Last Updated on July 31, 2020
Write Here, Right Now
In the mid-1960s, Procter & Gamble ran a television commercial for its Head & Shoulders shampoo. The spot depicted a dandruff-sloughing guy at a job interview, and the tagline was “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” I was a student at the time with no thought of establishing a career as a copywriter—and Web writing wasn’t even a blip on the radar screen—but I still recognized the line as brilliant.Ready to Talk?
More than 40 years have gone by and it remains on my wish-I’d-written-that list. It may not even be the brainchild of a Madison Avenue creative type, since the original quote has been attributed to Oscar Wilde, Will Rogers, and Mark Twain. No matter who said it first, it works—and it works really, really well.
Winning Web-Writing Factors
Several factors—some apparent, some subtle—determine why the copy is so effective.
- It is clear and concise. The essence of the message comes across in a straightforward way, devoid of any jargon, marketing speak, or trendy turn of phrase to get in the way. The reader immediately gets the simple, valid point that the advertiser wishes to make.
- It speaks to the reader directly through the use of the word “you,” which adds a personal component.
- It is memorable. The juxtaposition of the words “first” and “second” give the line perfect balance. The reader may not recognize it as such, but it “feels” right. (That’s where the subtleness comes in.)
Whether the task at hand is Web writing, developing an ad concept, or composing an email blast, tying in these elements can make your copy stronger.
- “Do blondes really have more fun?”
- “Because you’re worth it”
- “Where’s the beef?”
- “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”
- “Plop, plop…fizz, fizz…oh, what a relief it is.”
- “Got milk?”
- “Reach out and touch someone.”
- “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”
- “Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven.”
- “He keeps going and going and going…”
- “The ultimate driving machine”
- “It’s everywhere you want to be.”
Depending on your age, you’re probably familiar with all or most of these. That’s partly because they incorporate the building blocks mentioned in the bullet points above. They are clear, concise, direct, and memorable—components that can take Web writing, ad copy, and TV spots to new heights. (The other part is the fact that advertisers paid about a gazillion dollars to saturate the market with commercials and print ads featuring these engaging and compelling lines.)
Content Marketing 101
Some of them pose a question. Some go straight to the heart. Others acknowledge and resolve a problem. Still, others arouse the ego and sense of self-worth. In every instance, they zero in on the reader’s wants, needs, and responsibilities. They do not blatantly tout a product or service. Instead, they express the value of that product or service by leading with the benefit to the consumer. In essence, they make friends with their target market. And who doesn’t want to buy from a friend?