that stick, like Nike’s ‘Just Do It’.
  • Check spelling. There is no excuse for a copywriter to make spelling mistakes
  • Test consumer’s reactions to the copy, adjust if necessary.
  • Craft copy again and again, until it’s just right.

Writing copy for advertising is an exhilarating and challenging profession, but one that is never dull. The most successful copywriters are those who know to apply the basic principles of writing copy, by keeping it simple.

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