If you missed them, follow the links to read earlier parts of the Lessons in Copywriting series:
Part 3 of Lessons in Copywriting teaches you how to make sure the marketing copy you write is succinct using a tool I call the Red Pen Rule, which I discuss in detail in my book, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps.
Let’s take a step back first.
The most powerful copy is clear, concise, and leaves no room for confusion. We’ll talk more about that in Part 4. Today, you need to understand the importance of not getting too attached to the copy that you write. Chances are, a third of it could go and you’d actually have a much better final piece.
And that brings us to the Red Pen Rule.
The Red Pen Rule states that once you have written your copy, edited it, and believe it is complete, perfect, wonderful, and ready for the world to see, you should delete at least 30% of it.
Remember, succinct copy is more powerful than wordy copy. It’s is very likely that at least 30% of your copy is not necessary in terms of driving home your core messages. In fact, at least 30% probably clutters your core message. Don’t hide your core messages behind clutter! Instead, take out your red pen and start deleting words, phrases, sentences — whatever it takes to cut that copy down and make it more concise and powerful.
Keep in mind, 30% deletion is not required, but it’s a good goal to try to hit. The point is to delete more than you think you can bear to see on the cutting room floor.
If you can’t step back far enough away from your copy to be able to clearly judge what parts can be deleted to make your copy tighter, ask colleagues, friends, or family members for their opinions. They might not be copywriting experts, but they’re consumers. Their thoughts might help you look at your copy from another angle and suddenly the parts that can go without being missed will jump off the page at you.
Avoid offering too much information (TMI) and show no mercy for filler words! These are some of the first things that have to go. Stay tuned for future Lessons in Copywriting where I’ll talk more about TMI and filler words and why they can kill even the best marketing copy.