Six Copywriting Tips Every Solo Professional Should Know

Here are six essential copywriting tips you can use to evaluate your own your own marketing materials (including your web site) and quickly identify any areas in need of improvement.

If you're a solo professional, it's important to have an understanding of these good ol' copywriting basics.

Why? Because when you know what constitutes good copy, you can take a look at your own marketing materials (including your web site) and quickly identify any areas in need of improvement.

And if you're a creative professional, (like a graphic designer, photographer, or illustrator) understanding the basics of good copywriting can help you better serve your clients, by being able to spot poor copy in their marketing materials and recommending a rewrite. (For which you could bring in a freelance copywriter, manage the project, and charge an additional project management fee.)

Here are six essential copywriting tips you should know. The beauty of these six tips in particular is that it's rather easy to identify when they are missing from a sample of copy. You'll be able to look at copy with a much more critical eye once you're familiar with these six copywriting essentials:

1.  "You" can make a difference.

The word "you" is perhaps the most important word in copywriting because it involves the reader with your message.  So instead of writing about what your company offers, write about what the customer gets.

Whenever you're tempted to write something like, "We offer the most advanced,", stop.  Instead, begin the sentence with "You" as in, "You get the most advanced," .

2.  Features tell, benefits sell!

Good copy clearly communicates the benefit that your product or service delivers to the customer.  Poor copy, on the other hand, merely lists features and leaves them dangling, with no explanation as to how they will benefit the customer.

Here's how you avoid that trap, as you write about the attributes of your product or serve, ask yourself, "So what?" Your answer will lead you to the benefit.

For example, the sentence, "This car comes with automatic four-wheel drive," lists a feature only. But by asking, "So what?" you'll lead yourself toward a benefit: ", so you will enjoy safe, worry-free driving, in all weather conditions."

3.  Reinforce your USP.

Make sure you remind customers of the reason(s) why they should buy from you.  Your Unique Selling Point (USP) is the characteristic of your product or service that sets you apart from the competition.  For example, ",the only downtown dry cleaners with in-by-noon, same-day service!" is a sound USP.

4.  You will not be graded for grammar.

Good copy not only avoids many conventional rules of grammar, it torments the daylights out of them!  This means you can do things that would make your grade three teacher squirm, such as starting a sentence with "And".  And writing sentences that aren't proper sentences.  Like this one.

5.  "That's" the problem.

Here's one of the simplest copywriting "“ and editing "“ tips around. Scour your copy for all occurrences of the word "that". You can often make a sentence much more readable by simply deleting this word.  And often, you can delete entire phrases connected to the word "that" without losing the meaning of the sentence.

6.  Tell the reader what to do.

How often have you seen a television commercial that ends with, "Now run down to the corner store and buy a Coke today."?  Never.  Why? Because brands like Coke have decades of user experience attached to them.  By now, their customers know what to do, so Coke can afford to spend millions on an awareness ad with no 'call to action'.

Your promotional piece, however, must have a call to action which tells the reader what to do. For example, "Visit our website for your free information guide." or "Contact me to schedule a no-obligation consultation valued at $150."

If you haven't taken a close look at your own marketing materials for a while, why not review them again, this time with these six essentials in mind. Odds are you'll spot at least one opportunity for improvement that you can that you can remedy right away.