There’s a small, six-letter word used far too much in copywriting.
I don’t like it.
Do I hate it? Possibly.
To me, it’s a sign you’re being lazy, you’ve run out of steam and you can’t be bothered to think properly about what you’re writing.
What’s the word?
Hold on one minute, Glenn. Unique is quite a good word to use in copywriting. If a product is unique, that’s a good thing, surely?
Yes. It is a good thing.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say finding something unique in the product or service you’re selling is the most important thing you can do as a copywriter.
But here’s the rub…
You can’t just say something is unique and leave it there.
To write effective copy, you’ve got to explain WHY something is unique.
I usually use a rather ugly metaphor when explaining this. It involves a turd. I’ll avoid that this time, though you can probably figure it out.
Instead, I’ll use a less blunt example: my hair.
You see, my hair is pretty unique.
I doubt there’s another person out there who’s wearing the exact same number of strands, all the exact same length as mine and all going off in the exact same directions.
Without a doubt: my hair is unique.
Does that mean it’s good?
My hair is actually pretty bad. More grey flecks appear each week. And sometimes Ruth says it looks like little boy’s hair.
But that’s beside the point.
The point is:
Simply stating something is unique is not enough.
The great irony here is the fact that because so much lazy copy relies on the word unique, using the word unique is no longer unique.
As you know, when a word is used too much, it loses its meaning.
Making unique, er…unique again
To write good copy – be it a long copy sales letter, a billboard poster or a quick Facebook ad – you must go deeper than just stating something is unique.
You need to take the time to figure out WHY it’s unique.
A rudimentary example here, sure, but if I was to argue why my hair is unique I could say it’s quite thick. It’s medium brown. There are a few grey flecks on each side.
I could add some emotional narrative too. When I was young I would grow it long on the sides to cover up my ears because they stuck out.
(My ears don’t stick out so much now – I’ve weirdly grown into them.)
By digging a little deeper into WHY something is unique, you start to pull out interesting details.
You need to keep digging until you uncover the special detail that makes the product or service stand out and use that detail to strengthen your copy.
If you’ve got a good product or service – a product or service you believe in – keep digging and the special details that make it unique will soon reveal themselves.
When they finally do, you can write copy that truly is unique.