Entries Tagged 'copywriting tips' ↓

The Importance of Being Human in Your Marketing

There’s no room for personality in business.


Are you sure about that?

If you are the type of business owner that believes all your marketing communications should be straight, professional and (for want of a better word) boring, it’s time to be enlightened.

Have a think about the marketing messages that resonate with you.

What was it that made you sit up and take notice.

I would hazard a guess at the way it ‘spoke’ to you. After all, if the message is boring and mundane it’s going to get lost amongst the many thousands of other marketing messages out there. If it’s to get noticed it must have personality.

Let’s face it, when you go into a store, if you’re met by disinterested store assistants who look bored to be there, you’re more than likely going to walk straight out the door again.

Likewise, if you land on a website in your search for that new wonder gadget you’re after and are faced with reams of boring text that tells you nothing other than it’s colour, power outage and that it’s “ground breaking” without any qualification to back that statement up, you’ll hit the back browser and look elsewhere.

That’s why your marketing, no matter what shape or form it takes, must have personality.

Brand POW or brand pop?

Every piece of marketing you put out must reflect the brand image you’ve worked so hard to build.

You do have a brand image, right?

The idea behind this consistent message is that your customers will get to recognise you from your style, colours, words and images.

OK, sure, small companies are unlikely to get the instant recognition enjoyed by the big players such as Apple, IBM, Nike or John Lewis, but a consistent message will help people identify you with the values you hold dear.

Building your personality

If you are a sole trader or an individual service provider, you shouldn’t need to work too hard on building your personality – it’s already there.

All you have to do is write your marketing materials from the heart.

When customers read your stuff, it should be consistent with the person they meet. If there’s a huge disconnect, they are less likely to do business with you.


Because from the moment they read your brochure or website, they began to form a relationship with you. They have, in their mind, an impression of who you are and what you’ll be like to work with. If, when they meet you, the real you is completely different that relationship will break down.

How do you get your personality across?

Write as though you were having a conversation with your customer. Picture yourself in your favourite pub, relaxing over a glass of wine (beer etc.) chatting about how you can help them. In real life, you’ll use simple language, no jargon and you’ll explain things in a way that makes them instantly accessible. This type of approach will make your customers warm to you and be more likely to talk to you to ask your advice because you won’t be going in for the hard sell.

It takes a bit of practice and goes against all the rules of academic writing that were drilled into you at school, but it will pay off if you persevere at it.

If you run a larger company my advice is the same.

The personality that comes through is that of your business, which means clearly identifying the values you want to reflect. Again, a simple, jargon-free conversational tone will work best in your marketing copy creating an impression of warmth and openness.

To create your personality:

  • Think about the values that are important to you
  • Write in a simple, jargon-free conversational tone
  • Think about how you want your customers to see you


Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd

Copywriting the Kirstie Allsopp Way

Copywriting and Kirstie Allsop

If you’re looking for a new home, there’s no one better than Kirstie Allsopp to help you find it.

As a fan of Location, Location, Location I enjoy tuning in to watch Kirstie and Phil Spencer attempt to find the perfect homes for two couples.

The word ‘attempt’ is used because, week after week, the couples they help sorely tempt their patience.

Just in case you haven’t seen the programme (why on earth not?), Phil and Kirstie are each allocated a couple that, for various reasons, have been unsuccessful in their hunt for a new home.

At the outset each presenter is faced with the couple’s “wish list” – i.e. ideal location, size and type of property etc. Pretty much every week they run into the same issue – their budget is incompatible with what they’re looking for. But, undeterred, the couples are determined to get everything on their list.

Every now and then they’ll get people they just can’t help because they’re not prepared to look beyond their self-imposed blinkers, but those that are prepared to compromise usually come up trumps.

What does all of this have to do with copywriting?

Well, it’s a lot like the early stages of web copy (in fact all types of marketing content, but web copy is the biggest culprit).

Web copy beyond the blinkers

More often than not, when working with clients, they have a fairly set view on how they want their web copy.

It must be:

  • Professional
  • Written to make them sound impressive
  • Centred on the business

Nothing wrong with that?

Hmm, there’s plenty wrong with it.

This is where my inner Kirstie comes out.

When faced with a wish list like that one, it’s my job to explain how web copy should really work.

It should always be written for the person who’s going to read it – that means your customers.

Because it should be written for your customers, it must be relevant to them, outlining how your product or service is going to benefit them.

To do that it must be written in plain, simple language. It doesn’t matter if your target audience have doctorates or GCSEs, the language must be straightforward and instantly accessible. No big words, no complex sentences and no jargon.

The most important thing is that your website does what it’s supposed to do – drawn in visitors and convert them into customers.

If a client is willing to look beyond their preconceptions (which I would hope they would be willing to do otherwise what was the point in hiring a professional writer?) the results is a website that works like a dream.

If they adamant that, despite all the years’ experience I have, they are right and I am wrong, I simply can’t help them because it would be very unprofessional to write what they want knowing it won’t work.

Kirstie and Phil are property experts who understand their market and what it takes to find the ‘as near as humanly possible’ ideal home.

A copywriter understands marketing and, although not an expert in your business, knows how to write to draw people in and persuade them that yours is the company they should be dealing with.

So next time you engage a writer for a project, listen to what they have to say and try not to impose any of your preconceived ideas on them. By all means talk thinks through and say what you’re looking for and then trust in their judgement about what will work.


Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd

Copywriting Lessons from Jonas Jonasson

I love reading.

When I’m not working, cycling or doing family stuff I usually have my nose firmly planted in a good book.

