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May 5, 2005

News & Opinion: Playing good copy, bad copy

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 12:35 PM – Filed under: Marketing & Sales

I dont believe in writing good copy. And no, Im not going to say that its because you should write great copy instead. (Copy is all the writing we create or use for marketing and PR efforts, including ads, websites, direct mail, e-mail blasts -- even blogs.)
Im Jonathan Kranz, principal of Kranz Communications and author of Writing Copy for Dummies. Thanks to Todd Sattersten and Jack Covert, Im hosting todays 800-CEO-READ Blog, a discussion focused on copy, copywriting and related marketing communications issues.
So why shouldnt you try to write good copy? Because its like shooting arrows into a cloud. The shape of the target is ambiguous, its substance is largely immaterial, and as a consequence, it attracts wasted effort.
Your real goal isnt to write good copy -- whatever that is -- but to write effective copy. Good copy is impossible to define. Effective copy is always defined by your circumstances, which includes:
Your ultimate goal, be it to land a sale, gather a vote, earn support, or encourage prospects to take one further step along your sales pipeline.
The needs, desires and fears of your audience.
The communications channels available to you and the types of content and styles they require.
The nature of the products, services or ideas you have to sell.
Your positioning, brand and/or image.
And innumerable other issues, from graphic format to office politics, that affect your communications.
Thats why the tone, style and vocabulary that may be right for selling video games will be wrong for accounting software. Its why good online dating service copy is bad private equity account copy. Why excellent pet food copy is terrible health clinic copy.
Different circumstances demand different standards. What are your circumstances? And how are you using copy to address them?

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.