Why Copywriters Need To Break The Rules - Part 2

If you read the first part of the copywriting rules series and have come back for more, it means your delicate sensibilities were not offended enough to stay away. That or you enjoy moaning about things and couldn’t help yourself. Either way, welcome to the second part of the series where I look at more rules you’re allowed to break if you really want copywriting success.

The Copy Must Be Scannable

This of course relates to the point made in a previous post which stated humans now have an attention span inferior to that of a goldfish. As a result, all sales copy is supposed to have italic font, bold font, headings, subheadings, bullet points and a partridge in a pear tree.

Essentially, you need to ‘break up’ the text so people won’t get bored. Well done for contributing to the ‘dumbing down’ of the human race. Soon, written communication will consist of illegible scrawl while verbal communication will revert back to the grunting of thousands of years ago.

When was the last time you saw headings in a novel or bullet points in reviews? F. Scott Fitzgerald definitely erred with The Great Gatsby by not including bullet points of Gatsby’s party activities. Occasionally, you can simply just focus on creating copy so compelling your reader is eager to read on.

Always Talk About The Reader

Apparently, using ‘I’ in sales copy instead of ‘you’ is the same as telling your target market their needs and wants are irrelevant. It seems as if you have to massage the egos of your readers, diagnose their problems, empathise with their troubles and then offer a solution. What if there was another way to make a sale?

I (see what I did there) have personally written successful sales pages in first-person singular. In this type of copy, you act as if you’ve already used the product/service and outline how it has changed your life. It’s a common enough technique when selling financial ‘systems’.

Basically, you act like an ‘everyman’ and discuss your experiences before the product, during its use and the aftermath. Typical copy includes details of how I made a 500% return on my investment using this secret stock market technique. When you craft such a piece just right, readers will be clicking ‘buy me’ en-masse.

Include Benefits In The Headline

This is completely unnecessary in many cases and it’s often better to go for a controversial or even unusual headline. Your target audience could be fed up reading the ‘traditional’ kind of headline and be ready for something a little bit leftfield. Over the years, copywriters have been told to use a ‘safe formula’ and while it still works, I think the world is ready for a different approach.

By all means stick with what works but if you find your typical headlines don’t work, try something new. Ultimately, the best headline is one which gets people to ask questions, sign up or make a purchase.

Always Be Friendly

This depends entirely on what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re looking to get new customers, ‘friendly’ is the way to go. But what if you’re trying to get email subscribers to engage or coerce existing customers into renewing their subscription for a service? What if you’re chasing payment?

In that case, being a little bit abrasive, even angry can be just the ticket. Obviously, it also depends on the products/services you sell. If you’re appealing to a ‘macho man’ audience for example, you could accuse them of being effete and question their masculinity. Believe it or not, this actually works. While I don’t recommend outright insults, people can be very odd so don’t discount anything!

Now you’re aware that copywriting rules are indeed made to be broken, hopefully you won’t be afraid to broaden your horizons. What are you afraid of? Are you scared? Are you a frightened little girl?

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