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Advice and help for would be copywriters


Because Then You'll Be As Au Fait With The Basic Principles...

Because then you'll be as au fait with the basic principles as anyone can be. Now, you know, as well as I know, that the very sensible, money-spending general public will not beat anything mildly resembling a path to your door unless you have something special to offer. That something special may be as simple as a new kind of coat-hanger, or as complicated as a three-dimensional space-invader machine which propels itself around the country having contests with other three-dimensional space-invader machines. (It could also be a lucid, informative and profoundly witty website such as this one, I suppose.

But if the public starts beating paths to my door, it had better bring a bottle.) In any event, the overriding criterion is that the 'thing' must be special. That bit of croft-spawned philosophy applies just as readily to the promotion of the product as to the product 165 66 itself. After all, where would the product be if nobody knew about it? Unsold, is the answer; and mouldering away by the tonne in somebody's cellar, like as not.

What, then, makes a piece of online advertising special in our interpretation of that word? Is it cleverness? Is it clarity? Brevity? Sex? Conformity? Or is it, when all is said and done, the research which went into the making of it? Here are thirteen carefully considered arguments in answer to the above and which, if adhered to, should turn all your ads into special ads. 1 Cleverness or clarity? I am certainly a champion of cleverness in ads - provided that it's not the kind of narcissistic cleverness which often results from a writer, a designer or (quite regularly nowadays) a typographer setting out to show the world what a brilliant chap he is. But even more I'm a champion of clarity. Advertising, as we've said at some turgid length, is a business of communication and persuasion; and perhaps the most carelessly read words in print are those in an ad. Therefore, to put it into words of one syllable - put it into words of one syllable.

By all means be as clever as you like; but not at the expense of making your message clear to people who will be reading it, if you're very lucky, with only half an eye and only a quarter of their attention. Clarity, without doubt, is the greatest single virtue an ad can have.

2 A pint jug holds no more than a pint One of the worst enemies of clarity in online advertising is the tendency to want to say too much. This is not, decidedly not, a condemnation of long copy; on the contrary, I approve of Almost final analysis 167 long copy but with the proviso that it's good long copy which it mostly isn't.

What I condemn is the attitude of mind which insists that everything favourable about a product must be said, however marginal it may be. Lord help us, most of our potential customers don't give a hoot about our main sales arguments, let alone the fringe ones. If, then, you have an ad which features half-a-dozen sales points, try revising it to feature two of them - and talk three times as much about each. Or, maybe even better make it just one and write copy six-fold.

Follow? 3 Hyperbole is a long word Few copywriters lie. Some exaggerate; and far too many overstate. But the average manufacturer has a mental block against saying that his product is only a modest 'good' or even 'better than most'; he must, he feels, say 'best'. The copywriter, therefore, in striving to give the client what he wants, follows suit. Yet, in the following, he does nobody any favours - least of all his client.

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