3 Copywriting Pitfalls You Must Avoid

By Michael Stelzner

If your objective is to help businesses capture a lead, close a sale or establish themselves as kings in a crowded market, here’s some things to avoid:

1. Don’t lead with the product pitch: In today’s economy nobody likes to be sold to.  Rather they prefer engagement.  That typically means start by building affinity with readers.  You can do this by talking about things they care about, such as problems and trends.  This draws people into your work and allows you to eventually make the pitch.

2. Avoid verbose writing: Pacify the skimmer. Use short sentences rather than long prose.  Try bolding key items and make sure your work is like butter melting on warm toast.  This takes time but ensures that the skimmer is engaged.

3. Don’t assume they’re just like you: Too often writers assume that readers understand the terms and “inside the beltway” talk that goes around.  However, there’s no bigger turn off to readers than terms and phrases that are are foreign.  Always ask yourself, “is this phrase something the reader will understand?”  If not, kill it.

What are your thoughts? What would you add? Please comment below…

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  • http://www.grabmorecustomers.com/ Melody

    Know the purpose of what you’re writing.
    Be crystal clear on what it needs to accomplish.

  • http://www.CopyOracle.com/ Kristi Daniels

    Things are changing. Advice use to be to always assume the sale.

    I agree though. People don't like to be sold now. They like to be informed and then asked if they would like to place an order.

  • RiverwoodWriter

    You're right on, Mike. The underlying thread here is to always think from the reader's standpoint. What would they want? What would hold their interest? What might annoy them?

    I, too, have a pet peeve with industry acronyms. I preach this as a board member when management gives me reports that I'm supposed to understand in order to do my job as a board member. If acronyms–or special terminology– have to be used, always include a legend or sidebar with the terms in alphabetical order followed by their explanation or definition.

  • Ntarugera

    Mike: It is been so long from the time that we started communicating business matters. As for your pitfalls that we should avoid while writing our stories; I'm for the 3 rd option which says : Don’t assume they’re just like you:
    Too often writers assume that readers understand the terms and “inside the beltway” talk that goes around. However, there’s no bigger turn off to readers than terms and phrases that are are foreign. Always ask yourself, “is this phrase something the reader will understand?” If not, kill it.

    Ntraugera François(Journalist&information analyist)

  • http://inkingthepaper.blogspot.com/ Peggy Jo

    Thank you Mike for 3 concise points. I try to stick to the code in my blogging. I am working on refinement in 2010.

  • http://inkingthepaper.blogspot.com/ Peggy Jo

    Thank you Mike for 3 concise points. I try to stick to the code in my blogging. I am working on refinement in 2010.