The art of the invisible
If someone commented on my work and said, ‘That’s poor writing’, I’d be disappointed. But if someone (beside my client) said, ‘That’s excellent writing’, I’d be likely to be disappointed too.
Because my copywriting has nothing to do with me and everything to do with my client. I don’t want to be known for a style – let’s leave that to the journos.
Effective marketing copy is invisible. Otherwise it has no focus.
Good copywriting focuses readers on what is being highlighted, promoted or sold. It takes them easily to where they need to go and it enables to make decisions.
If the writing is ‘puffed up’ or self -conscious, that focus is lost.
Take a look at two examples to see what I mean.
We’re inviting you to consider the appreciable difference between the standard style of up-and-over garage door opening and the new smooth-glide automatically controlled door.
This equips you with the kind of flexibility that will enhance the way you can access your garage at any particular time. At Winterfruit Doors we pride ourselves on a total commitment to designing and building the kind of hardwearing yet attractive garage door which will enhance your home. It’s got just the right kind of weather-resistant surface to make maintenance a joy, as all you have to do is wipe it clean with a soft cloth.
This is pretty hard work – I’m sure you agree. It’s not good copywriting because the words are getting in the way of the selling.
This writer needs to lose the ‘we’ or ‘us’ focus and get straight to the product’s features and benefits. They must forget what they, as suppliers or vendors, are doing.
This writer also needs to look at sentence length. Three very long sentences don’t do much for the rhythm of the piece. Now look at this:
The smooth-glide garage door lets you access your garage at any time – in a way that the standard up-and-over garage door just can’t.
Winterfruit Doors are weather resistant and their attractive appearance adds to the value of your home. Maintenance is easy too. Just wipe the door clean with a soft cloth.
This is much easier to read because it has better balance or rhythm. And it focuses simply and directly on the product, not on the vendor.
When you read the first piece, you’re intensely aware that you are reading something because you are working hard to reach the meaning. Whereas you don’t have to do much work to get the meaning of the second piece.
It’s natural to want to put yourself at the centre of the picture. But there is much to be gained by actively taking yourself out of the picture, especially when you are promoting or selling. This is the heart and soul of good copywriting. So – lose the ‘us’ and the ‘we were established in…’ ‘we’re a brilliant company because’ kind of writing.
There’s no ‘we pride ourselves…’ in the second piece. The focus is on the product. So do bear this in mind.
So to summarise. Make your writing invisible by:
- Having a ‘you’ rather than a ‘we’ focus – taking yourself out of the picture
- Avoiding overly long sentences and using a variety of shorter and longer sentences
- Focusing on the product’s features and then benefits
I hope you’ve found these tips useful. Talk to me if you’d like to hear some more.