A Copywriter’s Roadmap
5. Features vs. Benefits: Avoid Detours
Understand the difference between features and benefits, then focus on the latter. Features describe (and detour you from the good stuff). Benefits sell. They answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” It’s the old adage: “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”
Tip: Engineers and product developers love to talk about features and product specifications. Don’t let them leave the room without helping you understand the benefit every feature provides your targeted audience.
6. Scanners vs. Readers: Follow the Signs
Every word written doesn’t get read. It’s more likely to get scanned — in seconds. But when a scanner connects with what we’ve written, the momentum builds for a click or call.
Make it easy for scanners to engage quickly with your copy. Provide signage that’s fast and easy to follow:
- photo captions
- Johnson boxes
7. Self-editing: Ditch Unnecessary Baggage
Edit after you’ve set your copy aside. Pronouns such as I, we, he and she are unnecessary baggage. (So is the word that.) People rarely read blah-blah-blah copy starting with a corporate we. On the other hand, the word you connects immediately with your reader.
Use you twice as often as I or we in marketing messages. And steer clear of referring to your audience in the third person. It’s an easy edit to replace he, she and they with you.
Before: We know from experience that every client is unique and deserves a retirement plan tailored to his or her individual situation, goals and objectives.
After: You’re unique. You deserve a retirement plan tailored for you and your goals. You’ve come to the right place to get started.
8. Hot Spots: Give a Guided Tour
You don’t want your scanner/reader to miss the main attractions, do you? Don’t leave anything to chance. Team up with your designer to create hot spots that guide your scanner to key selling points, major benefits and offer elements.
Move benefits to the front of sentences, paragraphs, subject lines, teasers and preheaders. Use type fonts, color, images, violators and Johnson boxes to attract attention. Put your most important copy in these hot spots, including your CTA.
9. Call to Action: Your Final Destination
Before digital, direct mail’s rule of thumb was to include the CTA someplace — at least once — on every mailing component. In today’s digital world, placement of your CTA and what you say in it are more than just housekeeping details.
The CTA needs to stop the scanner and provide a compelling reason to respond. If your copy scrolls, you need to include more than one CTA. And there’s no law saying your CTA must read LEARN MORE or READ MORE. Promise to deliver a benefit and you’ll get more clicks. For example: “Send FREE eCards,” “Show Me My Heatmap” or “Save 30%.”
Want more copywriting tips? Check out more Message & Media columns!