The 21 Rules of Copywriting (Checklist)
This handy checklist can be used to make sure you have covered all the essential elements of a good piece of copywriting.
Of course, you don’t have to implement every single one of these rules in your copy – only the ones which are relevant to your business but being aware of them will make you a better copywriter.
Research and Preparation
1. Study in detail, the company you will be writing for. What do they do? Who are there customers? What products or services do the sell? Make sure you have all the information you need before throwing yourself into your writing.
2. Research your client’s competition. Who are they? What do they do better? What copy do they use? What seems to be working for them? I’m not suggesting you steal ideas here, but keeping a watchful eye on the competition can help you produce even better copy for your own client.
3. Make a list of emotions you can use to sell the copy. People are far more likely to buy if they feel an emotional connection with the subject. For example, if you are promoting a health or fitness product, you may write something like this:
‘Imagine looking in the mirror and seeing a new you. See how good you look, feel how good you feel. All it takes to lead a healthier, happier life is ‘our product’. Order now and watch as your wellbeing improves more than you could ever have dreamed’.
5. Develop the best offer you can for your product or service. Regardless of how good your copywriting is, if your offer doesn’t appeal to your customers, you won’t sell anything. Make sure you describe your offer clearly and simply. Include pricing, terms, bonuses and a guarantee.
At this stage, you should know a bit about your client’s company and the product or service they want to promote. You should know what the customer is looking for and the most common obstacles your client faces when trying to sell to customers. You should understand which set of emotions you can use to help close the sale and you should have developed a terrific offer.
Starting your Copy
6. Don’t just use the first headline you come up with. Write at least 20 different headlines before choosing the best one. Great headlines normally make big, bold promises and really drive home the benefits of a product or service. Some headlines use specific figures to entice customers, use an unbeatable guarantee, Show their products credibility, or promote a great special offer.
Research suggests that one great headline alone can generate 10 times more responses than another headline without any changes being made to the actual copy – that’s how important a headline is!
7. The beginning of your copy should make reference to the headline and explain the main benefits in more detail. As your copy progresses, bring in the secondary benefits.
Developing your copy
9. Your copy should be written in the second person, i.e. ‘you’. Your copy should speak directly to the customer, be one-to-one and conversational.
10. Think about the barriers your customers might have to buying your product. Address these barriers and overcome them by reinforcing the benefits.
11. Use some flattery. Tell your customers that they’re in the right place, that they’ve done well to get this far and they’ve reached the final hurdle – tell them that all they need to do now is buy!
12. Use suggestive language and ask your customer to mentally “picture and enjoy” the end-result benefits of buying.
13. Use testimonials, statistics, survey results, case studies and success stories to add credibility to your product and believability in your brand.
14. Make sure that your copy is easily read and easily scannable. As we mentioned before, use paragraphs and sub headlines, outlining the benefits. Use short sentences and keep your language simple. Try to avoid using ‘cheesy’ sales speak.
Closing Your Copy
15. If any part of your copy is boring, cut it and revise it. Remember – every word counts.
16. Make sure your copy flows. If at any point in your copy, the flow seems interrupted, rewrite it.
17. Use passionate and enthusiastic language. Be positive even when speaking about problems and obstacles.
18. Create urgency in your writing. You may want to put a timescale on your offer to encourage people to sign up quickly.
19. Tell your customers that they won’t want to ‘miss out’ on your offer.
20. Give clear, concise instructions on how to buy your product or service.
21. Close the sale.
So there you have it, the 21 rules of copywriting – anyone care to add some more?