May 02, 2007

Copywriting: Developing Style

Are advertising copywriters akin to writers and poets? Not a chance! So ok, words are the tools of their trade. But the similarities end there. Copywriter… you aren’t no poet, or author. Burry that thought. Have you? Good. Let’s continue.

Now, you’re sitting down to write copy. What do you do besides staring at a blank page or wiggling your toes? Write! Simply write without thought for style, to begin with. Remember that you are this passionate sales man behind a keyboard. And that it’s persuasion that you must bring into your copy. Lots of it.

But you must be interesting.

Like if you were to write a diary entry, a personal entry, how would you write it? “Got up from bed. Sat up on bed. Walked to the loo.” That’s boring! You gotta weave in a story. You must be interesting, even if you’re talking about your dentist’s appointment. Psst! It’s this story telling that will help you develop style. Your own style. (Yup, good copywriters have their very own style that might have taken them years to develop.)

Then again, you must be able to write in many voices. One for each client. That should have been obvious, you’d think. Not so. There are copywriters out there who can only write in one style no matter what client they are dealing with.

Dear mono-style copywriter, guess what?

The best copywriters out there believe that the same writing style in every piece of copy, even if it is elegant, is missing out on powerful ways to differentiate clients. They believe that it is every copywriter’s responsibility to create unique personalities for their clients. So “copy for a skincare client should sound different from copy for a power tool client. Different vocabulary, different sentence construction, different language rhythms.”

So the next time an assignment comes your way here’s how you should begin. Gather all the facts you can find. Dig it all up. All of it from everywhere. Interesting tidbits. Amusing facts. All of it. Then see if you can sort it in a manageable way. Maybe you’d want to keep aside bits for now.

Come back later and attack the copy for flow and style. Here’s a cue: style is dictated by the product itself.

(This is the author’s version on the above topic from ‘ Cutting Edge Advertising’ by Jim Aitchison.)

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