3 essential but ‘forgotten’ copywriting techniques

Thanks to the Internet, the copywriting world has changed dramatically. Much of it is for the better — such as the need for more copywriting — but some of our hard-won knowledge is getting swept under the rug.

Here are three very important copywriting techniques that copywriters either aren’t getting taught, or they’re simply forgetting to use:

1. Tight writing

In the olden days most of the copywriting work was for print, and so there were space limitations. Paper and ink and postage — these were costs that copywriters were subordinate to.

So I routinely spent hours getting rid of words, replacing longer words with shorter words, rephrasing, hunting down sentences that could be eliminated without hurting the copy, and formatting for an inviting appearance. The end result was super tight — and super powerful — copy.

A great deal of online copy is loaded with fat because the copywriter has no space limitation. In fact, very often you’ll see copy where the first two or three paragraphs could be eliminated with no change to the quality of the sell. Take the test yourself. The next time you write copy, see if you “get to the point” too late in the piece.

2. “Next page, please…”

Probably because there’s so much work in the electronic space — landing pages, emails, Web pages — copywriters aren’t learning about “Next page, please” when they write physical letters. (Writing and sending client acquisition letters is a big part of my coaching program.)

It seems dumb that you would have to tell a reader to go to the next page in a letter… after all, you’d think they’d do that naturally, right?

But not so. For decades very large mailers would test little details like this and find out that yes, copy as obvious as “next page please” did raise response rates.

But just as important as telling the reader what to do, is to work a huge dose of curiosity into that last sentence on page one to draaag the reader into the next page. Way too many copywriters end the first page of a multi-page letter with a period at the end of a paragraph — exactly what you don’t want to do! Such an oversight would get your knuckles cracked back in the day.

If you read a print newspaper, you’ll notice that even journalists have mastered the “curiosity” trick in order to keep readers moving through the paper, toward the ads.

These “end of page” techniques are so important that I spend a lot of time rewriting the final sentence on each page to maximize its curiosity quotient, and then, of course, “push” the reader into the next page with Next page, please…. (Or if the page is printed on the backside, you would say Over please, as in this example):

Selling home heating systems for a Washington water power utility.

Click to enlarge…

3. Wrap it up. The best writing always “wraps up.” And today’s copywriters are forgetting to do that. They start off with a big idea or a strong theme. And as they get deeper and deeper into the copy, they get further and further away from the big idea… from the central point or proclamation.

At the end the copywriter sticks on a Call To Action and considers the job done. But in the reader’s mind, the job is not done. In the reader’s mind the copywriter made a statement and then proceeded to support it but never came back to restate the statement in “proof” terms. It leaves a gaping hole in the argument because the copywriter did not loop back to the original thought and therefore the argument is unfinished.

Let’s say that the big idea that you want to convey is that the DiggyDoggy brand of raw dog food is better than all other dog foods because in the wild, dogs don’t eat cooked food or kibble. So you open your copy with a SUPERDOG concept that supports the idea of a “stronger, healthier” pet.

In your copy you cover the benefits, overcome the objections, appeal to the emotions, make an offer, provide a guarantee, and finally make a call to action.

What’s missing here is the “loop back:”

Now that you’ve seen why raw dog food is better for your dog, and that DiggyDoggy’s brand is best, it’s time to make a super happy SUPERDOG out of your beloved pet….

Looping back to the big idea not only allows the reader to feel “complete” and as if their time has “paid off,” but it also offers them a statement they can agree with, and an agreeable mind is always more apt to take the positive action you want.

© 2016 Chris Marlow, All Rights Reserved

P.S. — Speaking of copywriting, did you know about the Marlow Method™ Earn While You Learn Copywriting Course? You can find it — and much more — in the S.S. Treasure Hunt, a unique membership site just for copywriters.

About Chris Marlow

The original copywriter's coach, Chris Marlow has worked with copywriters since 2003. Her acclaimed Marlow Marketing Method™ Client Acquisition Course has produced hundreds of successful copywriters. Chris' S.S. Treasure Hunt membership site not only houses this course but four more on the subjects of Copywriting, Advanced Copywriting, Productivity, and Closing Clients. The S.S. Treasure Hunt also contains the world's only statistical pricing database for about 100 copywriting jobs. Chris has put together this resource to give copywriters everything they need to succeed — and nothing they don't. Chris is committed to helping copywriters focus on what's important, saving them from the time- and money-wasting Bright Shiny Object Syndrome so prevalent on the Internet.

4 Responses to 3 essential but ‘forgotten’ copywriting techniques

  1. Bonnie Schooler June 30, 2016 at 5:17 am #

    Great reminders Chris!

  2. Chris Marlow June 29, 2016 at 8:05 am #

    Hi Carol,

    Thanks for the input, and nice to hear from you!

    And yes, my Sailor (little toy yorkie), takes up a lot of my time. And yes, I am feeding him raw dog food. He loves it!).

  3. Carol Bentley June 29, 2016 at 7:51 am #

    Hi Chris,

    your point 2 (yes, I agree with the others as well 😉 ) is one of my constant ‘must do this’ that I share with all my clients and in any advice I give.

    I’ve found the easiest way to get people to accept it is to explain that it is very rare for a reader to stop in the middle of a sentence so, at the very least, it gets them to turn the page. 🙂

    Like your DiggyDoggy example, would never guess (like me) you are a dog-lover! lol

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