Copywriter for JWT, Eric Auvinet has +15 years experience mastermining the ideas and copy behind advertising campaigns. (more…)

Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you.

Neil Gaiman

The advertising agency business has gotten terribly conglomeratized and consolidated, and I don’t think that’s doing the agency, the employees of the agencies, and the clients of the agencies’ business any favors.

Poetry is not the thing said but a way of saying it.

A.E. Housman (via thegentlemanslibrary)

An ad is a chance to grab someone and get him/her to buy your product. A line that requires a yes/no answer is always a gamble, because the wrong answer is immediately a lost sale. In this case, the ad has categorically failed to to its job.

Two of the worst habits to pick up from bad advertising are these two types of pun: the rhyming pun, where one word is replaced by a rhyming word (to pee or not to pee, hippy birthday) and the sound-alike, where one word is replaced by a word that sounds phonetically the same (Czech it out, bored of education…).

These bad puns are largely considered to be the lowest form of advertising.

The first rule when teaching conversational English is always to structure a question in a way that prevents the student answering with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ This is exactly what an ad should do.

If the reader answers ‘yes,’ great, you’ve found a potential customer. And if they said ‘no’ then that means they’re not interested, right?

But what if the ad was rewritten to make the reader question his or her lack of interest?

Always lead with the most important, interesting, or relevant information, using sentences no longer than about 20 words and paragraphs with no more than three or four sentences.

If you don’t get noticed, you don’t have anything. You just have to be noticed, but the art is in getting noticed naturally, without screaming or without tricks.

There are two media types:

1) Lean forward refers to readers who are seeking out information about your client – often online. They want to know, so tell them.

2) Lean back are more passive, watching TV, sitting on the train, or listening to the radio in the car. You have to create interest.

The bulk of copywriting is targeted at lean forward.

No matter how good it is, edit it down. You have a split second to catch the attention of a newspaper reader flicking though its pages, and your creative concept has to hit home quickly. However, one you have the reader’s attention, you can work with it and can present your story.

Writing is a very high-pressure job, made easier by the precise audience profile, which gives you plenty to work with in terms of establishing a relationship with the reader. This low-volume, high-quality list gives you a clearly defined target audience to whom you can speak in their own voice, and use examples directly relevant to their lives.

Remember that the design has to sell the message. Every element of the direct marketing design should push readers to the end sell, so the designer should read the copy fully and understand exactly what it is that they are selling.

Relationship marketing focuses on retaining existing customers and building stronger relationships with them, and direct marketing – particularly with targeted mailers – is an excellent tool for developing existing customer relationships and increasing customer loyalty.

Think of your job not as a writer of words, but an avoider of words.

Our words actually change the chemistry of our readers’ brain. Those changes are filed away as bits of memory. The longevity of each bit of memory depends on the vividness of the experience being recorded.

I read the brief, turn it over so that I can’t look at it, and then summarize it in one sentence, no matter how clunky or unworkable that sentence is. Then I write it large on a big sheet of paper and stick this on the wall (this is how I get past the blank page). Then I think to myself, ‘it’s easy to do something better than that.’

Resist the temptation to repeat common phrases and reuse the best descriptive words.

Journalism is all about reporting the story as objectively as possible, while copywriting requires the writer to tell the story on behalf of the client. This is usually an objective and unbiased stance (any over-promotion within an article will result in loss of credibility), but you are always in the service of the person briefing you and your editorial will therefore be biased toward the marketing objectives of the client.

Is there a better way to say 3 for 2? Should the message be ‘Buy two and get one free!’ or ‘Three for the price of two!’ or ‘Save 33% when you buy three!’