The six-letter word that lazy copywriters rely on

September 25, 2013 | By | 2 Replies More

There’s a small, six-letter word that’s used far too much in copywriting…

And I don’t like it.

Do I hate it? Possibly.

To me, it’s a sign that – as a copywriter – you’re being lazy, that you’ve run out of steam and can’t be bothered to think properly about what you’re writing.

Actually, to be fair it might be that you’re writing copy for a weak product or service, so you’re forced to rely on it. But then, that’s not really a decent excuse – you shouldn’t be writing copy for weak products.

But what exactly is the word?

copywriting hair

“My hair in a few years? Either way, it’s unique!”

Well, the word I’m talking about is UNIQUE.


OK. So you might be thinking that ‘unique’ is quite a good word to use in copywriting – if a product is unique, that’s a good thing!

And yes… it is a good thing.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that finding something unique in the product or service you’re selling is one of the most important things you can do as a copywriter.

But here’s the thing…

You should NOT just say that something is unique.

To write really effective copy, you’ve got to explain WHY it is unique.

Does that make sense? I hope so.

I always use a rather ugly metaphor when explaining this, which involves a turd. I’ll avoid that this time. (Though you can probably figure it out.)

Instead, I’ll use a slightly 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 that are all the exact same length as mine and are all going off in the exact same directions.

Without doubt, my hair is unique.

Does that mean it’s good?

Nah. It’s actually pretty bad and more and more grey flecks are starting to appear each week.

Anyway, that’s not the point.

The point is that simply stating that something is unique is not enough.

Actually, the great irony here is the fact that because so many lazy copywriters rely on the word unique, it means that using the word unique is no longer unique.

When a word is used too much, it loses its meaning. (The four mentions of the word made it pretty damn annoying in the previous paragraph, right?)

Hopefully you see what I mean here and you’re starting to think if you’ve perhaps relied on the word unique too often.

If you are – that’s good. It means you can do something about it from now on.

Making unique, er… unique again

To write really good copy – be it a direct response sales letter, an indirect billboard poster or just a 90 character Facebook ad – you must go much 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 try to argue a case as to why my hair was unique I could perhaps say it’s quite thick. It’s medium brown. There are a few grey flecks on each side.

I could go on to say that when I was young I would use it to cover up my ears, because they used to stick out. (They don’t so much now – I’ve weirdly grown into them.)

You see, by digging a little deeper behind WHY something is unique, you start to pull out interesting details.

If those interesting details are missing from your copy, if it just says ‘XYZ is unique’…

You need to go back to the product or service and dig deeper.

Keep digging until you uncover that special detail that makes the product or service stand out and then use that detail to strengthen your message.

If you’ve got a good product or service, a product or service that you believe in, the special details that do make it unique will soon reveal themselves.

You just need to tease them out.


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Category: Technicals

About the Author ()

Glenn Fisher was born in Grimsby in 1981. After a number of years working in the local council, he left to become a copywriter and founded, a free online resource for direct response copywriters and marketers. For over a decade he worked with The Agora, a multi-million pound international financial publisher and in 2018, having helped launch and grow Agora Financial in the UK, he left to write copy on a freelance basis, focus on coaching aspiring copywriters and publish his first book, The Art of the Click. He now lives happily with his partner Ruth and dog Pablo on the east coast of England.

Comments (2)

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  1. Nigel says:

    Better unique than bloody passionate.

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