How to Break A Few Rules in Your Direct Marketing Copywriting…

using persuasive or direct response writing to get your copy read.

More than likely, your teachers drilled you on avoiding various “mistakes,” such as ending your sentences with prepositions.

These are valuable lessons. However, in the real world, people tend to respond to writing that is less formal and more like ordinary conversation. Being persuasive often means breaking a few rules such as:

Avoid anything that makes the eye stop.

Weird type or extreme letter spacing creates “fixations” where you don’t want them. This slows reading and interferes with comprehension.

On the other hand, you may want to make people pause for a split second on key words or an 800 number. Italics, underlines, bold, and large type will make the eye stop where you want it to.

Use fragments.

This adds excitement. Urgency. Keeps the pace brisk. Just don’t go overboard with fragments or you’ll risk sounding affected and artsy.

Use standard type and layouts.

That doesn’t sound very creative, but for easy reading you shouldn’t get too creative. In most cases, a simple Roman or serif typeface is best for body copy.

Roman typefaces have features that make them easier to recognize than sans serif or odd typefaces. In other words, the less attention you call to the type, the easier the copy is to read.

Keep sentences short.

A good school essay may benefit from complex sentence structure, but persuasive writing requires short, easy-to-read sentences. As a rule, the average sentence length should be 16 words with 32 words as the approximate upper limit. If you have long sentences, break them into two or more shorter ones

Speaking about short, try one-sentence paragraphs.

They stand out and add drama.

Begin sentences with conjunctions.

Words such as “and,” “also,” “besides,” “furthermore,” “but,” “however,” and “so” are frowned upon in standard written English. “But” they help you break long sentences into shorter ones to make your copy flow smoothly.

Use familiar expressions.

“A sure thing,” “awesome,” and “O.K.” are all familiar and informal. Contractions such as “they’re,” “you’re,” “it’s,” and “here’s” also give your writing a relaxed tone.

Be redundant.

A “free gift” is redundant, but far more powerful than just “gift.” “Call anytime 24-hours a day” says the same thing twice, but that’s okay be-cause you want to emphasize and clarify your meaning.

Let me know what you think.

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Mike Deuerling

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It’s All About Copywriting Attracting Customers

About MarketingDoc 6 Articles
30+ years in marketing. 26 years as a small business owner. Love music, photography, gardening and just about anything outdoors!

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