#1 Secret to Writing Great Copy

Posted on: April 8, 2014 by: DedePerkins



Before we get to the #1 secret to writing great copy, I’d like to list a few features of the new Honda Civic. This won’t take but a minute.

So Many Features

The Honda Civic is a safe car. Check out these features:

  • Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) II Body Structure
  • Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD)Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
  • Dual-Stage, Multiple-Threshold Front Airbags (SRS)
  • Front 3-Point Seat Belts with Automatic Tensioning System
  • SmartVent™ Front Side Airbags
  • Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH): Lower Anchors (2nd-Row Outboard), Tether Anchors (2nd-Row All)
  • Side Curtain Airbags with Rollover Sensor
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
  • Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with Traction Control

It’s a car that performs well:

  • 143-hp, 1.8-liter, 16-valve, SOHC i-VTEC® Engine
  • Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
  • Drive-by-Wire Throttle System

The Honda Civic is a car built to be environmentally friendly (as much as a car can be):

  • Eco Assist
  • ECON Button


Start Something Special

You get the idea: The Honda Civic has lots of terrific features. So when copywriters sat down to write the script for a new Honda Civic 30-second television commercial, they focused on Civic’s features, right?

Well no, not exactly. Take a look at what they produced – Honda’s award-winning “Start Something Special” television commercial:



What did you see?

Did you see or hear anything about Honda’s 143-hp, 1.8-liter, 16-valve, SOHC i-VTEC® Engine?

Honda 1



How about Honda’s Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)?

Honda 2



Or Honda’s Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD)?

Honda 3



No, you didn’t.

What you did see and hear, however, was how Paul’s Honda Civic was there on his first date, on the day he proposed to his wife, and on his first anniversary.

Yes, the Honda Civic has lots of great features, but so do other cars. Honda’s “Start Something Special” campaign sold cars because the campaign made you FEEL the way Paul felt about his car, and that was pretty darn great. The commercial aligned the brand with a successful young person starting out on the great adventure of his life, a person who chose a Honda Civic as his car of choice.


An Old Saying

There’s an old saying: People don’t remember what you say, but they remember how you made them feel.

Honda made viewers feel the way Paul felt on his best first date. Viewers felt Paul’s anticipation caused by the small box in a glove compartment, and then the pay-off – celebrating his first anniversary.

And the commercial appeals to nearly everyone – the young kid dreaming of his or her first car and the older person remembering what it felt like to be young and vital, with lots of life ahead.


The #1 Secret to Writing Great Copy

Go, Honda.

So, back to the #1 secret of writing great copy: Focus on benefits, not features. Show your audience the end game, how he or she will feel when your service or product makes his or her life BETTER.

Remember, most buying decisions come from the heart, not the head. Though people think they make a decision based on rational input, the vast majority of us make a decision because it feels right.

Does that mean you never mention the features? Of course not, but you lead with the benefits.

There are so many amazing examples of award-winning headlines and advertising copy. Hmmm…maybe that’ll be my next post.

Until then, think benefits, benefits, benefits.

Happy writing.


Dede - headshot small Dede Perkins has over 25 years of writing, branding and marketing experience with businesses and non-profit organizations.





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