By Jack Forde
If there were Ten Commandments of Copywriting, what would they be? I found myself asking the almighty "Big G" (Google) that very thing.
And wouldn’t you know it?
It turns out their ARE Ten Commandments of Copywriting. Or so say the half-dozen or so sites that listed different versions, for a total of sixty plus "commandments" when I stopped counting.
Still, I couldn't resist handing down my own tablet of commands. Naturally I expect you to accept them as gospel truth. Or at the very least, as very strongly worded suggestions.
See what ye thinketh
MY TEN STRONGLY WORDED SUGGESTIONS
I. THOU SHALT TOTALLY IDOLIZE THY CUSTOMER.
Here's a no-brainer and one you surely saw coming.
Without your customer, you're a zero. So it only makes sense that you think of your customer first.
II. THOU SHALT NOT MAKE THY BIG, FAT, LIFE-CHANGING PROMISES IN VAIN.
Promise, direct or implied, is the soul of selling.
But be careful, in your copy life, not to treat promise-making like the perfunctory exercise it might seem to be for most other marketers.
III. THOU SHALT WORK WEEKENDS.
the copywriting life IS a writing life. Which means that no matter where you go, there you are followed by the writing ideas you've been germinating all week.
If you're doing this right, you can’t escape it. You’ll be writing down ideas on napkins spotting and hungrily reading clips related to your pitch, even off hours starting one-sided conversations about your idea with strangers and, no doubt, working on weekends, Sabbaths included.
IV. THOU SHALT HONOR THY MENTORS AND GREATS.
There IS a chance that you could be a natural-born persuader, with a brilliant ability to write sales copy that could make a dead dog drool for more.
More likely though is that your copywriting talent will grow by leaps and bounds thanks to the input of other great and more experienced writers.
V. THOU SHALT KILL, KILL, KILL THY DARLINGS.
All writing, sales copy or otherwise, gets better with editing.
And often that means going back and cutting the parts you loved the first time around and pulling them out where they don’t fit the rest of the sales piece.
Even if they’re clever or cool.
VI. THOU SHALT LUST IN YOUR HEART FOR ANSWERS.
If there's one common trait among creatives of all kinds, say lots of people who say lots of things on this subject, it’s that they’re hopelessly, almost helplessly curious.
VII. THOU SHALT STEAL (JUDICIOUSLY).
[This] does NOT mean, of course, literally stealing the work or credit of others.
But what about "stealing" where it means studying what others are doing and finding ways to do it well yourself?
VIII. THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESSES.
In a copy context, I'm saying don’t try to fake your way through proofs for your claims.
Not with home-crafted testimonials. Not with stock photos of customers. Nor with nebulous studies, survey results, or chart information.
IX. THOU SHALT COVET THY NEIGHBOR’S WIFE AND COUSINS, FRIENDS, ETC.
Before anybody whacks me with a rolling pin, there’s a contextual meaning here you might miss.
Very simply, what I mean is this: You want as many good people on your "list" as you can get.
For the newbies, the "list" is simply the group of people that you’ll mail your sales message to.
X. THOU SHALT COVET (THE QUALITY) OF THEY NEIGHBOR'S GOODS.
This might be the commandment supreme in all copywriting, marketing, product-making or service offering though you'll see it forgotten all over the place.
Nothing is easier to sell than something worth selling.
Okay, that's enough — this proclamation biz is thirsty work. Now take this message, which you just might be reading on your tablet computer, and spread the word.
© 2012 by John Forde
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