Short copy is never written. It is rewritten as short copy. That is, the method is to write your message out in as much detail and as great a length as you wish – in your first draft. The purpose of the first draft is to get it all down, everything you wish to say, all the features you want to describe, all the benefits you wish to promise, all the arguments you wish to make.
Even if you plan a one-page-long landing page for your performance marketing project you should probably write a two- or three-page draft. At least.
Go over that first draft, and keep adding whatever it is that you think adds weight and substance to it as persuasive copy. Only when you can think of nothing more to add is it time to go on to the next step.
Sort You Ideas
The next step is to sort the ideas. You will probably find some redundancies, the same idea expressed more than once, although perhaps in different words each time.
In some cases, it is perfectly sound to say the same thing – especially to reinforce some arguments or benefit promises – more than once.
In others, it is unnecessary and may even prove tiresome to the reader. You will have to make the value judgment on this and decide how much redundancy to edit out of your copy.
You will have to weigh the various benefits promised and the arguments made. Copy can easily be weakened, rather than strengthened by too many promises and/or promises that are too extravagant.
Remember that you must provide some kind of evidence that you can and will deliver on those promises. Eliminate those promises you cannot back up convincingly.
Far better to make moderate promises that you can back up than to make extravagant promises that you cannot back up.
In fact, it is a good practice to focus primarily on one major benefit and make all other promised benefits supportive of and subordinate to the major benefit.
Cut the those superlatives and minimize your use of other adjectives and adverbs. Stick to noun and verbs. (Adjectives and adverbs come across as claims and opinions, where nouns and verbs are much more likely to be accepted as facts – are inherently more credible.)
State the benefits quietly – the promise is usually easier to believe if you are not shouting – and then back them up by making the facts dramatic.
A Short Copy Punchiness Checklist
The following is a brief checklist of things to do in editing and rewriting your copy for your performance marketing purposes:
- Get rid of all passive words
- Use active voice
- Make your statements sound positive
- Use simple language
- Use “you” and talk to the reader
The example below illustrates some of this in a small sample. It is the beginning of short copy describing a new book.
Note what has been changed, how the reader is addressed directly in the revised version, and how much more dynamic the copy has become generally when the copy is purged of unnecessary words.
Example: The Original, Lengthy Version
Today’s explosion of information – the advent of the so-called information industry – has resulted in the creation of a host of money-making opportunities for all kinds and sizes of businesses based somehow on information. Any of those who wish to capitalize on today’s demand for specialized information and knowledge will surely welcome this new and practical help describing and discussing all phases and aspects of launching a new information-based enterprise or extracting more profit out of an existing such venture.
Example: Revised Version
New opportunities for wealth are waiting for you in today’s information industry, and this practical new book shows you how to cash in directly on the boom. Whether you wish to launch a new information-based business or increase the profitability of an existing one, this author guides you through every step necessary.
In short copy there is no need (or space) for summaries or formal endings – no summary or ending for the article then.