We often see copywriting briefs that ask us to make the copy ‘punchy.’
While this can be seen as a vague request by some, I tend to read it as the client asking for the copy to be better than average.
When you want to knock out your reader with words and write a piece with a punch, what do you do?
Here are a few tips.
1. Write your first draft in one pass
Momentum is in your corner when you’re trying to persuade. Get your thoughts to flow onto the page by writing the piece in one go.
I challenge you to sit down and, without hesitating, write a quick first draft that sets out your points with passion.
Forget what you learned in school. Start with your summary (conclusion) first and illustrate your point of view with supporting points in the body copy. This is the preferred style for time-starved online readers and it sets up clever combinations like Muhammad Ali.
2. Cut it down to size
Get the piece in shape by tightening your writing. A great copywriter will now take the passion and flow of the first draft and sharpen the points by getting rid of all the extraneous, unneeded, bloated copywriting.
- Seek and destroy all exclamation points – replace them with strong verbs. If you have to shout, you’ve already lost your reader.
- Burn adverbs – say what you mean; it’s not ‘very big’, it’s ‘enormous’; you fail this exercise if you can still find a ‘very’ in your draft.
- Mind the adjectives – if you took away all the adjectives in your writing, would it still be persuasive and passionate? If not, write it again.
- Rout out repetition – say it once with confidence; your readers will thank you.
- Stomp on redundancy – ‘free gift’ ‘please RSVP’ ‘past history’; there are hundreds of these verbal redundancies, get rid of them.
- Search for ‘so’ and delete it. Your point of view is more convincing without saying ‘so.’
3. Stop the solutions
Insurance solutions. Banking solutions. Video solutions. Noun solutions. Want a solution for boring? Tell us what it’s a ‘solution’ to.
State the problem that your product or service solves. It’s much more persuasive.
4. Read it back out loud
By now you should have a ‘punchy’ piece of copywriting.
Now read it back to yourself – out loud.
Your ear is the best editor you have. Use it to find any errors, gaps, clunky phrases and awkward stretches.
If you have come this far, well done. You’re on your way to punchier copywriting and a real knock-out career.