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The biggest problem with most copywriting advice

Let’s talk about “viral” copywriting advice.

Viral copywriting advice usually goes like this: Someone posts a screenshot of some good copy, lists reasons for why it’s good, and publishes their analysis on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Or they post “bad copy” alongside “good copy.”

And followers love it. It’s fun and interesting. It goes viral. But is it actually helpful?

Nope! Because here’s the thing about copywriting:

Good copy depends entirely on context. Universal advice is not helpful.

Let’s take an example. We’ll write two lines of copy for a toothpaste brand:

  • Line #1: Smile in the mirror. Don’t like your smile? OK. Smile in the mirror after three months of brushing with Toothpaste—now, you don’t want to stop smiling.
  • Line #2: Toothpaste. Brighter smile. Cleaner feel. Fresher breath. Peace of mind.

Now we’ll write our own version of viral copywriting advice…

We’ll take Line #1 and write, “This is good copy because it’s conversational. It creates a villain and shows a before-after transformation.”

We can take Line #2 and write, “This is good copy because it keeps the value props simple. Keep your sentences short. Be straight-up about your value.”

Both versions seem like good advice, right?

Wrong! We’ll never know if the advice is good or bad because we have no context for either line.

We don’t know if these are headlines or body copy… social media ads or billboards… brand awareness or conversion copy. And most important of all… we have no data.

So when people on LinkedIn or Twitter take copy completely out of context to post viral bite-sized advice, take their advice or analysis with a grain of salt.

By the way, this is true for all sorts of marketing, not just copywriting. So tread carefully… It’s a wild world of marketing advice out there.