Guide to Writing Good Copy

Good copy is important for a range of marketing activities. You need good copy for sales letters, direct mail flyers, email, printed advertising, websites and online advertising. Effective written communication is important within a company and with suppliers and other stake holders so this in a way is also a chance to produce good copy too.

To write good copy first you need to clearly define what you want the response to the copy to be. Usually you will want to achieve one or more of the following:

  • Educate – make people aware of something. This may be your brand, products, services or just something important you want to make people more aware of.
  • Consider / Think – absorb and think about what you are saying e.g. “how often do you have to buy new ink cartridges”
  • Persuade – to take a specific action / response. E.g. pick up the phone, go to your website, attend an event or tell their friends and family about you

A lot of the time you will want people to do all three. Don’t just pick which of the three above is relevant, you need to clearly define exactly what you want the response to your copy to be. To achieve these goals it is best to have a structure to your copy. Below is an example structure to a leaflet that is intended to be delivered door to door to local business and houses:

1) Get their attention – usually with a heading that asks a question

2) Quickly give them a “hook” – to keep them reading until the end

3) Give them an overview / summary – this allows them to quickly check what it is they are about to read. If you don’t get to the point quickly they won’t want to keep reading through the whole leaflet in the hope it might be relevant to them.

4) Make your offer – this is the bulk of the content. Try to make it personal instead of referring to yourself in the third person. It is much easy to say nowhen reading “ABC Ltd does this for our customers” then “WE can do this for YOU..”

5) Overcome any likely objections – cost, delivery time, delivery method, quantity, quality, any guarantee or warrantee and so on.

6) Build credibility – do this through testimonies or talking about experience and remember to keep it personal and relevant. So instead of “ABC Ltd have 5 years experience” it should say “WE have been helping customers like YOU for over 5 years”,

7) A call to action – there should in fact be several of these. One at the top,one within the main copy and one at the end.

So, here is some example copy following the above points. I have put the relevant points in brackets.

(1)How Often Do You Have To Buy New Ink Cartridges?

(2) We could save you a lot of money and help the environment by refilling those used ink cartridges.

(3) We offer a quick and affordable cartridge refilling service. We provide you with self addressed packaging to send us your used cartridges. Our experts fill them up and send them back next day delivery. The refilled cartridges work as good as new.

(4) If you are interested in becoming another one of out satisfied customers then contact us today. We will send you the self addressed packaging free of charge. To prevent any delay you should order the packaging now so you have them ready for when your cartridges run out.

As soon as your cartridges run out package them and send them to us. We will fill them up from as little as £10 per cartridge and send them back next day delivery

Our unique patented refill system is quick, cost effective and affordable. It is also much more environmentally friendly then buying expensive new cartridges. We also thoroughly clean the inside and outside of the cartridge to keep them working as good as new.

(5) You can pay for your refill by bank card by telephone or even online. We also accept postal cheques. Check our website for a full list of cartridge models we can refill and the exact cost for your cartridge.

6) “Since hearing about Refill ABC Ltd I have not bought a single new ink cartridge. With their help I have saved a lot of money which has added to my company’s profit” – Mr Smith, XYZ Ltd

7) Call today to make sure you have your packaging ready as soon as those cartridges start to run out again.

For any kind of mail shot you may want to add a specific special offer such as 20% of your first order if they order before a set date.

It is important to check afterwards how effective your copy has been if you want to get better at producing it. The best way to do this is not to look at the copy itself but the response it elicited. This is true for all forms of communication. So if you send out a leaflet to 10,000 homes and get a response rate that was ½% higher then last time then your copy and communication was better. If the response was lower then your copy was not as good regardless of how cleverly worded and persuasive you may think it was.

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