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Improve Your Startup with Good Copywriting

Written by Neil on January 25, 2015

Improve your business with good copywriting

I worked in advertising back in the day. It was for my local newspaper so I had to create copy for businesses such as plumbers and roofers and window cleaners. This was in no way like “Mad Men” unfortunately. 😉  I had to work to 4 deadlines a day, 5 days a week.  I loved every minute of it..not :(

The only good thing that came out of it was the discovery of a formula called AIDA. This sounds like an expensive opera you might see in the West End of London, but AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. It’s one of marketing’s  oldest formulas. Lets break it down.

A = Attention.

If you have a business or a startup you need to get the attention of your potential customers with your headline. This is the most important part of your copy. Try to address the problem that you are solving head on.


“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body of the copy. “When you have written your headline you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” (David Ogilvy)

David Ogilvy was the godfather of modern advertising. In 1962, Time Magazine called him “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.”

The point of your headline is to grab your customer’s attention. So you must have something right at the beginning that stands out.

What Ogilvy is saying is that, if you can grab their attention at the beginning, they will read through to the next line and so on. Therefore, your headline must answer the following question:

What is in it for me?

If you say that it’s the best, that it’s the fastest, that it’s the brightest or the shiniest, many people will quickly stop reading because they have seen this all before! Here’s a tip; give the customer proof of how your product or service will benefit them.

For Example – “Accounting software for business owners who dislike bookkeeping”  – Less Accounting

This headline does not sound like a tagline or slogan, and is not cutesy or too clever. I find it intrigues the visitor and induces them to continue reading the rest of the copy. In turn, this also makes a great value proposition because it differentiates itself from the rest of the 1000’s of accounting packages out there.

From an analytics point of view, having the right headline will affect your  bounce rate, engagement and click throughs.

I = Interest.

I must get around 100 emails a day. Most of these go straight in the bin because they are simply not interesting. Many times the emails I receive are not even personalised. How many times have you been ”Dear Mr.Business Owner“ or “Dear Mrs.Sir”?

“Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.” (Howard Luck Gossage)


Ideas on making your copy more interesting


Hire comedy writers!

The Tooth Fairy is a burglarizing fetishist specializing in black-market ivory trade, and she must be stopped. Today’s Groupon helps keep teeth in mouths and out of the hands of maniacal, winged phantasms.”  This was written by Daniel Kibblesmith, a 30-year-old Chicago comedian who used to work for Groupon.

Groupon grew quickly because they absolutely nailed their email marketing campaign. It’s a little known fact that Groupon hired comedy writers to write their copy!  Creating great content makes it easy to share with friends and family.


Try adding some humour to your copy . As I said before, most emails I receive go straight in the bin. However, if one was funny or if it grabbed my attention somehow, I would probably open it and possibly share it with friends and family.

Personalisation and humour make these things a little more relatable I think, and more importantly, improve the chances of it going viral, which everyone is obsessed with at the moment.

Some more ideas

When you make a claim about your product , service or your company. You can support it with:

D = Desire.

Do you have a “Wow Factor”?  A moment where a customer says, “I like it!” or “I want it!” or “That’s really impressive.” Something to create desire just before they see your call to action. Telling a great story is the key to desire. Consider this famous experiment by Rob Walker and Josuha Glen:

Enter Rob Walker and Josuha Glen

These 2 guys embarked on a curious experiment back in 2009. They would buy cheap trinkets then hire creative writers to invent stories about them, then post the stories and the objects on eBay to see whether the invented story enhanced the value of the object. Which it did. The most highly valued object in the entire project was bought for $1.49 and sold for $197.50 !!  – a globe paperweight with a moving, handwritten story by Debbie Millman.


What is your call to action? After he or she has read your copy, you need to tell your customer what to do next and give them an easy way to do it. Do not assume that people will take action on their own; you will be far better off spurring them on.


After all, you grabbed their attention with your headline, you wowed them with your copy, and now that you have their attention, don’t let this opportunity disappear. The next step should be a call to action (CTA), usually in the form of a button the customer can click.  Below are example CTA buttons , As you can see they are effective because they are clear , simple and straightforward.

Example CTA Buttons


Final Thoughts

The  AIDA formula has been around in advertising for a long time, and is often used in newspapers, TV and radio adverts. Basically, anyone selling you something has used this formula. But for this to work you must get to know your customer before you write a word.

For example, what keeps your customer up at night? Then start thinking how your product or solution can solve their issue or make their life better.

This formula is actually described in the film Glengarry Glen Ross, a 1992 American drama about 4 real estate salesman in New York and how desperate they become when the corporate office sends a trainer to motivate them. The trainer was played by Alec Baldwin. This is how Alec Baldwins character Blake explains what ADIA stands for  in his own inimitable way, swear words taken out!

Scene from Glengarry Glen Ross

Blake: A-I-D-A. Attention, interest, decision, action. Attention — do I have your attention? Interest — are you interested? I know you are because it’s f**k or walk. You close or you hit the bricks!  Decision — have you made your decision for Christ?!! And action. A-I-D-A; get out there!! You got the prospects comin’ in; you think they came in to get out of the rain? Guy doesn’t walk on the lot unless he wants to buy. Sitting out there waiting to give you their money! Are you gonna take it? Are you man enough to take it? (to Moss) What’s the problem, pal?


Thanks for taking the time to read this article.  If it helped you in any way, I’d love it if you would share this article with your social networks. Thanks!

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