Entries Tagged 'Copywriting briefs' ↓

SMEs and Copywriting

Writing phobia

Do you have a fear of public speaking?

Perhaps you’re none to keen on clowns, buttons or flying.

Whatever your fear, you’re not alone.

The funny thing is that if your fear is one of the above you’re quite happy to talk about it. But there’s one fear many SMEs and small business owners don’t like to talk about – the fear of writing.

Are you bothered about how your customers see you?

Everything you write reflects on your business.

Your customers will get their first impression about your company from your website, emails, newsletters, press releases, articles…I could go on forever.

What impression are they getting?

The words you use will influence their opinion of you so it’s essential you get it right first time.

Feeling the pressure now?

One of the main objections SMEs have about using the services of a professional copywriter is that the writer doesn’t know their business as well as they do.

That’s true, but that’s not why you hire a copywriter.

You need one because they know what words to use to reach out to your customers, engage with them and convince them to buy from you.

Through their expertise your company looks professional, caring and focused on your customers’ needs.

What a copywriter can do for you

The main task that many companies are happy to outsource is the writing of their web copy. After all, not only does that have to engage the reader it also has to work well in the search engines, so you have to know what you’re doing to get the results you want.

But other than website copywriting, a copywriter will also create:

  • eBooks – to build your reputation
  • Press releases – to boost your exposure
  • Blogs posts and articles – to bolster your online marketing
  • Landing pages – to give weight to your offers
  • Sales letters – to make sure they don’t get binned
  • Ads and product descriptions – to make sure they sell the benefits
  • Taglines – to get you remembered
  • Emails – to boost your sales and build customer relationships
  • Brochures – to make sure they sell and not just inform
  • Speeches and presentations – to drive your message home
  • Profiles and bios – to tell the world what you do and how you can help
  • Video scripts – to engage your audience
  • Re-purposing content – to reach all your customers
  • SEO copy – to boost your visibility in the search results
  • How to guides and tutorials – to help your customers’ understanding

How many of those could you do with to strengthen your marketing efforts?

The greatest strength you have is to know your weaknesses. Your business and your customers deserve the best. Finding a copywriter that you can work with will result in an exponential growth of your business and happy customers that will return time and time again (and bring their friends).

Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd

 

How to Work With a Copywriter

Over the past 18 months or so, I’ve noticed that more and more of my clients are first time copywriter users. Sally Ormond

As such, I have been explaining how the whole process works several times over, hence this post.

If you’re considering working with a copywriter, but aren’t too sure about what that entails, what follows is a brief outline of the process (at least the way I work) so you know what to expect.

Before I get started I just want to stress a couple of things:

  • It is a collaborative process, so you will have to be involved
  • You will have to provide information and direction to your copywriter

It doesn’t matter how highly recommended your writer is, he or she isn’t a magician or a mind reader, so you’re going to be the primary information source about your business, market and customers they’ll need to tap into.

Briefing your writer

The first step (once you’ve chosen your writer) is to brief your copywriter.

Just saying ‘we’re a financial services firm that deals with professional people’ isn’t going to cut it. You must to tell your writer everything:

  • What your business does
  • Who is does it for
  • What’s unique about it
  • How your products/services work
  • What the main benefits are that you offer
  • The background of your business
  • Why people want your product or service
  • What the factors are that stop them from buying from you
  • What is your offer?
  • What do you want your website visitors to do?
  • Who your customers are and what they need

Once you’ve gone through all of that, you must also think about the style of the writing – do you want it conversational, professional, something that makes you sound approachable? A great idea is to provide links to examples of the tone that you want to achieve.

Oh, and before you start rambling in your industry jargon, don’t. You’re copywriter will not write in jargon. Instead they will adopt a plain English approach because that works.

This process may take a while and may involve several conversations, but bear with your writer because it’s in your best interests that they get all the information they need and have a firm understanding of your business. Trust me, there’s nothing more frustrating for a copywriter than to get as far as the first draft only to be told they’ve missed out information that they were never party to in the first place.

Also, if there is a style that you really hate, provide examples so your writer knows not to go down that particular avenue.

Research

You’re probably thinking that they’ll now go away and write something for you within a day or two.

Wrong.

It’s at this point they go away and do some research into your industry and your business. Plus, there’s a lot of thinking that has to go on – creating eye-catching, powerful copy doesn’t happen overnight.

