The Six Stages of the Craft of Copywriting

Anatomy of Copywriting

A well researched and distilled Communication Brief is the copywriter’s best friend for turning a blank page into a good read. Your next best friend is the Anatomy of Body Copy. There are six stages and, like a good coffee, each one stimulates and focuses the mind every word of the way.

How to Write a Professional Letter

        19 February 2019   Dear Reader This is the first line of your first paragraph. It should state the purpose of your letter or the reason for writing. Warning: this might be the only paragraph that gets read. Be brief, clear and avoid superfluous words. Write, edit and rewrite until you […]

Positive copywriting and the power of NO!

copywriting the no

There are many rules about positive-not-negative writing, ranging from 5 to 101 dos and don’ts according to my recent Google search. Rule of thumb: it is preferable to accentuate the positive. So words like cannot, damage, do not, error, fail, impossible, little value, loss, mistake, not, problem, refuse, stop, unable to, and unfortunately are to […]

What makes you great at copywriting? Dancing like Mary Wear.

Until my recent conversation with Mary Wear, I always associated writing with music. When the beats and rhythms of the sentences sing the story forward, I know the writing’s done — music is my measure of accomplishment. But Mary comes down from the bandstand and onto the dance floor with her audience. ‘Copywriting is “persuasion […]

What makes you great at copywriting? Three words from Barbara Nokes.

‘Edit, edit, edit’. That’s Barbara’s advice to copywriters, ‘people today simply don’t have time for long copy.’ We could stop this post right here then. You’ve got the theme of it. It’s valuable advice straight from the mouth of one of British advertising’s great copywriters; the one who created classic campaigns for Volkswagen, Levi’s, Audi […]

What makes you great at copywriting? Ripping yarns a la Susie Henry.

There’s nothing Susie Henry likes more than a ‘jolly good natter’ as she puts it. Give her a garden fence and she’ll be leaning over it to spellbind us with yet another tale true and telling. Susie Henry learnt her trade from the greats, David Abbott and Bill Bernbach, living and breathing the Bernbach philosophy […]

What makes you great at copywriting? Mantras by John Bevins.

One of the most important steps toward greatness in anything you do is to work with the greats. Get their feedback. Take their advice. And most importantly, see how they do what they do. But for most of us, such encounters of the third kind are not so possible. Last week I made this possible […]

What makes you great at copywriting? A touch of David Abbott.

“His copy was easier to read than to ignore, so enticing was every next sentence.” “His school of fine persuasive writing is as convincing on a tablet as it was in the tabloids.” “He had a warmth and an understanding of the better parts of the human psyche and so did not insult their [the […]

From Socratic Dialogue to Communication Brief

This form of inquiry is based on asking questions to activate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas. The basic form is a series of questions intended to discover the reality, truth and/or perceptions of a subject. It’s exploratory in approach. You not only nail general characteristics but also enable the ‘information gatekeeper’ to discover their own deeper understanding of the subject. Socrates was a master devil’s advocate (and sentenced to death for it in the end) which makes his method inherently adversarial — there is persistence, probing and (sometimes) courage in the act of digging deeper rather than settling for answers at face value. So you’ve got to project a genuine desire to want to know for the benefit of the one being questioned; this usually comes in the form of listening. It helps to be more like a psychotherapist than an investigative journalist.

The Copywriter’s Roadmap for Moving Story Forward

One of the biggest questions asked by participants in my copywriting course is: How do you structure a piece of writing? It’s only when you apply structure to an entire piece of work from start to finish, and do it at least three times, will you “get structure” to map your way forward.