Sunday 21st March, 2010
Andy Maslen stands out because he hasn’t fallen for the fashionable bullshit about online copywriting – that it has its own rules, techniques and formats that exempt it from being treated like normal sales writing.
The idea’s nonsense, of course – although if you do decide to invest your work with a technical mystique that it doesn’t deserve, you can often convince people to pay more for your services.
They’ll just go elsewhere if your work fails to achieve results.
That’s where this book comes in…
The biggest mistake online copywriters make is to spend time and effort trying to achieve the wrong thing – visitor numbers.
To do this, they might spend hours optimising each page. If they’re good, they might even make each page an enjoyable read. But only a tiny number remembers that a copywriter’s main job is to sell – to sell products, services, ideas, causes or arguments.
If you flick through The Copywriting Sourcebook, you’ll soon spot that selling is something that Andy Maslen’s good at. He also knows that human responses to words don’t change, just because they happen to be read on paper rather than on a screen.
Here’s an example. It’s probably the only one you’ll need, so I’ll make it good.
On page three Maslen says, simply:
Seven ways this book helps you
- Helps you achieve sales, marketing and commercial goals.
- Gives you easy-to-follow advice on the right way to write copy.
- Provides real-world examples of different copywriting styles and tones of voice.
- Allows you to write better copy, faster.
- Takes the stress out of planning and writing any type of marketing or sales copy.
- Shows you proven shortcuts for beginnings, middles and ends.
- Explains how a professional copywriter goes about his work.
Bingo. If I saw that on the front page of a website, I’d read the lot. And that’s because Maslen has used one of the oldest and best copywriting techniques – he’s listed the benefits I’ll get from reading (or – more to the point – buying) his book.
He’s not telling you how great he is. He’s explaining what’s in it for you.
Now visit your company website. Does it do the same?
Why I like this book
I could waste lots of your time talking about how Maslen’s book gives you the lowdown on headline writing, the best ways to construct a sales letter, or provide notes on why his advice on writing press releases is tip-top.
But that’s his job. Mine is to tell you whether his book is any good.
I think it is. These are my reasons:
- It’s written by someone who has read books by great copywriters – and learned from them
- It’s a book that doesn’t make the mistake of thinking that writing for a robot is more important than speaking with kindness and conviction to a stranger
- This book doesn’t recommend writing in a way that brings more people to the show, only to see them leave early.
And, as a bonus, it’s a handy volume to have on your desk when you need a bit of a reminder about what works in a range of different formats.
There must be some drawbacks?
Well, yes, of course there are. But I can think of only two that matter.
Firstly, Marshall Cavendish shouldn’t have skimped on the paper quality. This is a book that’s going to be used as a manual – and it needs to be much more durable than it presently is.
Secondly, I’d like to see more advice for effective writers who want to write for – or to recognise – effective SEO web design companies. I’d call that chapter, “Is your web design company any good?” Or, possibly, “Writing that builds online billboards as well as sales.”
Anyway, go and buy the book, before I start trying to bore you with phrases like “But these are only minor quibbles…”