Only when they have everything they need will they begin to plan and structure the first draft.

First draft review

OK, let’s get one thing straight right now, this is the first draft – it’s called that because it’s not the final draft.

You wouldn’t expect your web designer or graphic designer to hit the nail on the head straightaway, so give your copywriter the same chances.

Writing is very subjective and, because the copy is being written for your customers, it may take you a while to ‘get it’. The copy is not about you, it’s about what you can do for your customers; that’s something a lot of clients have a hard time dealing with.

I’ve lost count of the number of clients who say ‘oh no, our website is there just for information, we don’t want to sell through it’ when they read the first draft, worried that it’s not talking about them enough. Firstly, a website is there to sell (otherwise what’s the point in having it) and secondly, the writer you are using has years of experience so trust them – they know what they are doing.

Once you get the first draft, read it through several times to get a feel for it. Resist the urge to attack it with red pen if you find a typo or two (these will be gone by the final version). Remember, this is a first draft; it’s used to test the water.

Frequently, I’ll be asked for an informal, conversational tone, but when the client sees it they decide it’s too informal. You see, everyone has different ideas about what a style should mean and it’s only when it can be seen for the first time that decisions can be made as to whether it’s the right approach or not.

Ideally, when reviewing the copy, go through and highlight the areas you like as well as those you don’t to give your writer a clear idea of how you want to proceed. Also, this is the time to check facts and content to make sure everything is covered from the brief.

Provided you’ve given constructive feedback that is clear, your writer will have enough to work on to produce the second draft.

Second draft

Having taken on board all your feedback, your copywriter will now go away and produce a second draft.

This will incorporate your comments about the tone, content and layout, shaping the copy into something that you will want to use on your website (brochure, case study etc.) and be proud of. It’s also the time for thorough proofreading to banish any typos or grammatical errors.

Once ready, this new version will be sent back to you for your review. Assuming every thing’s now exactly as you want it, congratulations you’ve got great copy. But if there are still a few changes to make, these can be easily sorted and a third draft sent to you for your sign off.

As you can see, the whole process is very collaborative, which means you must talk to your writer.

The chances of hitting the right tone and content straight away are slim, so you shouldn’t be surprised if it’s not quite right. If the first draft is not working for you, pick up the phone (or send an email) to talk about it. They can’t work with you if you don’t talk to them.

 

Author: Sally Ormond

What Value do you put on Good Copywriting?

As a professional copywriter I hoped I’d never have to write this post. the value of copywriting

Writing is part and parcel of every organisation’s marketing strategy. It’s fundamental to your web presence, print materials, social media activities, video marketing…you get the picture.

And yet, considering how important it is, many companies are still opting for the cheap option rather than seeking out the experienced, professional writer they need.

As a copywriter, I love working with clients that really value great copy. We both get a real buzz from the collaborative process and, from my perspective, I get to work with someone who understands the importance of every word I use.

But too many companies shop for a writer on price alone, seduced by the “I’ll write a page of web copy for £10”  - is that really the value you’d place on your company?

No really, by opting for the ‘cheap copywriters’ you’re devaluing your own company’s reputation, because poor copy will affect your bottom line.

Plastic surgery vs copywriting

For a moment, let’s imagine you’ve decided to get a nose job. You’ve never liked the one you have, so you start to shop around for a plastic surgeon.

What do you do?

a)    Get a load of quotes and go for the cheapest one?

b)   Go by reputation and recommendations?

If you opt for a) you’ll end up with a crooked nose that’s ten times worse than your natural one. People stare at you and then walk on by looking the other way hoping you won’t engage them in conversation.

But, if you opt for b) you’ll end up with a work of art that people will compliment you on. You’ll instantly become more popular and successful with people beating down your door just to be seen out with you.

The same happens if you apply those options to your copywriting.

Going for a) (i.e. the cheapest quote) will lead to sub standard copy that, at the very least, won’t sell a bean and could even damage your reputation. Plus, you’ll end up having to hire another copywriter to re-write it because it’s not selling.

But, being sensible and going for option b) will mean you’ll get fantastic copy that resonates with your readers, draws them in and sells your products or services. Plus, because you’re using well written, engaging copy, your reputation will be enhanced.

Are you still going to opt for the cheapest writer?

The first impression many people will have of your company is going to be in writing: your website, brochures, newsletter, email, case study etc. Can you really run the risk of falling at the first hurdle?

