Just Say No to These Three Enemies of Clear and Direct Writing

Just Say No

Whenever you write anything, you have a desired message to communicate to a desired audience, whether it’s writing an ad to persuade a customer to buy your product or writing a recipe so that others can make and enjoy your best dish.

Your goal, then, is to inform your audience, not to impress them. What does it matter if they love the words you use but don’t act on the message those words are intended to convey? That’s all you want–to get your message across as clearly and persuasively as possible. Anything that hinders your goal should be eliminated. Thus, you should just say no to the following three enemies of clear and direct writing.

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Why Brains Crave Beneficial Copy

Brian

You’ve heard it a million times if you’ve spent any time studying copywriting, marketing or sales—stress benefits, not features. People must be expressly told what reward they can expect when buying from or even paying attention to you.

This all boils down to basic psychology and an understanding of what truly motivates the person you’re trying to reach. But what’s really going on inside our brains when we’re presented with the right beneficial promise at the right time?

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The Best of Copyblogger in 2007

2007

It’s time for the ubiquitous “best of 2007″ lists, so why not one for Copyblogger? I’ll go ahead and do a round-up of the year’s best-received posts, with a bit of commentary on what was notable from each month.

So, if you missed anything from 2007, here’s a second shot at it. While you do that, I’ll have time to figure out what to write for next year (don’t worry, I’ve already got a pretty good idea).

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The Yogi Berra School of
Persuasive Writing

Yogi Berra

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra is a fifteen-time All Star and three-time MVP. He played in 14 World Series games. But what is he famous for?

Mixed up quotes.

Someone once asked him what he would do if he found a million dollars. Yogi said, “I’d find the fellow who lost it, and, if he was poor, I’d return it.” When discussing a Steve McQueen movie, Yogi observed, “He must have made that before he died.” Commenting on a pair of gloves, he said, “The only reason I need these gloves is ’cause of my hands.”

On the surface, Yogi seems confused. But perhaps he is trying to convey a deeper meaning for those who care to consider his words carefully. In fact, I think Yogi can teach us quite a bit about the art of writing copy that’s intended to persuade and motivate.

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What Web Writers Can Learn from the Writer’s Strike

Writer's Guild Strike

Back in the summer of 1997, I walked into the managing partner’s big corner office of the downtown Dallas law firm I worked at and resigned. I wasn’t certain what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I didn’t want to practice law.

So I packed up and headed south to Austin. In addition to being a Mecca for live music, Austin has a very cool film community, especially for writers. So, the plan was to become a screenwriter and just tough it out until I made it.

You know… tend bar or something. Starving artist stuff.

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The Butterfly Effect and the Environment: How Tiny Actions Can Save the World

Blog Action Day

This post is my contribution to Blog Action Day, joining thousands of other bloggers to write about one topic for a single day. This year’s topic is the environment.

The acre of land my family and I live on rests on a heavily-wooded elevation, which provides a panoramic view of a sparkling lake to the south. It’s quite a departure from the suburban tract home I grew up in, and I’m hoping my kids end up with fond childhood memories of frolicking in a beautiful natural setting.

One remarkable thing about the property is the amount of butterflies it attracts, no doubt due to the variety of plant species that are permitted to grow undisturbed. My 5-year-old daughter and her little brother spend large chunks of time hopelessly chasing after scores of Monarchs and other brightly-colored, flitting butterflies.

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