• Orit Wittenberg

5 Copy hacks I picked up at Trader Joe’s

When it comes to getting the message across in a fun, human, and playful way, TJ's got it down pat.

A party in my hand


From their in-store signage to their hard-copy “Fearless Flyers” and their online marketing materials, TJ's knows just how to engage its customers.


So what’s their secret? And how can copywriters give their clients or customers that party-in-your-hand feeling too?


Here’s what I’ve teased out (100% unsolicited) after obsessing over their copy for, well, let’s just say a while.



1. Keep your copy perfectly on-brand.


Their flyer jives seamlessly with their in-store branding, which jives with their online vibes.


Just like customers know what to expect when they walk into a store, they can pretty well guess what they’ll find in a flyer or newsletter. And they won’t be wrong.


A brand is a brand is a brand. No matter what the format.



2. Embrace silliness.


As long as it’s on brand, don’t be afraid to be ridiculous!


Trader Joe’s uses tons of wordplay and puns that could be eye-roll inducing at a formal event, but people eat it up on paper because…okay fine, it’s kinda funny. And, since no one’s around to judge their reactions, they’re allowed to enjoy it.


People engage differently with text, so go for it and make it as punchy as you darn well please.



3. Be both predictable and surprising.


When you read Trader Joe’s copy, you’re struck by how wonderfully predictable the format and style are, and yet how riveting it is to see how they’ve filled in the blanks this time.


That balancing act between predictable and surprising is where the magic happens.


Think about a classic rom-com that follows a generic storyline. You know just where the plot’s headed, but that doesn’t stop you from leaning in and letting the tears flow when the two lovebirds finally live happily ever after.


Copy works the same way. At least it should. Predictable enough to make readers feel safe, surprising enough to keep them engaged.



4. Offer value with no strings attached.


Offering real (free) value builds trust and a sense of reciprocity.


That’s why Trader Joe’s flyers aren’t about hot deals and sales. They’re about information and ideas: recipes, product backstories, and even surprising nutritional facts you didn’t know about peas.


The customer walks away with lots of value gained and not a penny spent. And Trader Joe’s walks away with another loyal customer.



5. Drive your products by telling stories.


Storytelling is where content meets copy, because a compelling story sells.


When you describe your product like an expert storyteller spins a tale, you give your customers with a reason to connect to your product (and your brand).


When your product description for your Maple Ginger Cookie Swirl Ice Cream begins with, “While pumpkin has been king of the ring for as many fall seasons as we can remember, maple has steadily gained steam and made a name for itself in all manner of fall frivolity on our shelves” – you’ve piqued my interest.


When you follow that up with, “To put it plainly, if we were to distill the feeling of fall down to a single spoonful, this Ice Cream would be it!” you’ve just sold me right there.


And by the time I reach the price at the bottom of the story, I am already so sold on the value, it seems like a total steal.


So much more compelling than: “Maple Ice Cream $2.99”.


Here’s to the power of good copy in building trust, loyalty, and strong business-customer relationships.

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