Seven tips to help you write great copy

1. Know your product well

Keep finding out about your product until you understand what's different about it and believe in it.

2. Give yourself a specific challenge

Phrase the task as a highly specific question: e.g. for an annual report front cover: "How can I convey the sophisticated technology behind De La Rue banknotes?" Use the question to assess what you draft. Anything that doesn't answer it should go.

3. Highlight benefits

What can this thing do for people? Why will it be useful for them? What needs does it address? Use features as evidence to support these claims.

4. Understand your audience

Imagine your audience and what they're currently thinking. Assume they aren't stupid. Realise they're busy. Accept they are going to be sceptical. Don't try to bamboozle them. Give them good reasons to act/think as you want them to.

5. Write as you speak

Although different tasks and different media require different approaches, you should generally use the second person ('you'), choose simple words and make sure sentences and paragraphs aren't too long. Be nice, but don't overdo it - it's easy to sound insincere and ingratiating.

6. Be interesting and relevant

Unless you attract their attention with something arresting and then keep it with relevant messages, they'll stop reading. Whatever you do, don't be boring.

7. Enjoy it

Or at least avoid getting anxious about it. Have plenty of sleep, don't drink too much the night before, clear the diary for two hours, clear the desk, turn the phone off and... have a go. You can always edit it later. Review it the next day. You'll notice things the next morning.

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