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How to Write Copy 101: 5 Major Mistakes to Avoid


From starting a small business to maintaining a global corporation,advertising is an important must have. In fact, companies and organizations spend hundredsof billions of dollars each year on advertising alone.

This means that if you’re looking to get into the advertising business, you’ve made a lucrative choice.

With all these advertisements come ad copy, the lifeblood of advertising. This is any text or script for an advertisement, and every ad has it.

For expert advertisers, copy writing comes naturally. For beginners though, it can be difficult to know how to write copy.

While mistakes are impossible to avoid, here are some of the most common issues to watch out for when writing advertising copy.

1. Forgetting Your Audience

One of the most important aspects of copy writing that you need to remember is the target audience. You have to know who you are writing to.

And yet, it can be easy to get so caught up in crafting your message that you can forget who you’re targeting. That’s why you should always determine who your target audience is before you write, and decide whether your message speaks to this group once you’re done.

Each demographic is different. Your writing should use language and references that make sense to the age group, region, gender, and culture of the people your copy is aimed at. For instance, if you’re ad copy is targeting wealthy, older moms who live in the northeast, then it would be incredibly inappropriate to use southern slang to describe your plumbing service. If your target audience can’t connect with your message, then they’ll be less likely to pursue the product or service you’re marketing.

2. Forgetting Your Company’s Brand

We all have our own voice and point of view, and for many writers, the goal is to highlight this voice and stand out. This is true for copywriters as well, but with one catch. We’re supposed to highlight our company or organization’s brand,not our own.

It can be difficult to do this, but you have to find ways to match your tone to the one that matches the brand that you’re doing copy for.

Is the organization fun and creative, or professional and technical? Does it use humor, stay straight forward, or have a completely unique way of communicating? As a copywriter, you need to figure the brand’s voice and imbue it into your copy. For example, Coca-Cola has spent years branding itself as a happy, positive drink company. It would be weird and off putting if it’s ad copy suddenly became aggressive and used internet slang to attack competitors and people who don’t drink Coke.

While it’s not likely that your voice would be this different from your company’s, an off-brand change in tone can still be noticeable and potentially turn off potential customers.

While it can be hard to avoid using the jokes or slang that you use regularly, if it doesn’t fit your company’s brand then it doesn’t belong in your copy.

3. Promising Too Much

The point of copy is to persuade someone to do something. This could be getting a person to do something like donating money,buying a product, or taking an action.

As copywriters, it’s our job to be persuasive as possible. In the effort to do this, it can be hard not to go too far in telling people what they’ll get out of your product or service.

We all want to say that what we have to offer is the best and will change everyone’s life. However, every copywriter needs to stay honest and not promise too much.

There are many examples of businesses lying in their advertisements, like Red Bull saying their product would give you wings when no wings were actually provided. Like so many other companies who lied, Red Bull had to pay a large settlement after being sued.

To avoid getting yourself in trouble, get to know the code of ethics used by the American Advertising Federation.

By getting to know the ethics of advertising, you can learn how to write copy the right way.

4. Using Humor Inappropriately

There’s a reason why so many Superbowl commercials use humor in their messaging: it works.

Humor can be an effective and fun tool for copywriters, but it can be easy to get carried away. The funny ads that are most effective use good humor that is easy for people to understand without alienating anyone watching. However, there’s so much humor that can be offensive or hard for the average person to understand, so copywriters have to work hard to find that sweet spot.

They don’t always hit the mark.

For example, the car company Hyundai created a commercial that showed a man trying to commit suicide by running his car in his garage, but failing due to their new SUV’s water emissions. The reveal of his failure may have seemed humorous to some, but for others, it appeared the ad was making light of a serious issue.

Another example is a bus ad created by the phone service Ting, which says,”slow, irregular internet? You need more fiber.”While this isn’t really offensive, if you don’t understand anything about fiber optics then this ad may go completely over your head.

5. Lack of Strategy

The last mistake that copywriters make is not having as strategy. It’s easy to come up with fun ideas for copy. It’s hard to make those ideas work to help your brand. One of the best examples is the cat herdingcommercial from EDS. The ad itself is great and memorable, but it just didn’t do enough to help people understand what EDS was actually about. That’s why before you do anything else, you need to come up with a strategy.

Copywriters need to know who they’re targeting and what kind of message are they trying to send. For example, if you’re working fora company that isn’t well known, you should focus your strategy on helping people understand what the company does. Once you know why you’re making the copy, you can start writing ad copy that will achieve your goal.

If you’re having trouble determining the best strategy for your company, you may need to reach out to an organization like StrategiCopy that can help determine the best way to advertise.

Now You Know How to Write Copy!

While this article has not made you a copy writing expert, you should now have a much better idea of how to write copy. By knowing what mistakes you should avoid, you can avoid the pitfalls that have torpedoed so many other copywriters and advertisements. Still unsure about writing copy? You can checkout more information here.