It’s all about the imagery, baby.
You must master the fine art of using words to create pictures in your customers’ heads.
Think about a favorite novel you’ve read that has stayed with you for some time. I’d be willing to bet that you can still see the “pictures” the author created to draw you into the world of the novel. .
If you can create that kind of staying power with your marketing materials, you’ll put yourself far ahead of your competition.
Wondering how to do that? I’m getting you started with three of my best tips below.
Tip 1. Use specific nouns.
Quick—what springs to mind when I say the word “bird”? Now, I want you to erase that image in your mind.
What pops into your head when I say “cardinal”?
How are those images different?
When I said “bird,” you could have pictured any number of bird species or maybe even some sort of generic bird (something brown with wings and feathers, for example). But when I said “cardinal,” I bet you saw a bright-red bird with a distinctive triangular head.
That’s a big difference, isn’t it?
“Cardinal” is specific, and it brings a specific picture to the mind. “Bird” is generic, and it brings a generic picture to mind.
Whenever possible, use the most specific noun you can. (However, if the most specific noun is something most people wouldn’t know, like some rare exotic insect only found in the Amazon jungle, then make sure you describe it as well.)
Tip 2. Use specific verbs.
Verbs breathe life into your copy. They’re the difference between copy that lies flat and comatose on the page and copy that jumps up and dances a jig.
Now, I’m NOT talking about linking verbs here. “To be” verbs–am, is, are, was, were, etc.—do NOT paint a picture. It’s action verbs (like hug, skate, sail, run, fall, spin, flip, etc.) that do that.
While linking verbs are definitely necessary, the idea is to use them as little as possible. In fact, I have a fiction-writing friend who recommends having ONLY three uses of the verb “was/were” per page.
Yep, you heard me right. Per page.
(And yes, it can be done. I didn’t think I could do it either in my novels. And let me tell you, when you start pruning those “wases/weres” out of your prose, it’s amazing how strong your writing becomes.)
Tip 3. Describe specific situations.
“Our bookkeeping service is the best in the area. We can take care of all your bookkeeping needs, from invoices to paying bills to reconciling your bank statements.”
“Do your invoices go out late because you can’t stand the idea of sitting down to do them? Does your cash flow suffer droughts each month because no checks arrive in the mail (because your invoices went out late)? How much hair have you pulled out over the years because of accounting mistakes? Never fear; those days are over when you hire us to do your bookkeeping.”
The first example is generic (take care of bookkeeping needs). The second example shows you HOW the business does it. (In fiction we call it “show, don’t tell.” Good advice, even for copywriters.) You can actually “feel” those business problems–late invoices, cash flow droughts, loss of hair. It’s the difference between something cold and impersonal that really has nothing to do with you and something that wakes you up with a spark of recognition (“Hey, that’s me. I need that.”).
The secret to writing memorable copy? Be specific. The more specific you are, the more effective your writing will be.
Now, it’s time for an exercise to jumpstart what you just learned about writing effective copy.
Writing Creative Copy Exercise — See What Others Are Doing
Pick a piece of copy. Something with meat–let’s say at least 300 words or so. (No, it doesn’t have to be something you wrote. In fact, this exercise might be easier if it isn’t yours.)
Now, analyze it. Look at the nouns. Are they specific? Or are they a bit generic? What about the verbs? Could they be stronger? And does it describe a specific situation, something that you can actually feel and touch?
Try this with a variety of writings–novels, nonfiction books, newspaper articles, websites, sales letters, etc. Look at both “good” and “bad” examples. (Although good and bad are somewhat subjective, just follow your gut here.)
Note the trends you discover.
By analyzing what others are doing, you’ll be more able to see the strengths and weaknesses in your own writing.
If you want more help with your copy, you may love my “Love-Based Copywriting System” book.