How Can Sixty-Five Million Readers Be Wrong?

Posted 29th January 2010

Catcher in the RyeSad to say, but American author JD Salinger died yesterday. He’s best known for “The Catcher in the Rye”, a novel about a teenager – Holden Caulfield – that seemed to speak for, and to, young people everywhere. It’s so far sold an estimated sixty-five million copies.

But what can this teach us about good copywriting? Well, quite a lot. Salinger’s narrator spoke to his audience directly, engagingly and in their own language. Above all, he sounded genuine- and hated anything “phony”.

Like millions of others readers, I felt a connection with Holden. He was honest, open and seemed to understand my own problems. And because of this, I trusted him. (Do you see where we’re going here? I thought so.)

Making your copy sound convincing – some tips

Writing convincingly about any topic involves lots of research. Find out as much as you can about your potential readers. Build up a detailed mental picture of their behaviour, problems and aspirations. Use language they’re comfortable with, and cut out all that “phony” marketing jargon.

Do this, and you’ll instantly start building genuine trust with your target audiences – both in you, and in whatever it is you’re selling.

Speak to your readers (not at them!)

Like Salinger, try and address your reader directly. Although you probably want to reach lots of people, don’t write for a group, but for one person. Imagine she is right in front of you. Be clear and concise, but don’t patronize. Make her sit up and listen, but don’t shout, and never preach. (She’ll just stop listening.)

Here’s how Salinger did it

“The Catcher in the Rye” hooks you from the very first sentence:

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me.”

Good, isn’t it? It certainly makes you want to read on. Keep this approach in mind when you’re writing copy and you won’t go far wrong.

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Categories: Copywriting
Johnny Cullen

Give Your Online Copy a 60 Minute Make-Over

Posted 21st January 2010

PinkapadesWith everybody talking detox diets and fab new fashions, isn’t it time your website freshened up for 2010? Here’s how a “new you” can turn heads and win business – and all in under an hour. . .

Why first impressions count

Grab your website visitors’ attention quickly or they’ll disappear (and may never come back.) Received wisdom says you’ve got about three seconds to hook new leads, so you need to look sharp.

Be honest. Does your web content quickly and effectively deliver what your visitors are looking for? Is there a clear call-to-action on every page? Remember, good copywriting is all about the reader, not the writer. . .

Straighten up and fly right

Strip out any nasty typos, clunky formatting or dodgy links. They’re the copy equivalent of bad breath or dirty shoes. And who’s going to trust a business that can’t even be bothered to proofread its own website?

Short-term pain, long-term gain

There’s nothing worse than stale copy for making your website look old beyond its years. Make sure blogs, news and media sections are up-to-date. And be brutal. If it sounds boring, it probably is- so get deleting!

Keep young and beautiful . . .

Follow these tips and you’ll be well on the way to: a) attracting more traffic to your site; and b) converting more of your traffic into leads or sales. But being glamorous is never easy- so keep up the good work, and no slacking!

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Categories: Copywriting
Johnny Cullen

How to Sell (Without Selling)

Posted 17th January 2010

Mad MenWriting  a blog entry is good fun, but can be slightly daunting too . What should you write? And how should you write it?

This got me thinking. There are lots of different ways to write copy, but I prefer copy that talks to people. Rather than shouts at them. (After all, who likes being shouted at?)

Smooth(y) operators

Warm, engaging copy has a long tradition of successfully selling all kinds of products and services. From Bill Bernbach back in the 1960s, through to today’s fantastic innocent drinks campaigns  this approach wins out every time. (Bill’s work is so cool it even pops up in Mad Men.)

Why talking works wonders

When you’re writing copy, try and start a conversation with your readers. If you want to be interesting, you’ve got to be interested.  What does your reader like, want and need? Don’t lecture, listen. And leave them space to make their own minds up. (Trust me, they’ll appreciate it.)

Think of good business copy as selling, but without the flashy smile and the big gold watch. It’s a lot more effective too.

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Categories: Copywriting
Johnny Cullen

What exactly is copywriting?

Posted 16th January 2010

Paul Rand copywriting“Copywriting is salesmanship in print” (John E. Kennedy).

As definitions go, this one is hard to beat. Always remember that copywriting, like any type of salesmanship, is all about persuasion. So everything that doesn’t help persuade your readers to do something you want has to go. That means excess words, sloppy grammar and, most of all, anything boring!

Some examples of copywriting

Copywriting refers to any text – “copy” – written for a commercial purpose. This can include everything from adverts, websites and brochures, to sales letters, annual reports and even speeches.

Have a think. What bits of copywriting really stick in your mind? Maybe it’s those cool innocent drinks labels, or Nike’s famous “Just Do It” slogan. Phrases like “The Lynx effect” and “Every little helps” form the basis for long-running, multi-million pound campaigns. Everyone likes a nice picture, but it’s these copy gems that make the sales figures sparkle.

Famous copywriters you can learn from

Wildly succesful copywriters include David Ogilvy, Bill Bernbach and Leo Burnett.  (That’s not forgetting David Abbott , who did those ace Economist ads.) These influential chaps helped their clients shift millions of products ranging from VW Beetles to pints of Guinness. (And if you ever watch Mad Men, you’ll know the true stars are the copywriters Don Draper and Peggy Olsun.)

Why words work

What all the best copywriters share is a genuine interest in people, language and selling. Above all they know that in business, words work. Language makes an unbeatable emotional connection with people. Keep your copy fresh, interesting, and reader-focused and you can sell more of virtually anything.

And guess what? People love reading. JK Rowling’s final Harry Potter book has already sold over 400 million copies. Give your readers what they like and you’ll leave them wanting more – even after seven volumes in this case!

Are you ready to boost your sales?

Improve your copywriting and your business sales can only go up. But that’s not to say it’s easy. Grabbing anyone’s attention is hard enough, let alone converting that attention into a sale or genuine lead. But it’s not impossible either. Stick around and learn how to turn your copywriting into a sales machine. . .

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What Are the Different Types of Copywriting Services?

Categories: Copywriting
Johnny Cullen

Well hey there!

Posted 15th January 2010

Hello, how are you?

Welcome to my copywriting blog. 

Feel free to post any comments. You can also follow me on twitter @EustonDoYouCopy or check out my facebook page

Thanks for stopping by. See you soon?

Categories: Copywriting
Johnny Cullen