Myth: Nobody Reads Copy

December 29th, 2016

Okay, I’m going to set the myth straight. People read copy, people. You’re reading this, aren’t you? The problem is, people are very selective when it comes to what they read. And how much they read. But there are a few tricks (if you will) that I’ve learned over the years, and I’m going to be nice and share them with you now. So do me a favor. Keep reading.

Hierarchy is everything.
As hard as it is for me to admit, not everything I write bears the same weight in terms of importance. So I think about my audience and what’s important to them, then I get to the point. Quickly. The truth is, people skim, so you need to call out key takeaways right off the bat. Tell them right away how it benefits them. Then maybe, just MAYBE they’ll keep reading.

Hierarchy Tip: Bold. Italics. Underline. ALL CAPS. Larger font. Those are your weapons of choice. But use them sparingly. All of them at once is OBNOXIOUS.

Edit. Edit. Edit.
Here’s the thing about an ad – it’s not saving the world. You might think that everything is fascinating and will impress the reader, but it won’t. read-the-copy-1Just think about what will appeal to them, and take out all the other crap.

Editing Tip: Get another set of eyes. Sometimes if you’re too close to the project, you can’t see what’s important and what’s not. Then listen. As much as it hurts.

Adjust to your medium.
Last, but certainly not least, understand where your message will live. Not every medium works the same. A print ad or landing page is a great place to include more information, while too much information on a  billboard can render it useless. Your best bet: just be mindful of the obstacles for each medium, and try to work that to your advantage.

Media Tip: While there are challenges that come with each medium, there is also a lot of opportunity. Get creative. A great example I’ll never forget was in 2006 when the Cartoon Network advertised a new television show by creating outdoor boards that simply read “I pooted.” The peculiarity of the line lured curious passersby to google the two-word phrase, which the network purchased on AdWords to ensure top search results. A genius ploy to move their audience from a restricted medium to one that allows for more detail. Plus, it made people giggle. #winwin


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