B Y   T O M   T O R T O R I C I   

Knowing what to do in life often starts with learning what not to do. So maybe an exploration into copywriting best practices should begin with a deeper look into the field’s worst practices.

For example, we’re used to seeing companies boast about themselves — in their ads, commercials, billboards, emails and websites. In fact the practice is so common, we treat those messages like any other routine and overly-familiar occurrence: we tune it out.

In fact, our perceptual mechanisms are specifically programmed to do just that. If you pass the same house on the way to work each morning, you literally don’t notice it. As we constantly scan the world around us, we filter out what stays the same, because it presents neither opportunity nor threat. We save our energy to focus on what’s new and different and potentially significant. 

If tomorrow morning that house happens to be on fire, and fire trucks are blocking the road, well, of course you’re going to notice that. So copywriting best practices suggest that your messages should be the equivalent of that burning house, without all the destruction and mess, of course.

So maybe it’s not a perfect analogy. The thing is, business owners may be proud of what they’ve built, and want to shout out their achievements to anyone who will listen. Problem is, those listeners are coming at this from the perspective of what’s personally important to themselves.

So let’s look at some examples of boastful copy:

Winners of the Consumer Service Council’s Award of Excellence!

The Number One provider of industrial automation solutions statewide!

All structural parts made of super-strength non-corrosive magnesium alloys!

There’s a better way. Start with a solid benefit that applies to the buyer (the headline), then back that up with a related point that applies to the company (the sub-head). For example:

You need a service team that arrives on time and works until you’re happy.

That’s exactly what won us the Consumer Service Council’s Award of Excellence.
 

The most efficient industrial automation solutions reduce your operating costs.

That’s why more plant managers turn to us than any other company in the state.
 

Your equipment needs to stand up under the most rigorous weather conditions.

It will, since all structural parts are made of super-strength non-corrosive magnesium alloys.
 

See the difference?

Not only have you put the initial focus on what’s important to the buyer, but the promises you’ve made to them are a whole lot more believable since you offered proof. In the right context, the accolades sound more meaningful and less boastful.

Now, say you’re at a party.

And you find yourself in a conversation with someone who can’t stop yakking about all their wonderful personal attributes and accomplishments. Now, do you want to engage with this person, or find some excuse to move as far away from them as possible?

Now, imagine that your new acquaintance seems genuinely interested in, and focused on, what’s important to you. Our natural response is to open up, trust them, and be more interested in whatever they have to say next.

Keep those two scenarios in mind the next time you’re tempted to boast about your skills, accomplishments or business on your website. And remember that copywriting best practices have a lot in common with the best ways of treating each other IRL.

Plus, thanks to your new command of copywriting best practices, you’ve quickly engaged their intention without burning down a single house.

Does this all make sense, but you might need help making it work for your site? Couldn’t hurt to talk about it.

Tom Tortorici Inc. | Tom@TomTortorici.com | 770-934-7861 | 3101 Rockaway Rd | Atlanta GA 30341

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