Want better copy? Write short stories. Here’s how copywriting is writing short stories.
The obvious similarity is that when selling you should tell a story whenever possible. Bring the reader in, let them imagine they are that individual who can’t get the wine stain out of their shirt after their girlfriend threw her drink in their face. Let your reader say, “Thank god it worked, this is my favorite shirt.” after they find a bottle of pretreatment in mom’s laundry room. Place the product in a real life situation, but not a boring one. Dramatize a bit, maybe a lot in some cases i.e. you’re stuck behind grandpa who isn’t moving though the light that has turned green. What do you do? Honk? No, you just get out of your car, pick up grandpa’s caddy, and move it over a lane. Wouldn’t that be nice?
This leads me to my next point. Show, don’t tell. Show the consumer through vivid descriptions, don’t say, “Use this for stains.” Show them a number of stainful situations that they can relate to. Little Suzie fell down and scraped her knee. She’s got grass stains and blood on her new blue jeans. What are you gonna do?
Just as in short stories you’re selling an idea, a vision. A creative writing professor once told me you write your first sentence to make the reader read the next one and the sole purpose of that sentence is to get the reader to read the next, and so on and so on. The same rule applies in writing copy. On top of getting readership, you have to use each sentence to get the consumer to go a step further, to buy it. In a short story you have to get the reader to believe the story you’re telling, or should I say showing, you want them to empathize with your characters, to enjoy your style and your voice so they will read more of your work. It’s the same with copywriting you want them to believe it and want it, bad. Bad enough to fork out the dough.
Put a man up a tree. Throw stones at him. Get him down. Keep your paragraphs and sentences short. It sets the pace and adds to the atmosphere you are conveying to the reader. Present your copy well. Readers are easily put off by bad formatting, bad punctuation, or spelling mistakes. Get rid of every unnecessary word and tighten all sentences until you are absolutely satisfied that you cannot improve it any further.