Copywriting Tips for Small Businesses #5.5

Copywriting Bad ‘Uns.


A massive thank you to the people who sent me some examples of ‘underperforming’ copy, following my request on the Coast Copywriting Facebook page. (Please Like etc etc)

In fact, I’ve received so many I’m going to post a few Copywriting Bad ‘Uns from time to time. Think of them as pit stops between the main Copywriting Tips for Small Businesses posts.

Here’s a couple to get started.

I know, I know – ‘Ha ha ha, isn’t it funny when foreigners try to write English?’ I’m trying not to go too far down that road, but quite a few examples come from Ishaan from California (thanks, Ishaan) who’s been travelling the world for about two years. From a copy point of view, I would say this piece of writing starts well enough. ‘Toilet’ is short and descriptive. The first of the two sentences below ‘Toilet’ does the job, as it were, although the ‘cross’ ‘crossing’ repetition is a shame. It’s the third sentence where it really hits the fan…  Although personally I have a soft spot for the word ‘perform’ in this context.

Thanks to Catherine from Hayle in Cornwall for sharing this next one. As she pointed out, this was probably written by a Cockney, or more likely Dick Van Dyke doing an impression of a Cockney, because I’m not sure even Cockneys say pillars for pillows. Interestingly (or not) the pillars/pillows thing is a homonym – an example of two words that sound the same, but read differently. Only it’s not really, because only Cockneys/ Dick Van Dyke say pillars for pillows, of course. Glad we’ve cleared that up. Anyway, it’s surprising how often homonyms slip into copy. Remain eagle I’d.

Please keep sending examples of underperforming copy to wordsbymartin@gmail.com.

Martin Philp is a freelance copywriter for SMEs and brands. Get in touch now.

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