Blog Archives

Copywriting advice: the devil is in the detail

Icon for Post #2970

Some copywriting advice for scribes everywhere: the devil is in the detail.

copywriting advice

The magazine needs to place itself in our shoes.

Squiggle brought to our notice the advertisement for New Scientist magazine on the left. He was half way through renewing his subscription when he noted something missing. It’s a fairly important detail for a prospective purchaser, canine or human: the number of issues one receives in exchange for one’s money. Is it monthly or weekly; meaning 12 or 52 editions a year? Thus the cost per edition could range 400% or so – not conducive to sealing deals and very off-putting. Confusion creates friction and friction kills conversion.

Unfortunately nonprofits perform far worse than corporates in this regard. We are constantly flabbergasted at how few nonprofits provide sufficient detail for prospective clients, customers, volunteers et al.

copywriting advice

New Scientist has chronicled Squiggle's search for the elusive Higgs Boneson particle for years. It's often referred to as the "Dog particle".

Here’s something you can do right now to assess your copywriting performance: look at the program / services pages of your website and see if readers told about:

Cost? (We constantly note that free services fail to mention that they are free!) How can I pay – upfront, installments? What about discounts?


Timings and structure of services. (Six 90m meetings with a maximum of 12 people over 10 weeks etc). We often see start times without a stated end time – this can be vital for those with other responsibilities or needing to arrange a lift. Simple concerns can be addressed via straightforward details.

Application process (do I need to be referred from my GP or do I just turn up?) How am I informed that I can attend / participate?

Who the service is designed for? (Is this something for unemployed men aged over 50 like me or is it for people I hate?)

The telephone number I need for more details?

Parking & transport details – how do I get there?

What exactly happens at the service? Will I be taken aside for a long induction process? Will I be introduced to anyone? How does this work? NEVER underestimate how introverted people are. We don’t put ourselves in strange situations willingly. Make your situation less strange via lot of detail.

copywriting workshops in melbourne

One day to boost your skills and expand your horizons.

Fill in these details and you’re on your way to a better website, better SEO and fewer grumpy, confused readers. Imagine how much better your copy could be if you attended Copy Savvy 101 June 17?

Find out how a guinea pig embodies good copywriting.


Give big numbers meaning. One great example included.

Icon for Post #3216

Have you heard? Apparently a century or so of rampant economic growth and disregard for Mother Nature has us all in peril and the planet’s dying quick. No, really. We’ll at least now you know. More bad news: fixing this mess will cost a LOT of money.

One team of erstwhile scientists has tallied up how many dollars it would take to right these wrongs and this week issued a report which values the worth of the threatened environment in the trillions and the cost to fix it in the tens of billions annually.

One problem with presenting numbers so big, about issues so overwhelming and remote is that they can become meaningless. It becomes too easy for a fat westerner, sitting in front of his plasma, smartphone in one hand, Diet Coke in the other to say; “Whatever.”

It’s the copywriter’s role to make the figures hit home with audiences.

copywriting advice

What a cunning way to explain how achieveable this HUGE task actually is. Kudos BirdLife International.

Left is how BirdLife International’s copywriter brought meaning to the numbers. Who cares if nature’s intrinsic value has nothing to do with soft drinks? It works.

Two omnipresent Australian examples are the MCG – which is used thus: “The disease affects 200,000 people – enough to fill the MCG twice over.” And Sydney Harbour which is used thus: “The desalination plant creates enough briney waste water to fill Sydney Harbour three times.” Not bad, but it’s time to find some new examples as good as this one.

Want five hours of copywriting advice?



Tagged ,