In the tradition of The Elements of Style, here is a concise handbook of the principles and practice of writing effective ads, brochures, and every other type of copy intended to persuade. It covers writing headlines and body copy as well as increasing readership and response, and goes on to provide copy guidelines for print ads, direct mail, brochures, catalogs, press releases, electronic messages, and more.
Gary Blake and Robert W. Bly have written a straightforward, well-organized guide to writing "copy intended to sell": ads, direct mail, brochures, catalogs, press releases, press kits, audiovisual promotions, Web-site material, and the like. Copywriting is different from any other writing, business or otherwise. Redundancy that reiterates. Superlatives! "Quotation marks." Sentence fragments. That's what sells. While Blake and Bly address each copywriting task individually, there are some rules that apply across the board: focus on the customer, not the product; use a conversational, friendly tone; use simple words and short sentences; and close with a "call to action" (involving the use of a coupon, Web-site address, toll-free number, etc.). One chapter, on "power copywriting techniques," discloses how to use ingredients such as research, adjectives, testimonials, and guarantees to make your ad stand out. And remember: "If you have to choose between being clever and obscure or simple and straightforward," say the authors, "we advise you to be the latter. You may not win any advertising awards, but at least you'll sell some merchandise." (A warning to owners of Bly's The Copywriter's Handbook: while there is much original material here, a substantial part of The Elements of Copywriting is reprinted here, slightly paraphrased.) --Jane Steinberg