The Power of Creative Copywriting

By: Alexa Lacuna

Some organisations produce their own copy - writing is easy, they think. After all, anyone can pick up a pen. But using a non-professional writer is like using a junior doctor to perform a heart transplant. The operation may be competent, but will the heart work?

Let's say you have a product to sell or a service to provide. Perhaps you're a charity looking for donations, or maybe you need to raise awareness of a particular issue.

Whatever the aim of your message, if you communicate it effectively, you'll get results.

Professional copy should sparkle. The words should leap off the page and demand to be read. A professional copywriter will grab the reader's attention and keep it. More importantly, a copywriter will craft the copy so the reader will act, whether it's to buy your product, arrange a health check or sign a petition.

It's all about using language to draw the reader in and convince him to think or act in a certain way.

Know your audience

Let's say your reader is a student, and the copy is a flier for a new club. People tend to only glance at fliers, so visual impact is vital. Use short, eye-catching words or phrases to grab attention: "TONIGHT!" "FREE DRINKS", "FIRST-NIGHT MADNESS", then bullet points for key information.

But if your copy is for a brochure persuading the over 60s to book a luxury cruise, the tone and style will be different.

These readers want to linger, savouring the details of the luxurious cabins, the 5-star entertainment and the gourmet dining. They'll enjoy picturing themselves on deck, drinking fine wine and watching an exquisite sunset.

But they'll also want information: What is included in the price? How do I pay? The style should be conversational, like a chat with a friend.

Break up text with bullet-points to summarise:

* 14 nights all inclusive

* On board casino

* Fine dining

Or for additional information:

* Last minute deals

* Online booking

* Insurance discount

Keep it moving

Modern attention spans are short and, whoever your target reader is, the copy needs to move along, to engage, involve. If your reader loses interest, you lose your reader.

Here's how to keep it snappy:

* Make it readable, but never patronising

* Break up the text using bullet points, 'more info` boxes, subheads, or stand-alone quotes: "Best cruise I've ever had." Ann Smith, Devon

* Choose short words and phrases: 'so' instead of 'therefore'; 'now' rather than 'at this point in time'

* Sentences and paragraphs should also be short, but vary length for better rhythm

* Linking words - but, so, and - move the reader forward, as do questions, because they want an answer, don't they?

* Use the active not passive voice: 'Our company did a great job' has more impact than 'a great job was done by our company'

* And finally: edit ruthlessly

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