My theory of copywriting is to present information that’s true.
My theory is nothing new. I’m following the lead of Rosser Reeves, who published REALITY IN ADVERTISING sixty years ago. He pioneered the idea of the Unique Sales Proposition (USP).
The best way to sell a product is to present the truth about it. For a lot of major products, the truth is they’re just about the same as the next guy, so they make ads about something else. This can be effective but expensive. Geico spends two billion dollars a year to keep their animated gecko spokescritter in your face.
I’ve been looking at the sites of smaller technical and industrial companies who don’t have two bill in their marketing budget. They often want to keep their information to themselves. They have an attitude of security and secrecy and NDA agreements. Then, when it is time to advertise, when it’s time to spread the word, that attitude impedes them.
It always amazes me when I see strong young companies that mask their virtues on their Web sites by using the same set of buzzwords everybody else is using to self-inflate themselves. Instead of strong, active, concrete information, they use passive abstractions. By removing one or two industry-specific words from their text, it becomes indistinguishable from the text used in a myriad of different industries.
I have an imaginary worst-practices client, Akronim Corporation. Here’s their elevator pitch:
Akronim solutions have been widely deployed on a variety of demanding applications by multiple users across commercial and industrial markets. Our core brands include the Akronim 1, Akronim 2 and Akronim 3 product families.
By examining Akronim’s site and reading their text, you cannot discover what it is that they actually do–only that they’re the best, in fact they’re the world leader! Instead of offering information, they offer their own opinions of themselves.
Luckily, Akronim is imaginary. But many real companies emulate them. They prefer to sound big and mysterious. Their web designers will insert whatever text they are given into an industry standard template, and the site becomes indistinguishable.
What can a copywriter do for you.
My usual methodology is to study you and your technology and learn what your strengths are. I examine what your competitors are doing. I develop a clear logical description of what your company does. This usually takes several drafts, as corrected by your engineering staff. I condense your information into the shortest, most effective presentation of the facts, written so that anybody can understand it.