How To Write Faster Than a Superhero

Confession: I’m a fan of the superhero The Flash. If you’re at all familiar with comic book lore, you know that this is the guy who runs super, super fast. Why am I a fan? There’s something about being able to go “zoom” and you’re “there” — in seconds — that somehow appeals to me. Yet, despite his talent for sprinting faster than a Hennessey Venom, I’m fairly certain that The Flash can’t write any speedier than the rest of us. In fact, he would probably appreciate getting some practical tips on writing faster, more easily, and with a lot less stress. So, with that in mind, here are some strategies that have helped boost my writing productivity. Some of these may work for you, even if you’re not a superhero. 1. Create a “tent pole” outline Forget about the detailed, paragraph-by-paragraph outline your grade eight teacher taught you to create. In my experience, that just makes the writing process longer. Instead, simply make a list of points you want to make in roughly the order you want to make them in. These are your “tent poles”. Trust me. They’ll make the actual writing a lot easier. 2. Write and polish your opening first I spend a lot of time crafting the headline and opening few sentences. Once I have those in place, I find that the rest of the article, web page, sales letter, or whatever it is I’m writing, comes together quickly. Writing and polishing your opening is like pulling the starter cord on a lawnmower. It revs things up and gets things moving. Just having that finished...

4 Simple Cures for Boring Marketing Copy

I actually nodded off once while reading a company’s marketing copy. Granted, I was tired at the time, having already reviewed about a gazillion copywriting examples that day. Still, if the writer had attempted to make the copy just a tad more interesting — rather than same ol’ same ol’ — I would have stayed engaged. Boring copy loses sales. Everyone is too busy these days to pay attention to dull, yawn-inducing emails, websites, landing pages and other content. The good news is, it doesn’t take much of an extra effort to make your marketing copy more interesting. Even absorbing. Here are four simple ways to do that. 1. Use stories, examples, scenarios. Stories captivate us. It’s human nature. You’re more likely to be interested in, and remember, a story than even the most compelling presentation of the facts. That’s why I began this article with a story. In marketing copy, a story (or an example or a scenario) is handy when you want to switch on the prospect’s mental movie projector so she can visualize how a product will benefit her. Think about it. Don’t you imagine what it’s going to be like driving a new car before you buy it? So when you’re writing marketing copy and it’s beginning to sound dull, start the next sentence with “For example…” or “Imagine this…” or “Here’s how this would look in your business…” Your copy will immediately liven. 2. Dream up fresh ways to describe things. One of the traps people fall into when writing copy is describing things — like product features — in much the same way...

When writing copy, which features should you focus on?

Like any copywriting trainer worth his salt, I teach the importance of stressing benefits in marketing copy. After all, it’s the benefits of a product or service that the customer is truly buying. However, during a recent workshop a participant asked, “Do we need to connect a benefit to each and every feature? Our services have dozens of features. If we explain the benefit to each one, the copy is going to be a mile long!” Good point. Of course, you don’t have to “benefitize” every arcane feature of your product or service. That would be like dramatizing the benefit of a gas pedal. “As you press your foot down on this lever, the car will begin to move forward, magically transporting you to…” The trick is to focus only on those features that are important to the prospect – those which are most likely to motivate him or her to take action. How do you figure that out? The simplest way is to organize features into three categories. 1. Common features. These are features that your product or service has in common with the competition. For example, if you (or your client) offers an in-house sales training service, then the fact that the training is done live at the client’s location is a common feature. Most, if not all, of your competitors can claim the same thing. Touting the benefits of that would be a waste of copy space. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to list “me too” features. Often, you do. You just don’t have to emphasize them nor connect them to benefits. 2. Superior features....