January 28th, 2015 — copywriting, copywriting tips, Copywriting tone
Every copywriter in the land loves creating content.
Every copywriter in the land hates the editing process.
It’s very easy to be objective with someone else’s writing, but when it comes to your own taking a red pen to it can be like severing a limb.
The problem is every piece of content you generate will need editing. If you don’t edit you’ll never turn your good content into great content.
So where do you start?
The long and the short of it
When you start on a project, just write. It doesn’t matter how bad it is, write everything you can think of because it’s much easier to cut during your edit than add.
Once you’ve finished the editing process all the phrases and sentences that made you cringe will be gone, leaving you with the most powerful words.
All writers are guilty of having a favourite phrase, sentence etc., in their writing. It may be something that came to you in a flash of genius that you just had to get into the piece you’re writing, but does it add or detract from what you’re trying to achieve?
During your edit you have to be ruthless. Keep the focus of your writing in your mind at all times and if it doesn’t fit it’s got to go.
That is especially true for the start of your content. Most writers will spend the first paragraph warming up. Take a look at the beginning and think is that the right starting place or is there a better introduction a few sentences in? It’s important to make an impact from the outset rather than gently leading the reader by the hand, because they may let go and find something more interesting to look at.
Think about your words
The easiest writing to read and understand is that which uses simple words, short sentences and short paragraphs. When you’re trying to sell, your writing has to be snappy, concise and to the point. That also means keeping your punctuation under control. Numerous commas in a sentence slows the pace and can lose a reader, oh and never, ever finish a headline with a full stop because you’re asking the reader to stop, and that’s the last thing you want them to do.
The tone of voice in a piece of writing refers to how it sounds when it’s read aloud.
Copywriters are in an odd position; the are the writers, but the message is coming from their client. Therefore the tone they adopt must fit with the company and it must also appeal to the audience.
As you edit, think about who you’re writing for, the types of phrase they would use, how they want their customers to see them and make sure you use the right tone and language to reflect their personality.
The use of active verbs can breathe life into any piece of writing, so take a good look through what you’ve written and make sure you change any areas of passivity to active-go-getting-ness.
Whichever way you look at it editing is painful, but at the end of the process you’ll be left with content that’s powerful, engaging and that will drive results.
January 22nd, 2015 — website design
You’re in the market for a new website.
After doing a bit of research you’ve whittled it down to two web design companies. Both have great reviews and testimonials, both have impressive portfolios. So which do you choose?
Company A meets with you and shows some ideas for your new site.
Its glorious full colour images far outweigh everything else on the page.
Eye-catching it definitely is, but you’re slightly concerned about how easy to use it will be.
There’s no obvious navigation. Users have to explore the image to find the links to the sub pages.
Company A tell you that this is the latest design technique that all the major players are using. If you have the same for your website you’ll be seen as an edgy, dynamic company. You like that sound of that.
Then you are visited by company B.
Their design is all together more traditional.
There are some nice touches and it looks very professional, but it doesn’t have quite the same eye-candy appeal as the other one.
They explain that it’s been designed with your customer in mind. It’s simple yet elegant navigation makes it easy for the user to find their way around. Each page has enough text on it to show the user what you do and, more importantly, what you will do for them.
You can see their point, but you’ve been dazzled by company A.
What do you do?
Well, the chances are if you go with company A, although you’ll have a stunning site no one will use it, because:
- They won’t be able to find it because the image heavy design limits it’s SEO potential
- If they do find it they won’t have a clue about how to find the information they’re looking for
Company B’s design might not win you (or rather them) any design awards, but it will get ranked (provided you have a great SEO strategy) and your customers will love it.
Every thing you do must be done for your customer. That means your website must give them what they want.
Remember, you’re investing in your companies future, not the award-winning potential of the web designer.
January 14th, 2015 — Building a business, copywriter, copywriting, marketing, Press releases
It’s the age of the entrepreneur. Businesses are springing up everywhere, so how do you get yours noticed?
As a start-up you have no track record, no testimonials, no social proof. That might sound like a brick wall, but if you can prove to the media that you can change the world you will get your story heard.
Your pitch: I can change the world
The usual course of action for a new business trying to get noticed is to write umpteen press releases, but journalists are inundated with them so how about trying a different approach?
