WHAT WE THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT.
Learning about good copy is easy. Mastering copywriting is hard. It’s like the blues. And the ukulele. And Haiku.
Much of the art of copywriting comes from decades of practice. Trial and error. This and that. Boom. Boom. Boom. Period. But there are some simple things. Like, these seven words you should avoid:
1. That. As in “It was so cold, that our tongues stuck to the parking meters.” In this case, the problem is not with the grammar. It’s with the poetry. If you slow down my ears, my brain might get bored and walk away before you finish your thought. As we said here, the language works on nouns and verbs. The more you junk up a sentence with connectors that add neither meaning nor clarity, the more fat you force your nouns and verbs to cart around. Just say, “It was so cold we got into the fridge to get warm.” See. No “that.”
2. Of. Preposition. Ew. Slows down a sentence. Sounds pompous. Puts the end punctuation on the next line. “The President of The United States.” See. Sounds pompous, right? You expect to hear that guy who announces the state of the union to be saying it. Again, this is not bad grammar. But it is bad copy. Just say what regular folks say: The President. Or The U.S. President. Doesn’t make him any less important. How many presidents are there, anyway?
3. Utilize. USE. Say USE!
4. They. As in, “We love our customers because they are the reason we’re in business.” This statement is objectively true. It is grammatically correct. But it is terribly rude. What is more compelling coming from your significant other, “I love my wife because she is so patient,” or “I love YOU?” Talk to the people who matter about the things that matter. Don’t talk about the people who matter as if they were things.
5. Quality.The word means “characteristic.” It does not mean “good.” To talk about a quality lug wrench is to talk self-important nonsense. As copywriting, it is either ignorance or laziness. Or ignorant laziness. A fine lug wrench has qualities such as being hand-crafted, being designed for the task, being cut from a single block of tempered steel…stuff like that. It would be better to say that the lug wrench is “good” than to say that it is “quality.” But even that would be lazy.
6. Purchase. Purchasing agents, middle-school English teachers, flight attendants, and movie characters from the 1930s purchase things. Everyone you want to sell to BUYS them. So, say, “buy.”
7. Partners. My wife is my partner. The two people who have been co-owners of this company have been my partners. The guy who sells me consumables for the printer is a vendor. Or a supplier. Or a copier technician. Maybe even someone without whom I would not be in business. But he is NOT my partner. Partner means something specific. Use it when you want to say what it means.
Now, these are only seven of the words that kill copy. There are more. But seven is a really good word. Works in social media. 7 things every blah, blah, blah ought to blah-blah-blah… So, there it is. Hope it helps.