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Feb

05

A Copywriting Lesson from Eulogies


A copywriting lesson from eulogies

“He’s either kidding or lost it all together, or this is going to be a serious stretch!”

I can hear what you’re thinking.  Stay with me for 63 seconds.  This will be a quick one.

I’ve been a copywriter for about 5 years, crafting strong, compelling messages that strike an emotional chord.  Two years ago, I had to craft words of an entirely different kind.

On a warm summer night at St. Mary’s in Port Washington, Wisconsin, I gave the eulogy at my grandma’s funeral. 

No, I didn’t draw from my experience as a copywriter.  It came naturally and effortlessly.  And it resonated with my audience because I followed five principles that apply equally as well to copywriting.

I didn’t have help when I wrote my grandma’s eulogy, but I recently came across a book by Cyrus M. Copeland, “Farewell, Godspeed: The Greatest Eulogies of our Time”.

5 simple copywriting tips for all marketers

Mr. Copeland’s tips:

  1. Start strong.  Great eulogies don’t begin with “We are gathered here today to remember so-and-so…” (except in the movies).  By the same token, don’t start your web or print copy with clichés. 
  2. Personable is preferable.  Great copy, like great eulogies, tells stories, often in the first person, and often irreverent.  Readers and web visitors (and mourners) want something real.  If you can elicit a genuine laugh, all the better (yes, even at a funeral.)
  3. Tell the truth.  ‘Nuf said.
  4. Be specific.  This is a tried and true copywriting tip, but apparently it applies to eulogies, too.  If you could just as easily be talking about Aunt Mary as Aunt Bertha, you haven’t acccomplished anything.
  5. Finish memorably.  End on a powerful updraft.  True for web copywriting and print copy, and true for eulogies.  James Woods’ eulogy on Bette Davis contained these last words: “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy eternity.”  Memorable finish indeed.

Check your web copy and print marketing materials

See if your web copy or print copy passes the “eulogy test”.  And if you ever have the honor of giving a eulogy for a loved one, check out Cyrus’s book.


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