The four pillars of effective copy is a simple formula for effective writing.
This formula is easy to remember. Knowing this formula can enable you to create copy that’s twice as effective and impactful — in half the time.
In this formula, there are four pillars. It says that every good piece of copy is: clear, concise, compelling, and credible. Let’s take a look at each element in a bit more detail.
What you write must be clear. Not just to you or your colleagues or bosses, but also your ultimate target audience, the readers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson defines clarity in this way: “It is not enough to write so that you can be understood. You must write so that you can not be misunderstood.”
The typical advice given to writing classes about clarity is to use small words, short sentences, and short paragraphs. This is sensible advice. Breaking up long text into sensibly organized sections, each with its heading also helps.
But clear writing stems primarily from clear thinking, and the converse also is true. If you don’t understand what you are talking about, your writing will be weak, rambling, and obtuse. On the other hand, when you understand your subject matter, know your audience, and have a useful and important idea you want to convey, the clarity of your writing inevitably reflects your well-thought-out idea.
Now, you may be thinking that “concise” might apply to other types of writing, but not to yours because your audience favours long copy.
But concise and brief are not synonyms. “Brief” means “short.” If you want to be brief, you simply cut words until you reduce the composition to the word count desired.
“Concise” means telling the complete story in the fewest possible words. Sometimes copy is long because, to make a sale or generate a qualified lead, we often have to convey a lot of information. But in good direct response copy, we convey that information in the fewest possible words — no rambling, no redundancy, no needless repetition, no using three words when one will do.
It is not enough that copy is easy to read. It must be so interesting, engaging, and informative that the reader cannot put it down — or at a minimum, feels compelled to skim the text to glean the important points.
A major reason so much copy is not compelling is it is written about things that interest the writer, not the reader. In marketing, the marketer is interested in his product, his organization, and, in particular, his “messaging” — key points he wants to get across to the reader.
Unfortunately, the reader is not interested in any of these things. The reader is more interested in the reader — his problems, needs, fears, concerns, worries, challenges, and desires.
As copywriter Don Hauptmann often said, the more your copy focuses on the prospect instead of the product, the more compelling it will be. The product is only relevant in so far as it addresses one of the reader’s core concerns or desires.
Copywriter Herschel Gordon Lewis has noted that we live in an age of scepticism: Simply put, prospects are disinclined to believe what you say precisely because you are trying to sell them something.
Fortunately, there are several useful tools for building your credibility and overcoming reader scepticism.
One way to do this is by publishing a lot of content. Prospects are distrustful of advertising but somewhat more trusting of information sources such as websites, white papers, and magazine articles. These other sources we sometimes refer to as content marketing.
In conclusion, remember these four pillars for a good piece of copy: clear, concise, compelling, and credible. They are sure to improve the quality and impact of your writing.
Let us help you create the podcasts you need to engage your audiences. Schedule a free consult today.