Ray Braun Design
Graphic Design for Business and Non-Profits

Copywriting: The Power Copy Checklist

Producing good copy is a challenge. Every project is different and judging copy can be a highly subjective process. However, I contend that all good copy shares some key characteristics.

Excerpted from my Power Copy writing guidebook, the following checklist offers some objective criteria against which you can review copy. Feel free to make copies of the checklist and use one for each project.

(Note: The following subheads represent chapter titles in the book. The checklist items under each subhead are based on content from that particular chapter.)

The Secret to Writing Power Copy

__ Does your copy connect with the attitudes, concerns and problems of your audience?

How to Win Customers and Influence Prospects

__ Does your copy avoid negatives?
__ Does your copy show respect and appreciation for your audience?
__ Does your copy convey a genuine interest in your audience?
__ Does your copy sound friendly and upbeat?
__ Does your copy include personal names (or identifying titles) whenever possible?
__ Does your copy get the audience saying “yes, yes” immediately?
__ Does your copy appeal to nobler motives?
__ Does your copy dramatize your ideas?
__ Does your copy take the audience’s point of view?

Key Ingredients of Power Copy

__ Is your copy personal? Does it read like it’s speaking to one person rather than to a cast of thousands?
__ Is your copy of interest to your readers?
__ Does your copy have short sentences, paragraphs and sections?
__ Is your copy written to express rather than impress, favoring simple words and fast comprehension?
__ Is your copy conversational?
__ Does your copy employ ample subheads and bullets to make it easy to read or skim?
__ Does your copy capture attention in a manner appropriate for your audience?
__ Does your copy adequately identify the audience’s problem or need?
__ Is your copy loaded with reader benefits?
__ Does your copy include plenty of facts instead of fluff?
__ Does your copy include a strong call to action?

The Most Powerful Word in Copywriting
All About “You”

__ Does your copy include liberal use of “you” and its derivatives?
__ Do the “you’s” and derivatives outnumber the “we’s” and other first-person words?

The Definitive Answer on Copy Length

__ Does your copy adequately cover your product or service?
__ Does your copy include enough information for your audience to make a decision or take the next step?

The 8 Headline Types and How to Write Them

__ Does your headline select the audience, deliver a complete message or promise information or a benefit?
__ Does your headline pique the curiosity of your audience by zeroing in on what’s most important to them?

A Testimonial Is Worth a Thousand Words

__ Does your copy incorporate testimonials when and where appropriate?
__ Are your testimonials real quotes from real people? Do they ring true?
__ Do you have permission to use testimonials in your copy?

A Practical Guide to Grammar

__ Is your copy clear and easy to understand?
__ Do all sentences have subject and verb agreement?
__ Does your copy employ maximum use of the active voice and minimum use of the passive voice?
__ Are modifiers used sparingly (so your copy doesn’t sound overhyped)?
__ Are modifiers placed near the words they’re modifying?
__ Have you used punctuation to add drama and excitement to the message (without appearing gimmicky)?

Some Final Checklist Items

__ Does your copy present information in a logical sequence?
__ Does your copy avoid including dated information?
__ Does your copy include all the important details (address, phone number, etc.)
__ Does your copy reflect company character?
__ Does your copy sound good when read aloud?

Neil Sagebiel is a freelance copywriter who has written promotional copy for dozens of national clients. Neil's specialty is B2B, including print and online advertising, marketing collateral, Web, email marketing, direct mail and PR materials. He can be contacted at 540-745-5472 or www.neilsagebiel.com.