Less is always more!

Whilst studying for my Diploma in Copywriting with the Institute of Copywriting many years ago, I was fortunate to have a brilliant and helpful tutor who remained a firm believer in the “ less is more” concept of writing.

I remember when he marked my first assignment I remained absolutely fascinated by his hieroglyphics at the side of the page, which included such classics as:

“so what?”,  “research”, “relevance”, “one not ten”, “me, me, ,me”, “count” and “who cares?”

Initially I took these comments quite personally until I plucked up the courage to ask him what they actually meant. Below are the meanings and whilst they took me a while to get used to, they are now part of my bible of copywriting. Regardless of whether you are writing for websites, articles, adverts, brochures, radio, TV or direct mail letters, these comments are as true today as they were over 18 years ago!

Here are my 7 golden rules for great copy:

  1. So what? – does it tell the reader something interesting and/or is essential to them making a decision?
  2. Research – you need to know who you are writing for before you begin writing. Do your research on the target audience and then write accordingly.
  3. Relevance – the whole point of writing something is to provoke a reaction in the reader – if it’s not relevant to them and in a language they understand, don’t include it.
  4. One not ten – don’t waffle; use the least amount of words to say what you mean. In other words be succinct.
  5. Me, me me – the reverse is always true in writing. You need to include more you and less I or we.
  6. Count – double check the number of words in a sentence (not more than 25) and sentences in a paragraph (not more than 3). If you use more, you will lose people’s attention as they continue to read on.
  7. Who cares? – if on second reading you find that what you have written doesn’t make you excited, you probably need to re-write it in a more accessible and engaging style.

So next time you are writing something remember by 7 golden rules of copywriting and you won’t go far wrong. Alternatively if you would like someone to do all the clever thinking and writing for you, then hire a professional and qualified copywriter.