At the moment I’m reading “The Girl who Saved the Kind of Sweden” by Jonas Jonasson, his follow up to his best selling debut novel “The Hundred-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window and Disappeared.”

I love Jonas’s style.

His writing is simple, honest and unpretentious.

His characters are well rounded and have a depth that makes them come to life.

As for the story line, it simply draws you in and compels you to keep reading.

What has any of that got to do with copywriting?

Quite a lot as it happens.

Simple, honest, unpretentious

Jonas’s novel is a work of fiction. Your marketing copy must be fact, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring.

I’ve written many times in the past about companies demanding jargon-filled copy that’s crammed with hyperbole because they think it makes them look impressive.

The most impressive copy is that which simply tells the reader about the benefits they’ll enjoy.

You see the most effective copy is that which taps into the mind of the reader. They are your customers and therefore you should understand what makes them tick.

  • What challenges are they facing?
  • How will your product solve them?
  • How will you help them?

If you use simple language your message comes across clearly. Customers aren’t impressed by how many syllables you can cram on to a page, they just want straight-forward talking that’ll tell them what you’re going to do for them – i.e. what makes you different.

Now, in trying to uncover their USP, many companies claim all sorts of things, but never actually follow through. Granted, your promises might draw in customers, but once they realise they are empty they’ll head for the hills, but not before they’ve told all their friends on social media about you, potentially losing you even more custom.

If you’re going to make claims about great customer service, money back guarantees or incredible offers, make sure you follow through and don’t hide a myriad of terms and conditions in the small print.

In simple terms, always use this formula if you want your copy to be a success:

Simple language + benefits + honesty = compelling copy

  • Don’t try to be clever
  • Tell them how you’ll help them
  • Focus on your customers not your company
  • Be honest
  • Use simple language


Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd



Are Your Words Driving Customers Away?

You hate ‘in your face’ marketing, right? Marketing

I’m talking about those websites and landing pages that are full of hype and insincere drivel that’s supposed to make you want to buy a product you don’t need.

All you really want is the basic facts about the product and how it’s going to benefit you. Then, if it is something you can’t do without and it’s the right price, you’ll buy.

If that’s how you think, why is your website full of marketing drivel that’s driving your customers away?

I’m not talking about jargon; I mean the stuff that’s damaging your conversion rates.

Over-used phrases

How many times have you read that something’s ‘ground-breaking’ or ‘market-leading’?

“Our product is world-class…” – really, where’s your proof?

“Our new widget is first-rate…” was the old one second-rate?

These words and phrases are meaningless. Instead of wasting space with these, tell your reader why your product is great and why that is important to them. Will it make them happier, save them time, make them happier?

Over excitement

If you’re launching a new product you’re bound to be excited about it, but resist the urge to claim it’s a ‘breakthrough’ (unless you have proof), ‘innovative’, or ‘pioneering’.

It’s new; we get that, but tell us why. Explain what’s new about it and, more importantly, what it means to us as consumers. In that way you’ll be converting this new feature into a benefit.


Don’t tell us you’re the best, or incredible or the ultimate, instead tell us what you’re really like and leave words like that for your testimonials.

If you over-hype your copy no one will believe you.

Stop being meaningless

Come on now, tell the truth, does your website copywriting claim ‘fast delivery’ or ‘great customer service’?

If you want to show your customer service levels use specifics, such as the results of a customer survey. This will increase your credibility.


The last on my list, but one of the biggest offenders in the ‘meaningless website drivel’ stakes.

Leveraging and alleviating are not as powerful as ‘using’ or ‘easing’ – stop trying to be clever and write what you mean.

Come on, be honest, how many of these are you guilty of?

You see, writing simple, straightforward copy isn’t as easy as you first thought. It’s easy to splatter your copy with meaningless drivel that dilutes your message until there’s nothing left to impress your customers with.

Before you start writing think about your customer, who they are and what they want. Then keep them focused in your mind as you write using their words.


Author: Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd

Writing Copy is Easy. Writing Great Copy is Tough

Pah! Writing is simple. writing copy

All you do is write down a load of stuff about your company that tells the customer how great you are and that they should buy from you.

If that’s what you truly believe your website is probably way under performing and your marketing materials are falling on deaf ears.

Any professional copywriter will tell you that writing copy is quite easy (once a fill brief has been obtained and the research done), but things start to get tricky when you refine and edit your text to create the final draft.

How to edit your copy effectively

1. Going from long to short

It’s much, much easier to cut copy down that to pad it out, so always overwrite.

Write anything that comes to mind and then, once the first draft is finished, go back through it, be ruthless and strip out anything that’s sloppy, doesn’t fit or is irrelevant. You might also want to rearrange your copy to create a better flow.

2. Find the perfect start

A common mistake by many writers is to waffle before getting to the point. When looking back through your copy, you may well find that the first paragraph or two don’t really drive the message you want to get across. If that’s the case, cut them and start the copy from where it really gets going.

3. Be lean, mean and active

What does that mean? Well, your copy should be fast and easy to read, that means short sentences and paragraphs with simple vocabulary and punctuation.

As for the active part, this happens when you use active verbs. Rather than saying “you can improve your sales technique” try “improve your sales technique”.

4. Build credibility

You build credibility by not over promising. Make sure your claims are realistic, which can be reinforced by admitting a limitation, such as “We can’t promise to make you a millionaire over night, but our investment course will help you identify the right places to put your money.”

Credibility also relates to the price you’re asking for your product. The idea is to show the value of what you’re offering. Saying “you will have access to over £300,000 worth of photos for just £29 per month” shows value for money as opposed to “subscribe for £29 per month for unlimited access”.

As you can see, there is far more to writing copy that first meets the eye.

Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd