You’ve probably heard of Difficult, Complicated and Confusing – the 3 D’s of public speaking. So, when it comes to copywriting, you might be wondering: What does DIC stand for?
DIC stands for Difficult, Complicated and Confusing. But what does it mean in copywriting? Let’s take a closer look.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “difficult” means “marked by difficulties and challenges.”
The opposite of “difficult” is “easy.” So, when you run into difficulties as a copywriter, it means you’re working harder than you have to – and maybe even against the grain. Remember: copy is designed to be easy to understand and memorable.
Here’s an example: Say you’re creating a sales letter for a law firm, and you find the task daunting. You might be tempted to make it simpler by omitting key details or using simplified legal language. But that wouldn’t be advisable. Even the most basic details can be difficult to understand for someone unfamiliar with the law.
When you encounter difficulties in your copywriting projects, it’s a good idea to step back and examine the task critically. Are there simpler ways to say what you want to say? Could you be over-complicating things? Could you be using the wrong approach?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “complicated” means “involved in detailed or complex affairs or activities.”
The opposite of “complicated” is “simple.” So, when you encounter complicated situations as a copywriter, it means you’re dealing with a lot of variables and not enough information. This makes it tough to produce a clear picture in your mind – which, in turn, makes it tough to write about.
Here’s an example: Say you’re a pharmaceutical company and you want to develop a drug for a particular illness. You find the task daunting because there are so many factors to consider: What is the illness? Who is the target audience? What are their needs and wants? How effective is the drug in treating the illness? How safe is it? How much will it cost to bring the drug to market? How likely are they to pay for it? Etc.
The best copywriters know how to take on challenges like these. They see them as opportunities to show creative problem-solving and ingenuity. When you encounter complications in your writing projects, it’s a good idea to ask yourself, “How can I simplify the process? How can I make it easier to understand?” You might find that taking on a complicated subject is what makes your writing stand out.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “confusing” means “causing bewilderment or uncertainty.”
The opposite of “confusing” is “clear.” So, when you encounter situations that are confusing as a copywriter, it means there’s a lot of unknown information. You might not know how something will turn out, or you might not know what the most appropriate thing to say is. In that case, copywriting can become very frustrating.
Here’s an example: Say you’re a car manufacturer and you want to promote a new car model. You find the task daunting because there are so many variables to consider: What is the car? Where will it be sold? How large will the audience be? How will the car be promoted? More importantly, how will the audience perceive the car? Will they see it as luxurious, practical, safe – or something else?
The best copywriters know how to deal with situations like these. They look at the task as an opportunity to educate and enlighten their readers. When you encounter a confusing situation in your writing projects, ask yourself, “How can I break down the complexity? How can I make things clearer?” You might find that taking on a confusing subject is what makes your writing stand out.
As a copywriter, you’ll frequently come across words and phrases that have legal connotations. For example, “scam,” “fraud,” “breach of contract,” “monopolistic practice,” “unfair competition,” “unfair practice,” and “trademark infringement” are all legal terms that you’ll need to be familiar with. Knowing the law isn’t just useful in case you write about it – it’s also useful in case you need to use a particular term in a legal context. For example, if a company says your product is “patented,” you’ll need to prove them wrong – and you know who has the most leverage in a legal dispute? The person or company who can shout, “Stop calling me a patent infringer!” the loudest.
If you want to be a great copywriter, you’ll need to get used to writing in a legal environment. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the legal terminology, the different court systems, and the different ways lawyers present cases. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert to be a successful copywriter. All you need is the aptitude to take on a task, be organized, and follow a process.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a “process” means “a step-by-step or gradual way of doing something.”
For most people, a process is something that happens sequentially. You follow a set of steps to get from point A to point B. The task of a copywriter is more complicated because you not only need to know what to say, you need to know how to say it. You have to figure out the best way to present information in a clear and organized manner. You need to consider your audience and the environment in which you’ll be presenting the information. That’s a lot of variables – but that’s what makes it interesting!
Here’s an example: Say you’re writing a sales letter for a law firm and you want to promote abc Lawsuit. You might initially want to write something like, “Last year, we helped our clients to file abc Lawsuit and win a settlement of $200,000,” but in a hurry, you skip a few steps and just write, “We help clients to file lawsuits and win settlements.” Now you’ve got some work to do to explain to your readers that you meant “abc” and not “the” or “Animal,” “Basic” or “Blazin’” and that you weren’t just using the name to get a rise out of the reader. It would be best to say, “Last year, we helped our clients to file the lawsuit against abc, Inc. and win a settlement of $200,000.”
When you encounter a situation that you don’t understand, the best thing to do is step back and examine the situation critically. Ask yourself, “Is there a simpler way to say this?” Then take a moment to think about what you’ve written so far. Are there any redundancies? Are there any words and phrases that don’t serve a purpose? Look at the overall structure of your sales letter: Are there any points that could be strengthened? Could you add something that would make your letter more compelling?”
On the other hand, say you’re writing an e-mail to a potential customer and you want to stress the importance of a particular product or service. You might want to write, “As you know, virtual testing is a non-traditional means of conducting business,” but then you realize that “non-traditional” could be construed as “not complying with the norm.” In that case, you need to find a different word or phrase to describe what you’re trying to say. The fact is, when you’re writing for a legal or regulatory audience, you have to be careful about the words you choose. What doesn’t matter is whether you mean “traditional” or “non-traditional”; what matters is that the person you’re writing to understands what you mean.
As a copywriter, there will always be something new to learn. You’ll never fully understand a task – which is why we say “knowledge is power.” But, with enough practice, adaptation and education, you’ll become better and better at what you do.