Creating Effective Copy for Printing
“Keep it Short and Sweet”
When creating effective copy for printing, the golden rule is to keep it brief.
We are now in the age of Twitter and social media and our content is often determined by the number of characters in our message.
Copy should be as long as it needs to be and no longer.
As we are all increasingly so short of time – everything has to be presented faster and in words we can scan and comprehend quickly.
Get online advice from various specialists before you begin.
Creating effective copy for printing means you need to “write as you would speak”.
A simple tool is the “Fog Index” which measures the average number of words in each sentence.
Try and keep this around 10 words per sentence as an average.
If it is any more edit ruthlessly.
Creating effective copy for printing involves good targeting and relevance.
Your writing style should always be based upon how you want your target audience to feel.
Do you want to simply state facts or do you want to amuse or entertain?
Obviously, there is a difference when preparing legal documents or sales literature.
When preparing copy for business documents or training manuals you need to avoid descriptive terms and stick to the relevant points.
Try to build up a mental image of the product or service you are trying to sell or the message you are trying to communicate.
Anecdotes and Case Studies make a very effective theme for copy writing because they help to trigger the imagination of the reader.
5 Simple Guidelines for Creating Effective Copy for Printing
1. Have a Clear Objective
Be very clear about the objective of the copy – is it to sell, educate or to persuade.
Avoid trying to put too much information.
In terms of priority the best points should be made early rather than hidden away.
2. Follow a theme
The more you write the more likely that the reader will “turn off” or “click away”.
You need to make every point in the most concise way possible.
Adjectives and adverbs are just “filler”. Try and make every word tell.
Like a good speech, try to grab attention immediately (the headline) and always try to have a good beginning and finish off with a good end.
The end is usually the call to action.
There are certain buzz words, action words, descriptive words and emotive words that can be used in creating effective copy for printing.
Below are a few samples of each type:
|Buzz Words||Free, Now, New, Here, At Last, Today|
|Action Words||Buy, Try, Ask, Get, See, Ring, Write, Call, Click, Send, Cut, Taste, Start, Enjoy, Replace, Renew, Repair, Examine, Consider|
|Emotive Words||Splendid, Excellent, Amazing, Delightful, Gorgeous, Wonderful, Beautiful, Explode,|
|Descriptive Words||Economical, Inexpensive, Satisfying, Rewarding, Value, Time Saving|
3. Do not overwrite
Your copy should have a logical flow in keeping with your theme and style.
Your introduction would normally follow on from the headline by carrying the case forward in clear and unambiguous terms.
Complexity is not a sign of intelligence.
Don’t overstate any point and always avoid superlatives.
4. Address your audience personally
Write in the present tense.
Use the word “you” not “we”.
For example – “You will receive your documents tomorrow” is better than “We deliver all our digital printing within 24 hours”.
By personalising your message the chances are that the audience will be more receptive.
Variable data is a means by which we can mail-merge images and text to great effect – adding the recipient’s name throughout the body of your message.
Including testimonials or a customer quote can add to the personal nature of the message.
5. Proof read and edit
Do some editing.
Cut out any unnecessary words and consolidate your ideas – this should reduce the amount of text by between 30% and 50%.
Then walk away and do something else.
If you have time – revisit your copy next day.
This will give you a fresh perspective on your content.
Do some more editing when it has been printed out.
For various reasons people are better able to edit the printed word easier than the words that are displayed on a screen.
Try reading your copy out loud to confirm the rhythm and reads as you would speak.
Needless to say your copy should be thoroughly checked for any spelling or grammatical errors by a third party.
We are all prone to make mistakes even with word processing spellchecks.
We recently printed a brochure that had apparently been supplied print-ready.
Although proof-read by ten people we found the final proof had more than 15 errors.
Many of these words also passed through the spell check.
Printing and distributing this material would have seriously damaged the original objective of presenting a high value company image.
Creating Effective Copy for Printing Marketing or Sales Materials
Copywriting is usually linked to preparing a sales message.
In most cases you want to persuade or sell something, particularly in your marketing copy.
There is only one question to answer.
What’s in it for me?
This is the only relevant question when preparing any sales or marketing message.
Your copy has to be your very best “salesmanship in print”.
The secret is to put into words benefits rather than features.
The product or service is far less important than its ability to fulfil customers’ needs.
There is nothing worse than seeing printing companies with an equipment list of their machines on websites and in brochures.
This information means nothing to the majority of their clients.
A good technique is to list all the features and then add an extra column which converts the feature into a benefit.
This is simply done by adding a column headed by “which means that” or “so what”.
Carry on the sentence by converting the feature into something that the audience would value (i.e. a real benefit!).
If any of these are unique to your product or service they will help to give you a competitive advantage.
Anything that can give us an edge – no matter how small can sometimes win a major contract or new client.
Now you are ready to add visual stimulation in the form of colour and photographs to help communicate your message.