March 25th, 2015 — copywriting tips, Copywriting tone
Every piece of marketing you write will be aimed at someone.
There are times when that will be one specific person and others when it will be for a large audience.
If you’re writing to one specific person (a rarity, but it can happen), you immediately know their likes and dislikes so it creating persuasive copy should be fairly straightforward.
But happens when you’re writing for a wide audience that could be made up from those who are highly educated, highflying executives, busy mums, or just normal everyday people?
How can you possibly write to a diverse audience like that?
OK, let’s go back a step.
What are you selling?
OK. Think about how your product benefits them.
They don’t seem quite so diverse now, do they?
They all want to keep their families and possessions safe.
None of them want to feel the agony of the loss of sentimental or valuable items.
None of them want to experience the violation of having someone break into their home.
Now you have identified the pain points you have something to work with.
So what language should you use?
My view is, regardless of the level of someone’s education, they are still a person who experiences real emotions.
That means one thing – simple language.
I don’t care how many degrees they have or whether or not they passed their 11+, by keeping your language simple and to the point, your persuasiveness will be heightened.
Talk to them (yes, that means using a conversational tone) about their problems and fears and tell them you have the answer that will help them sleep soundly at night, or be able to enjoy their holiday without worrying about whether everything is hunky-dory at home.
Even if you’re addressing an audience of 1000s, each of them are listening to only one person – you.
As far as they’re concerned your writing is aimed directly at them.
So, for every piece of writing create a persona for your ideal reader. Think about who they are, what they do, what keeps them awake at night, that sort of thing. Then convince them yours is the company that’s going to make everything better.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd
March 18th, 2015 — Branding, copywriting tips, Copywriting tone, marketing
The tone of voice you use across your marketing will dictate how your customers view you.
Too stiff and formal and you’ll come across aloof and unfriendly; too casual and street and you’ll be seen as a bit flaky, a company that can’t be taken seriously.
That’s why it’s important to work out who you are from the outset.
Factors that will affect your tone of voice
Before I get into that, there’s something you must remember.
It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, or whom you do it for, never ever use jargon or industry speak in your writing.
There’s a tendency for many businesses to create random sentences formulated from impressive sounding words because they want to appear aspirational or intelligent. Well, your readers aren’t stupid. After reading your lofty prose they’ll realise it has no meaning or substance and is just there for fluff because you couldn’t think of anything else to say.
Right, back to those factors.
For starters you must know:
- Who you are and what you stand for
- Who your customers are
- What you’re selling
- Why they would buy from you
- The benefits you offer them
You can’t develop a tone of voice without that information because if you don’t know who you are as a company how will you know the personality you want to convey? If you don’t know what you’re selling or whom you’re selling to you won’t know the language you’ll need to sell it. And if you don’t know what your product is, or the benefits it offers, you’ll just be wasting your time creating content that’s meaningless.
Your tone of voice
If you’re a B2B business selling professional services of some sort or another, your language will be more formal than if you sold bespoke surfboards.
For starters, your audiences will be poles apart, but that doesn’t mean as a B2B business you have to be starchy and corporate just because you’re not selling a cool product.
On the contrary, even though you’re pitching to businesses, it’s real people that will be doing the buying. Whenever real people are involved (and that would be in every sales scenario) their buying decision will be mainly emotionally driven.
That means your content must evoke an emotional response. If your product or service saves them time that means they get to spend more time with their friends and family. If it saves money it means their business will run leaner, generating more profit that ultimately, means more earning potential.
See what I mean?
Getting back to the actual language, in the surfboard scenario it would be perfectly reasonable to see the odd “dude” in the copy. Try that as a B2B and you’ll be laughed at, but that doesn’t mean your language has to be staid and boring.
Remember, a real person will read your writing. It doesn’t matter how educated they are, it’s important to keep your language simple, unambiguous and conversational.
Because that drives engagement, has personality and is better received than formal writing.
Many people shy away from writing with personality (i.e. conversationally) because goes against everything they’ve ever learned. That’s a real shame because it works.
Look at this post. I’ve written it as though you were sat in front of me and we were talking about tone of voice. By the way, that’s a great tip for nailing conversational writing – imagine you’re sat opposite a customer and talk to them about your product, writing as you do so. You’ll be amazed at how engaging your writing becomes.
What’s the moral of this blog post?
- It doesn’t matter who you are or whom you’re trying to sell to, your writing must have personality if you want it to work
- Use language that’s appropriate to your market
- Stay away from jargon and industry speak
- Keep your vocabulary simple
- Remember you are writing for a real person
- Write conversationally to boost engagement
- You can only achieve the right tone of voice if you know who you are, what you’re selling, who your customers are the benefits your product or service offer
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd
March 11th, 2015 — blogging for business, Content marketing, Content writer, copywriting tips
This blog first appeared on Briar Copywriting‘s blog.
I have never encouraged anyone to write about his or her own business.
The quality of the marketing collateral you produce is key to your business’s success.
I know you’re sitting there reading this thinking yeah, right. You would say that, you’re a copywriter. Granted, that’s partly the reason because if I encouraged you all to write your own stuff I’d be out of a job, but that’s only a teeny-weeny part of my motivation.
