This is a question I get a lot. Well, the actual question I get is, "Why doesn't my web copy sell?" Obviously I changed it for the title to get your attention. But that's just good marketing. The answer to the question is pretty long and involved which is why I'm writing a series of articles on it instead of just a single article. Consider this the first installment and keep coming back each week for more on writing good copy. Since you're reading this, you've probably written a lot of copy for your website or other marketing tools and gotten a mediocre response at best. Don't feel bad, everyone starts out there. It takes time to develop these skills. You might also have read one or more books on copy writing that give tons of examples of well written copy and provide a full breakdown and analysis of each example. I'm willing to bet that they didn't do much to improve your results. Once again, don't feel bad. This week's article will explore what makes bad copy bad. The vast majority of copy writing books are exactly the same. They promise to teach you the "Secret" to writing excellent copy and then follow that same strategy of picking apart examples and asking you to imitate them. The real secret to these books is that the authors don't know any more about writing good copy than you do. What's worse is that they are actually contributing to the overall degradation of online sales copy. But hey, as long as they get paid for their e-book, what do they care? Let's think about it for a moment. A good copywriter writes a piece that really sells. Somebody then wants to figure out why it sells so well. When he finally reaches a decision, he then publishes it and other writers start imitating the language, style, form or whatever. Now everyone who reads that book is writing copy that looks almost exactly the same. Not only are the "copies" of the copy ineffective (pun intended), but there are so many copies out there that nobody even reads them anymore. Whatever style or language the original copywriter used, she now has to develop something entirely different because her original will be ignored. As a marketing professional, I consider this almost criminal, but it's part of the industry. Now just because it happens a lot doesn't mean that there's nothing I can do about it. In fact, you can do something too. Stop buying those bad copy writing books, read these articles, and start writing good copy. You'll benefit from better marketing skills and I'll have help in righting this wrong. It's a win-win. Now back to the bad copy. Another big problem out there is the misuse of "power words." If you haven't read about power words, then consider yourself lucky because you have fewer bad habits to unlearn. Basically, power words are descriptive words that when used suggest "bigger," "better," "faster," "more valuable" and generally leave you with the impression that the author is screaming for your attention. So much emphasis is put on power words in the marketing industry, that one might think they have some kind of magical or psychic power that will hypnotize prospects into buying. Sad, but true. While descriptive language is very helpful when used properly, it does absolutely nothing to help copy that is unclear, not properly targeted, or doesn't connect with the audience. For example, a 32-year-old mother of three will not be convinced to buy an F-150 no matter how "super- charged" it is. The copy is simply not targeted towards her. She might be convinced to buy a Taurus or a Focus if the copy speaks to her desires. If the copy goes on and on about horsepower or torque how fast it goes from zero to 60, this mother will keep on moving because the copy doesn't connect. It doesn't speak to her about anything she wants (unless she also happens to be a motor-head). To write excellent copy, copy that sells, you need to be original. Further, you have to remember your audience and not rely on gimmicks lick "power words." If you can eliminate the bad habits of imitation and gimmicks, then you're already ahead of most other online marketers because you aren't handicapping yourself before you even start. Next week I'll start delving into what does make good online copy. Until then, break those bad habits and get ready to write what sells! For more topics on online marketing, go to Online Marketing Answers for help and tips geared for the small business owner. The site is a free educational tool that I originally set up for my clients. Hopefully, you'll be able to use it to learn about online marketing too. Good luck in your business endeavors!