18 Aug Copywriting 101 – Make every word count
In the movie, The Social Network, Napster founder, Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake), says to Mark Zuckerberg, “Drop the ‘The’. Just ‘Facebook’. It’s cleaner.”
It’s a moment of genius and Zuckerberg is left open-mouthed. The rest is history.
It seems such a trivial thing, doesn’t it? But I assure you, this type of detail makes a massive difference.
When you are producing any promotional or marketing material, a good rule of thumb for copywriting is to ‘make every word count’. Avoid all repetition and if a word or phrase adds nothing, leave it out. This goes for everything, from your choice of company name and tagline, to website content, advertising, and of course, social media.
A couple of simple examples I see all the time are, including ‘www’ in front of a web address – everybody knows what a web address is – and putting ‘Phone’ before a telephone number and ‘Email’ before an email address. It just adds clutter.
When you are copywriting, another small tip is to cut the word ‘that’. For example, ‘Everything that he1 said was repetitive’ is much smoother as ‘Everything he said was repetitive’.
Back to your business name, don’t include:
…Limited/LLP (it’s a technicality, not for marketing materials)
…and Partners (the same)
For your tagline, brainstorm ideas and chose something that reflects what your business does, its values and its personality. Ideally it will tell a story. it’s important your tagline is:
- Succinct (but not so short it doesn’t mean anything)
- Descriptive (but not too literal)
- Consistent (once you’ve made a decision, don’t keep changing it)
Here are a few pretty obvious things you’ll be doing yourself a favour to avoid:
- Anything that is offensive… and be careful with humour
- Plagiarism – if you copy somebody else, you’ll be thought of as unoriginal and cheap
- Jargon/buzz words
- Clichés like:
- All aspects of…
- For all your… needs/requirements
- Your… is our business/priority
- Your vision…
- Your satisfaction…
- The best…
Another inadvisable move is naming your business with initials, especially of your own name. Only you and your mum will know that JKS (Something Limited) is John Kevin Smith. Nobody else will remember the three letters and/or get them in the wrong order. What’s more, there will be two dozen other companies online with the same three initials, so you are making it very difficult for customers to find you. As the Yorkshire Brewer will tell you, you’re better off going with ‘John Smith’.