Copywriting Tips: Is your content quiet or compelling?

Copywriting quiet or compelling contentWhether your marketing piece is a brochure, e-mail, sales page or Web site, the words you use either entice your readers or put them to sleep. To get customers and prospects to take action, your content needs to be active.

One of the pointers my mentor, the late Eugene Schwartz, passed onto me was to delete the word “will.” With the first project I worked on with Gene (more than 22 years ago), he returned my first draft and there was the red pen – crossing out “will” wherever it appeared. Of course, once he explained it to me, it made absolute sense. The word “will” makes the sentence passive, or as the title of this post suggests, “quiet.”

For example, which of the following do you find more compelling?
“You will walk away with 5 tips to greater wealth.” OR “Walk away with 5 tips to greater wealth.”
“You will increase your leads by 50%.” OR “Increase your leads by 50%.”
“You will look 10 years younger in 10 days.” OR “Look 10 years younger in 10 days.”

The difference is plain to see, isn’t it? Just one little word can make a big difference. To this day, whenever I write copy or am asked to review it, Gene’s pointer is one of the first tips I pass along.

Quiet or Compelling?

Keeping your eyes open for that little word “will,” is just one way to transform your quiet content into compelling content.

Another great tip came from veteran copywriter, Milt Pierce. His advice was to avoid the word “learn.” He said (and I paraphrase) that most people don’t want to learn something. Learning insinuates that they have to work at it and they want it to be easy.

With this in mind, which of the following do you find more compelling?

“Learn 3 ways to convert prospects into paying customers.” OR “Uncover 3 ways to convert prospects into paying customers.”
“Learn how to build a professional network.” OR “Unleash the power of building a professional network.”

Whether you’re writing your own content or hiring a copywriter, your content should be active not passive. Keep some of these active verbs in your toolbox and you’ll have a head start:

  • Explore
  • Uncover
  • Discover
  • Announcing
  • Reveal
  • Harness
  • Unleash
  • Leverage

Which words are you using? Let me know. I’d love to hear what works for you.

Debra Jason

Marketing & writing with heart, not hype at at The Write Direction
A recipient of the “Creative Person of the Year” award, Debra educates and empowers creative solopreneurs and enthusiastic business owners to create a lifestyle business that provides them with the flexibility, fun and freedom to do what they love. She also inspires you to communicate your marketing message in a way that captivates and converts your prospects into loyal, raving fans - even if you have been struggling with how to transform your ideas into words in the past.


  1. Debra,
    Thanks! Such a simple piece of advice but completely true and so applicable for me! I’m a small business owner just getting into the groove of tweeting, blogging, etc…and I just saw myself!! Will be (oops!), scratch that. Thinking of your from now on when I write!

    • Deanna, You’re more than welcome. Sometimes the simple things can make all the difference. Hope your business helping others with cash flow is going well for you in New Orleans. By the way, did you celebrate Fat Tuesday last night?

  2. Carolyn, what is it you do? I clicked on the link to SocialGraces but it did not work.

  3. Christine Anderson says:

    I just eliminated “will” from some copy I’m working on, and WOW, what a difference! It feels easier to visualize the promised result. Thanks for sharing these great tips!!

    • Hi Christine. Thanks for checking out the blog post and implementing the suggestion to delete “will.” It is amazing what a big difference a little word can make it. Isn’t it? I’m thrilled that you found my tips worthwhile. Feel free to share them with others. Much appreciated. Have a great day.

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