How to find the right copywriter

When you look for your next copywriter, don’t go by cost alone:

  • Call a few up, have a chat and find out what they can do for you
  •  Ask who they’ve written for
  •  Get them to send you some examples of their work

Most good writers will work to fixed fees rather than hourly rates (and certainly not a per word rate) and they’ll need a detailed brief before they can quote you, but they may be able to offer a ball park figure to give you an idea of costs.

The actual cost should be your last consideration because your company’s reputation is at stake.

Professional copywriting isn’t cheap, but it is the best way to promote your business to your marketplace. It will enhance your reputation, engage your customers and persuade them to buy.

 

Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

The Questions Your Copywriter Should Be Asking

Copywriting isn’t just about writing – it’s about using the right words, to address the right people, using the right language. copywriting

Anyone can string a sentence together, but not everyone can create something so compelling you just have to buy, sign up or download a report.

It’s not enough for your copywriter just to hear that you want a 6-page brochure with 300 words on each page to cover your company history, products, location etc.

Any copywriter worth their salt will also ask you:

Who is your audience?

Before a finger touches the keyboard, they need to know whom they are writing for.

Without that information how can they begin to develop the right message?

Are they male or female?

How old are they?

Are they affluent or on lower incomes?

What are their aspirations?

Why are they coming to you? What is the problem they have that they want solved?

What is your product/service?

They don’t need to know how many colours it comes in, but rather what is its main benefit?

What problem does it solve?

What benefits does it offer?

How will it improve their quality of life?

What would stop people from buying it?

What is its USP?

What is your brand voice?

The next step is to take a look at your company.

Do you already have an established brand?

Do you have a guide as to the language/tone you want to use?

How do you want to be perceived by your customers?

Do you want to come across friendly, approachable, corporate, professional etc?

Are there any words/terms you dislike?

These questions are just the tip of the iceberg because it’s essential your copywriter comes away with an in depth knowledge of you, your business, your customers and your products.

You see, copywriting isn’t just about writing, its about emotion, engagement and persuasion.

 

Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

Who’s the Expert Here?

It’s a familiar story: you run a business and have to market it. It starts gradually, but little by little you start to build your customer base and your time shifts from marketing and promotion to fulfilling orders and customer service.

You become so obsessed by offering the best service possible your marketing activities slow right down.

After the initial rush of customers begins to dwindle you suddenly realise that you’ve taken your foot off the gas and have to start marketing like crazy again.

This cycle continues until you find yourself rocking quietly in a corner wondering why you started your own business in the first place.

Then you have a brain wave and call in the help of a professional copywriter to help you create the web copy, brochure content, emails, newsletters and case studies you need to keep the customers coming your way.

But then you realise that the copywriter you’re talking to hasn’t worked in your industry before.

What do you do?

Say goodbye to them, even though you get on and know they are the best writer out there?

I hope not, because if you do you’ve forgotten one crucial thing – you are hiring them because the have the expertise you need and that means they can write strong, persuasive and compelling copy for any industry.

What you’re about to read is an earth-shattering statement:

It is not necessary for a copywriter to have written for your industry before for them to do a cracking job for you.

Wow.

Two experts working together

The copywriter/client relationship is a collaborative one – they need you as much as you need them.

You are the expert in your field, your customers and knowing what they want. They are experts in getting that message across in an engaging, persuasive and powerful way.

That’s why you must be prepared to work with your copywriter.

They will delve deep into your knowledge wanting to know stuff like:

  • What do you do?
  • Who do you sell to?
  • Why do they need your product/service?
  • How do you help them?
  • What would stop them buying from you?
  • What action do you want them to take when they’re read this content?
  • What makes your company different to all the others?
  • How do you want to be perceived by your customers?
  • What sort of tone do you want?
  • What is your overall aim?

And that’s just for starters because they can only write about your business if you’re prepared to tell them about it.

Just saying, “I sell insurance so write me a brochure” isn’t very helpful. If you want a great end result you need to be on hand to provide all the information they need.

Think of the relationship as the coming together of two great minds with skills and knowledge that will complement each other perfectly.

What’s the best way to find the right copywriter for you?

  1. Take a look at their website and see if what they say resonates with you
  2. Take a look at their portfolio and read some of the samples, do you like their style?
  3. Pick up the phone and have a chat with them or meet with them to see if you can get along

It’s as simple as that.