The Art of Wordsmithing — How to Identify Really Great Copy

Truly great copywriters are true “wordsmiths” — they agonize over the choice of each and every word, because they know that each word can have a significant effect on response.   Here are just a few of our favorite “wordsmithing” tips:

1. The Art of Assumption

“When you have this tool at your fingertips . . .”

The assumptions you make within your copy can help move the reader towards responding. The idea is you ASSUME the reader is going to take advantage of your offer, and your copy helps to visualize the benefits they’ll enjoy as a result.

So banish statements like “IF you buy now . . .”.

Change them to “WHEN you order . . .”

You want to move the reader past the decision to respond, and focus on the RESULTS of responding. ASSUME they’re going to respond, and write your copy with this “assumptive” tone.

Instead of “Please attend . . .”,

consider “Your reservation number is xxx — please confirm by xx/xx.”

2. Imperative Mode

Tell your audience what to do.

  • On your website:  “Get Started Now” or “Start Here.”  “Get the eBook”  “Download the Guide”  “Reserve your place”
  • On your envelope: “See inside . . .”
  • In your letter: “Read on . . .” At the bottom of page 1 of your letter: “over please.”   And everywhere you talk about the next step: “Complete and mail today . . .”

3. Focus on Feelings

A recent DM News article recalled the wisdom of William Bernbach, founder of the powerhouse agency Doyle Dane Bernbach . . .

     Companies focus on features, while consumers focus on feelings

“You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You’ve got to say it in such a way that people will feel it in their gut. Because if they don’t feel it, nothing will happen.” 

Don’t forget to incorporate one of the 8 key emotional drivers into your selling copy — in print ads, direct mail, email, and your website. The 8 are: anger, fear, guilt, flattery, exclusivity, salvation, greed, and patriotism.  These 8 tend to be the strongest emotions for driving response.

4.  Add an “S” to Verbs

Adding an “s” to appropriate verbs in your benefit copy gives the positive impression that the product is doing the work, rather than the prospect.

  • For example, “It cleans and shines” versus “You’ll clean and shine”