Something strange happens when you run a business – you become knowledgeable. After a while you have come across just about every scenario you can think of, the information you have amassed is stifling your objectivity and you start to communicate less effectively.
No, really, you do.
Because everything about your business is like second nature to you, you begin to assume a certain level of knowledge in your audience.
As a result you start answering questions your customers don’t want to know about and you find it impossible to effectively and clearly respond to their genuine questions because you automatically assume they have a greater understanding than they really do.
Just think about it; how many times has your kid come to you asking for help with their homework? They’ve told you want they’re studying and the question they need to answer, but because you have a higher level of knowledge than them, you immediately launch into an answer that brings in all sorts of other facts that they haven’t even learnt yet leaving them more confused than before.
The same thing happens when you try to write your marketing materials. Rather than starting at the base level and building on knowledge, you immediately launch in to a complex and convoluted answer that just confuses.
Because it’s hard for you to believe that someone else doesn’t have the same knowledge level as you, you become a hopeless communicator. It happens to everyone, no matter what field they are in.
Overcoming your knowledge block
The main problem with your knowledge block is that once the information is in your head you can’t get rid of it. You can’t suddenly decide to “unknow” stuff, so you have to find a way to suppress your knowledge.
For some that’s like dumbing down what they know, but it’s not. It’s an effective way of clearly getting your message across to your audience.
When first meeting with a new client, I always tell them to treat me like a customer – they mustn’t assume I know anything. In fact, even if I’ve written for the same industry before my knowledge level is zero because I don’t know their business.
Even then I usually end up stopping them and asking them to clarify something because they’ve used a term or language that’s confusing or assumes a certain level of knowledge that neither I nor their customer has.
The best way to avoid this trap is to get someone else (a professional copywriter) to create your copy for you. But if you insist on doing it yourself make sure you follow these steps:
- Write down what you want to say
- Review it to make sure it is aimed at your customer, highlighting benefits, and not about you and your company
- Review it again and simplify the language and remove any jargon
- Get someone not connected with your business to read it to see if they understand what you’re saying and whether it would make them buy/get in touch etc.
- If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board and start again
- Keep going until you write something that’s simple, clear, engaging and compelling
Despite what you may think, writing marketing copy is not easy. If it were copywriters, like me, wouldn’t exist.
March 4th, 2015 — Building a business, Content marketing, Content writer, copywriting tips
The UK is the 1st country to spend more than half of it’s Ad spend on digital.
GroupM carried out the research, which showed that in 2015, £1 or very £2 spent on advertising will go to digital online media.
Apparently, it can be directly linked to our smartphone culture. According to Adam Smith of GroupM:
“The British are the most enthusiastic online shoppers in the world in terms of spend per head. And there has always been a high level of credit and debit card use [online]. On top of that Britons have rapidly embraced smartphone and tablet use, all of which has fuelled where advertisers spend their money.”
How will this affect your business?
With more and more people using mobile technology for shopping, it’s essential you have a responsive web presence that works across all devices.
Plus, your online content has to be red hot.
How do you do that?
- Your website must be focused on your customers
- Benefits and USPs must be highlighted
- You must offer a simple buying process
Above all, your content marketing must be your top priority.
People will only find you if you deliver consistently high quality content that’s focused on your customers’ needs.
Your customers are interested in getting the best for themselves. They’re not interested in you, only what you can do for them.
That ‘s why it’s essential you separate yourself from your business when writing. Your articles aren’t sale pitches; they should be informative, relevant and be beneficial to your reader.
In simple terms, to make sure your business stays one step ahead:
- Invest in making your digital marketing as strong as possible
- Make sure everything is written for your customer
Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting
February 25th, 2015 — proofreading
I don’t know whether you saw it, but last week I posted on Briar Copywriting’s blog about the £8.8m proofreading blunder.
Well, according to a recent article in the i newspaper, it would appear that failing to proofread things isn’t modern day phenomena and it has led to some startling results.
Just in case the image above is hard to read, here are the 6 proofreading errors:
The UK’s biggest tourism drive, which cost £125m, sought to entice visitors to our shores in 2012. Unfortunately, a global poster campaign had to be pulled as it referred to the Brecon Beacons as the ‘Breacon Beacons’.
A trader on the Tokyo stick exchange wanted to trade one share at 610,000 yen in 2005. Instead, he accidentally sold 610,000 shares at one yen each. His firmlost an embarrassing 27bn yen (£150m).
Stroke of Luck
A US car dealership produced 50,000 scratch-cards offering $1,000 in 2007. A misprint resulted in every ticket being a winner. The firm appeased customers by offering them gift cards, setting it back $250,000.
NASA’s Dashed Hopes
A single missing hyphen in the coding used to set trajectory and speed of Mariner 1, NASA’s first interplanetary probe, caused the craft to deviate from the correct course moments after take-off in 1962. The £53m craft was destroyed.
One For The Books
In 1631 printer Robert Barker produced 1,000 Bibles for Charles I, but an omitted ‘not’ meant the Seventh Commandment read “Thou shalt commit adultery”. The book was dubbed the Wicked Bible and Barker went out of business.
The search engine giant Google was actually supposed to be named ‘Googol’, but when registering the domain name in 1997, a slip of the finger resulted in the website we know today.