Copywriting when you’re short on time (or cash)
21st January 2023
Sometimes the money just isn’t there to bring in the experts.
Because the budget hasn’t refreshed yet, or Pete’s spent it all on Pot Noodles again.
So if you need to DIY for a bit, or forever, here are some shortcuts to improving your copy.
Opposites and pairs create a sense of familiarity and rhythm. Sure they might feel cheap and easy, but try pretending you don’t like Apple's 'Twice As Fast, Half The Price'. If you’re really short on time, you can often get away with 'Hello This, Goodbye That.'
Unexpected endings create surprise, which is memorable. Apple's version: "The best thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone." Talk about your product in a way that will make people pause. That's what headlines are for.
And never forget puns. Don't listen to anybody who says wordplay doesn't work any more. A competitor to Microsoft Excel once launched their product with "Enough of this sheet." Brilliant.
(Don't forget that even the best headlines sometimes need to be seen in-situ. Read about this in: How to art-direct your copywriting.)
Long paragraphs are the bane of most writing. It's 2023 and you're a grown up, stop obeying the rules your English teacher taught you. He didn't even have the internet. Keep your sentences short and punchy, keep your paragraphs to a few lines, use white space to your advantage. The aim is to make your writing readable – and you have to make sure that applies to paper, phone, and computer. Play fast and loose. And don't mention the irony of this being the longest paragraph of my tips.
Front load your content wherever you can. Introductions are for essays, start delivering value as early as possible. 9 times out of 10, you can probably delete the first third of your work without losing anything.
Clarity beats cleverness. Humans like to see claims backed up by numbers (and complexities explained simply.) Think like your customer and tackle their objections one-by-one.
Number one rule: don't use "why not." It's lazy and naff. When you say "why not sign up today?" in your CTA, it looks like you don't have a good reason why, and you're making the reader do the work for you. And unless you've got a good reason for an ultra minimalist approach, the same goes for "Apply" or "Buy."
If you can use a pain point as your CTA, especially if you've already referenced it in your headline or body copy, it works wonders. It's like a callback in comedy. Closes the loop and feels all warm and fuzzy. So for that Excel competitor I mentioned earlier, a good CTA button for them might be "Get me off Excel" or "Goodbye Microsoft."
And, if your brand voice allows for it, colloquialism converts. Don't say "Sign up", say "I'm in." Don't say "Get your free kit", say "Gimme." Don't say "Get started", say "Let's go."