Good writing is a joy to read.
You might look at the work of a particular writer and be blown away by their skill.
But remember, like so much artistry, writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.
There have been literary geniuses who were capable of pouring streams of words from their head onto the page in one go, but this is beyond most mortals – and it is beyond me too!
In all the time I’ve been a professional writer – more than 10 years now – I’ve never supplied marketing copy that hasn’t been very carefully and closely edited.
As I said in another post, copywriting can be seen as a more exacting art than journalism in that marketing copy has an important, ongoing job to do.
My previous piece on editing urged writers not to jump straight into the actual editing process before they had read their piece in these 5 specific ways:
1. Read for sentence length
2. Read for nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs
3. Read for tone of voice
4. Read for structure
5. Read aloud
So let’s assume that all of that is covered, and now we’re in editing mode.
When we edit marketing copy, we are working in much the same way as a film editor. As with film, editing makes or breaks the final piece – so we need to devote significant time and effort to this process.
Here are 7 steps to ensure your editing is successful.
1. Don’t be precious. There is nothing in what you have written that you shouldn’t be prepared to delete, if that is what ends up being required.
‘Writer’s block’, where the writer does not know where to go next, often comes about because there is something that should have been cut from the piece, but the writer couldn’t do that because they were somehow ‘wedded’ to it.
Getting rid of a sentence, paragraph or idea often frees up your thinking and opens new channels or ideas.
2. Re-order your ideas. Have you got things the right way round? Do points flow logically, one to another? You might be surprised how often a switch in paragraphs can improve the flow of a piece. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.
3. Work the intro. The headline concept will often come from the main theme of your body text. Identify that and move it to the top, so that other ideas stem from it.
4. Craft the headline. When you’ve followed step 3, creating the headline becomes a whole lot easier. Draft 5 or 6 headlines that sum up and also intrigue -then aim to chop 2 or 3 words from each.
5. Go away. Leave your work alone and go and do something else not to do with reading or writing. Don’t return to it for at least an hour.
It’s a well documented fact that after a while our brains tire and we stop being able to think so clearly. After you’ve chilled for a while, come back and you’ll almost certainly see your writing in a whole new way.
6. be ruthless in the final cull. We just don’t realise how many superfluous words we use. So cut your word count by a third. You’ll be amazed by what you were able to cut out.
The benefit is that your writing will be much more ‘punchy’.
7. Check the call to action. When you have the piece how you want it, make sure it ends on a strong note. A call to action doesn’t have to be a ‘buy it now’ statement. it could be a link to another piece, or perhaps some kind of challenge for your reader.
Whatever it is, make sure your piece ends in some kind of call to action.
So there we have it – 7 tips for editing marketing copy. Follow these, and your writing will not only be be sharper and easier to read, it will also increase the chances of evoking a response in your readers.
I hope you found these tips to be useful for editing marketing copy. Look out for my next series of articles on effective business marketing strategies.