Good Copy, Bad Copy

Advertising copy is a growing presence in the editorial pages of the print media and it offers people a great opportunity to communicate effectively with potential customers. It is subtly different from traditional articles in that its main purpose is to promote, rather than inform. Most people can put pen to paper and describe their business. Unfortunately, there are a number of copywriting crimes that people commit, which prevent people from communicating effectively. Taken to the extreme, they can actually cause your potential customers to viciously turn the page in disgust.

First, there is the copy that tries that little bit too hard to sparkle. Words spew onto the page, describing how wonderful the products or services are, but contain little real information to hold onto. It’s the sort of copy that uses 10 sentences where one sentence will do.

Then there is the copy that reads like microwaved food. It was probably once a press release and hasn’t been properly converted into an article. As a result, it is full of sentences that trail off into nowhere, or that stretch on into infinity. There is plenty of information, but it’s not presented in a way that makes it inviting to read.

Then there is the copy that is factually correct, with perfectly constructed sentences, but it just lacks that extra sparkle. This is usually because the language is formal and the content is fact-heavy. It can be easy to fall into that trap if you’re offering a service that’s quite complicated.

So what makes good copy.

  • It invites readers in. It will have an introductory paragraph that speaks directly to customers, asking them questions, or creating a vivid picture in their minds.
  • It addresses customers directly. It shows an understanding of concerns customers may have and what they need and demonstrates how your business can meet that need.
  • It reads like a standard editorial article. People should be informed and entertained by it and not realise they’re reading advertising copy until they see your ad cunningly placed beside it.
  • It gets to the point. Good copy lays out points in an attractive format, with short simple sentences which make it easy to read.

And finally, good copy sparkles. If you’ve got a unique product, or a product which you passionately believe will improve people’s lives, that enthusiasm will flow into your copy. If your copy is interesting enough, people will read on.


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