Writing a pitch, tailored to the journalist you’re targeting, will help you stand out, but only if you write it from a benefits point of view rather than as a sales document. Give them everything they need, from your logo and contact details to ideas for your story. Remember though, as I said earlier, this isn’t a sales document. You must prove you can change the world.
What do I mean by that?
Your business, whatever it does, will solve a problem, create wealth, make someone smile or take their pain away.
Because if it doesn’t have a tangible benefit it’s not a business.
Your job is to understand that and show the reader (in this case the journalist you’re pitching to) how you change people’s lives. The “people” are their readers, so if they can smell a great story you’ll have their attention.
Who do you contact?
It’s all well and good creating a great pitch, but who do you send it to?
Every newspaper, magazine, TV and radio channel has it’s own audience. Your job is to do your research to find the journalists who write about the problems your company solves.
Because their audience will be the people who will buy your product or service.
If you want to maximise your coverage you have to match the journalist with your message.
Once you have your list, don’t just send cold pitches because they are likely to be ignored.
It’s all about who you know. Look at your contacts, is there anyone who can help you? Perhaps there is someone who can make an introduction for you?
Get in touch with journalists and build a relationship with them. See if you can help them out before pitching to them. Try to meet them in person. The stronger the relationships you forge, the more likely they are to run with your ideas.
Did they say yes?
If they say yes and run with your story, fantastic, well done. Keep in touch with them and let them know your areas of expertise and that you’re interested in being interviewed or happy to contribute to future stories.
If your idea doesn’t get picked up don’t hound them. Chase after about a week, sending your story again just in case they didn’t receive the first one. If they’re still not interested, don’t just give up. Try sending it to a different contact, even one within the same outlet – just because one person wasn’t interested doesn’t mean no one will be.
If you want people to talk about your business you have to show how you can change people’s lives.
There are too many press releases out there that try to sell. The trick to getting noticed is to show yourself as a company that puts its customers first by highlighting the benefits they receive.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd
January 7th, 2015 — marketing, Matt Cutts
When Matt Cutts speaks everyone sits up and listens.
There are loads of small businesses missing out on some great opportunities because they have made a huge SEO mistake.
They think that just because their business is small they don’t need to bother with a website.
Why should they?
They have their local customer base and no one is going to search online for them…or are they?
A website is crucial regardless of the type of business you run. If you don’t believe me, this is what Matt Cutts has to say about it:
More and more people are searching online for the products and services they need.
If you market yourself through leaflets or magazine ads you’re only reaching a small percentage of your potential market.
Get a website and make sure you’re seen by the people that need you when they need you.
December 31st, 2014 — website design
First things first, I’m not a web designer or an SEO (search engine optimisation) expert, so this post is written from a business owner’s perspective.
Having gone through 3 website design processes (and currently going through the process for the fourth time), I have learnt a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t.
Before looking at web design specifically, I want you to think about the content on your site. As a copywriter that is obviously my area or expertise and the way that’s created has a lot in common with web design.
One of the biggest mistakes I see is copy written from the company’s point of view. It tells the reader all about the business, how long it’s been in existence, how they are the leading widget builder in their field, how they value their customers and how reliable they are.
Heard it all before.
There is nothing there that makes them stand out from all the other widget makers.
Why is that so wrong?
Because the only thing the reader is concerned about is themselves. They want to know that your product is going to help them in some tangible way – saving them time, money, making them more successful etc.
What does all of that have to do with web design?
Well, when you start with your web design process you’re more than likely going to think about what you want to see.
You’re going to want to be the owner of the flashiest, quirkiest, most modern looking website out there.
You’re going to obsess over colour, images and fonts.
The problem is none of that stuff is important.
Granted, it’s got to have a professional look to it, but it’s far more important to give your customers what they want.
Because they are the ones you want to buy from you.
Think how your customers are going to view your site – ask yourself what will they want?
- Clear and logical navigation
- Useful information that’s updated regulalry
- Video how-to guides and product demonstrations
- A simple way to contact you
- Information that tells them how your products will help them
In other words they want a website that’s easy to use.
How does that measure up with the plans you had?
Remember, when designing your new website make sure you leave your ego (and your web designer’s ego) at the door. It should be designed for your customer. Everything it does should make their life easier. After all, their interaction with your website will probably be the first impression they get of your company, so if it’s all about them and making their lives easier they’re more likely to buy from you.