You know Abraham Lincoln. Congressman, Lawyer, President, Zombie Hunter. But what you didn’t know is that good ol’ Honest Abe was actually a copywriter! Well, not really. He was a salesman – you don’t get law clients or become elected if you’re not – but not a copywriter as we think of today. That doesn’t mean we can’t get value from him, though! These 7 Abe Lincoln quotes can help us get better at marketing and copy – even if that’s not what he meant when he said them.
“Whatever you are, be a good one.”
Everyone is really, really different. And that’s okay! You’re not going to write copy like me, Gary Halbert or anyone else. Despite everything you try, every new style and new method, you’re going to write copy like yourself, because you’re the one writing it. Your personality and style and flair is going to shine through. And that’s perfectly okay!
The important part is what Abe says. Whatever you are, whether you’re the super edgy copywriter, someone who’s super sarcastic or you’re straight-and-narrow, be good at it. Figure out who you are and write like that. Just be yourself and write like yourself, it’s as simple as that. Just be good at that. You don’t have to try to be someone else or apply someone else’s method or style. Just be good at your own style of copy and the results will come.
“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
This is something we have to try hard to understand when we’re writing copy. People are going to have the emotional reaction that they want to have. When they start reading your copy, their mind is almost already made up as to what their reaction will be after the first few sentences. If you came into this article with the mind to learn something about copy, you probably will. If you came in with the mind that Abraham Lincoln knew nothing about copy and this is stupid, you’ll learn nothing. The same applies to the readers of our copy.
Make the first part of your copy strong and true to the rest of the message. Make the first few sentences a microcosm of your entire piece. Set that tone, set that mood. Make sure, when your reader makes his or her mind up, it’s the tone that you want. Otherwise you may be wasting great copy on someone who already decided not to buy.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Lack of preparation is simply preparing to fail! This can easily be translated to “Give me six hours to write copy and I will spend the first four planning and researching.” How much research do you do before you write copy? How do you plan?
I have steps that I take before, during and after all of my copywriting to ensure that I’m creating great copy that’s going to work. I take my six hours of work time and spend the first four researching and planning the work. That makes the work easy and the end-product effective. You’d be wise to follow suit!
“No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”
Remember when I said just be yourself? Let’s say it again for the people in the back! If you try to embellish your product, create false standards or sell false narratives, you’re going to end up with your foot in your mouth and probably a refund in the customer’s pocket. If you’re applying the principles of good copy and you’re getting good, relevant traffic, you’re going to be able to sell your product. So don’t “pump your product up” and risk getting returns! Be honest and sell. Don’t stretch the truth.
Worse, if you decide to be straight-up dishonest about the product to get more sales, you’re doing no one a favor. It’s perfectly okay to hype your product up. Just don’t sell false promises. Tell people that your microwave is going to make their food prep much easier but don’t tell them that it could solve world hunger.
“Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.”
This is almost the golden rule of copy. Copywriting should be “you” focused. You should always be talking to your reader, about your reader. Telling them how their lives will be better with your product, how you’re going to solve their problems. And that starts with being able to connect with them.
People are all different, so you’re not going to get a deep, personal connection with each reader. But knowing your target market is going to make your copy much more effective. Write in a style that works for your reader, write the pain points that your readers are going to connect with. If it’s a mother, write about the family. If it’s a bachelor, write about the parties and fun he’ll have. Honest Abe meant this almost a backhanded snide comment, but we’re taking it another approach. We’re putting ourselves in the shoes of our readers and we’re going to sell more!
“Never regret what you don’t write.”
Too many times I hear people say “I was thinking about writing that, but it didn’t seem right.” Or “I was worried about….” And then the result is, of course, weak copy that doesn’t create emotion or elicit any kind of response or action. Stop being scared! I tell people that ask me for copy advice to just let loose. Treat the pen (or keyboard, probably) like your mind and just write whatever comes to it. That’s what will get you strong, powerful copy.
You know what you want people to feel when they use your product. You know what it’s like to have their pain points, to have your life improved by a product. So why are you worried about telling people about it? Are you selfish, do you want to keep the good feeling to yourself? No? Then tell people! Remember. Copy is only unethical if you’re selling someone that won’t help people (or something along those lines). Your product is great, you’re helping people. So don’t be nervous about telling them that!