How to write punchy copy (+ checklist)
Writing sales copy can seem daunting… even to the most brilliant and business-savvy people on the planet.
Entrepreneurs who consider themselves articulate and convincing in their pitch have been known to freeze up when it comes to creating content.
Because there’s an art to writing copy that converts prospects to customers...
And I’m going to show a few tips and tricks to get there.
Because if you really break down the basics of successful marketing, it all comes down to how well your copy does its job.
The end goal is to lead your reader to a desired action. In this case, buying your product or service.
So how can you ensure the copy you’re putting out there is going to make that vital connection?
You get punchy.
The Punchy Copy Secret Formula
Appeal to the mind of your reader – both on a logical level AND their emotional state.
Speak to their challenges, doubts, and fears – plus their desired outcomes – which your offering resolves.
But most importantly...
Keep them interested – meaning hook them, keep them reading, and convince them they’re making the right investment by giving you their time and/or money.
So there you go! The copy formula that delivers...
Sounds like an easy enough roadmap, yes?
Well… in theory.
But there’s often a big gap between the “what to do” and the “how to do.”
Most of my clients come to me because they know what they want to say but it’s not landing with their audience.
They get stuck with:
Old habits of academic-style writing.
Being too wordy.
Talking too much about themselves and not focusing on the reader.
Being too in love with their own product or service (which totally happens when you write your own copy).
Or, they get hung up in the “how” part.
AKA: “Where do I even start?” “How do I know if this is working?” Telling themselves “I’m not a writer.”
Often what happens is you get blocked when it comes to copywriting because you fall back on all those lessons your grade school teachers burned into your brain.
Not ending with prepositions.
For all you Type As out there (guilty!), breaking this deeply-ingrained habit is tough when you pivot into writing marketing copy.
But you know what?
Mrs. Buchanan probably isn’t your ideal audience. Or in my case, Sister Carmel (shout out to my Catholic school peeps).
You may discover your writing is very precise. It’s clinical. And it focuses on detailed explanations of your business instead of... your personality!
Here’s the thing.
People don’t read.
Especially online. (And yes, this is coming from a copywriter).
So you’ve got to hook them early… which means punchy copy with personality.
Here are some tips to do just that...
Punchy Copy Checklist:
1. Use incomplete sentences
The real trick to punchy copy?
Writing as a narrative. AKA how you would sound when you gossip with your BFF.
It’s not always in the most complete sentences… it’s how you actually talk!
So throw out all those rules you were taught in school.
Using “and”, “but”, and “because” are all perfectly acceptable words to start a sentence with in punchy copy land.
2. Change up your writing process
A fun exercise I encourage you to try if you struggle to write and sound like you:
Record yourself talking (either on video or audio) then use the recording as dictation to write your copy.
You’ll see what a difference it makes!
It can be helpful with getting unstuck from the “how” part of the writing process.
If you’re great at conveying your thoughts aloud, but struggle with writing, this exercise will help you change your approach to copywriting.
3. Break up chunky paragraphs
Studies show the average person’s attention span while reading on the web has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds in the last 10 years.
The attention space of average people on the web these days is bitesize.
Your eyes can’t handle big chunks (especially on web)...
… so take those paragraphs and separate them into 1-2 sentence blocks.
And pretty soon you’ll be delivering impactful points that keep them reading (and wanting more).
4. Use bullets
Using bullets is a no brainer.
They draw your eye and give the reader a break from paragraph format.
Bullets train the eye to go with the most important part of your messaging.
The reader will quickly absorb and retain those bulletpoints much more than any lengthy text!
So if you’ve got a list or some key messages to convey, use bullets.
5. Use images to punctuate thoughts and add visual interest
Add personality to your brand of punchy.
Using a fun meme, gif, and even a good old graph/chart to illustrate your point is always going to keep your reader hooked.
It also instantly creates an “insider’s club” because when you choose images that appeal to you… you’re subconsciously creating insiders and outsiders.
Let’s say your audience is primarily women between 30-45. Well then, dropping the perfect Mean Girls gif is going to make them instantly know they’re in the right place.
On the flip side, if your audience is males over 60, throwing up an awesome Regina George meme probably isn’t going to work.
They’ll be scratching their heads wondering if everyone is supposed to wear pink on Wednesdays now…
Which means they’re no longer thinking about reading the rest of your copy.
6. Always include bold words/phrases
This one is key for captivating copy!
No matter how well you write, there will always be those who can’t help but SCAN their way through everything.
Here’s what I mean… bold phrases catch your eye. (See, did your eye go right there?)
So structure your copy in a way where you can put a short, impactful bit of info together and then bold it up. This way, if people only read the bolded bullet points, they still understand the gist and message of your copy.
7. Don’t leave out lists
This one goes hand in hand with the bold phrases.
It’s always vital to insert Cliffs notes of your ideas with headlines and subheads for those searching for quick tips and conclusions.
A few ideas:
Top 10 Ways to Avoid…
5 of the Best Methods for…
How to solve XYZ in 3 Easy Steps...
Lists also entice your reader to keep going down the page to soak up all your wisdom. I mean, who's going to stop at Step 3 of a 5-step process, amirite?
8. Cut the fluff
Say what you need to say in as few words as possible.
Again, people don’t read. So chop it down to the most important pieces to convey your point.
One huge filler word people tend to use in writing is “that”.
9 times out of 10, you don’t need it.
Before you put the final polish on a piece, use the “find” function and search for “that”. Then read the sentence and see if it still makes sense if you cut it out. You’ll be shocked at how much shorter you can make your copy by finding and killing filler words.
Keep this checklist handy, run through these exercises in your editing, and for even more tips on creating copy that converts, download my free resource: The Conversion Copy Guide.
Pretty soon, you’ll master punchy copywriting in no time.