Entries from June 2009 ↓

Copywriting – Metaphorically Speaking

metaphorEveryone knows what a metaphor is. Every work of fiction that you pick up is jam packed with them. By transferring the qualities of one object to another can enhance that object’s emotional impact and change the way the reader sees things.

Metaphors simplify complex principles into imagery that the reader can relate to, break down and fully understand. They enable them to picture the scenario you are describing in terms that they can relate to.

You may be asking yourself why a copywriter is writing about a literary aid such as this. Well, metaphors also have a place in business writing – they can be one of the copywriter’s most persuasive and powerful devices in their literary armoury.

When people ask me how to write good sales copy I always employ a metaphor – write as though you were having a chat over a coffee. Picture yourself sat telling your best mate about this fantastic product and what it has done for you. By employing this method you are steered away from using descriptive language and start to use figurative speech.

Emotional Logic

Buying decisions are always based on emotion and logic, and metaphors can be powerful in attaching emotional significance to the seemingly mundane. When they are used creatively and with imagination, metaphors will colour your writing with feeling and paint pictures in your reader’s mind.

If you use tried old clichés your writing will sound tired – try to be original. I know that is often easier said than done but it will help your writing sound more imaginative and add vibrancy to your persuasive argument.

By employing metaphors you will be adding a while new dimension to your writing. It will become vibrant, vivid and vivacious. Your readers will be able to connect with it. They will be inspired.

Why You Should Outsource Your Copywriting

I know, I’m a freelancer so I’m bound to say that you should outsource your copywriting.

But don’t just dimiss it. Take a few minutes to think about it.

What happens to you when you are exposed to the same environment continuously?

  1. You become totally enveloped by your surroundings and the culture of your business.
  2. Before you realise what is happening, you are speaking a different language to the mere mortals that exist outside your work realm.
  3. Your products are fantastic (in your eyes anyway) and you can’t think of a single reason why someone wouldn’t by them.
  4. You love every feature of it.

Well, there are 4 very good reasons why you should get a freelance copywriter in to write your web copy, brochure copy, newsletters, email campaigns etc etc etc.

You see what a copywriter will bring to the table is:

  1. A fresh pair of eyes.
  2. Copy that isn’t littered with jargon and techy phrases.
  3. An objective view of your product.
  4. An ability to identify and sell the benefits of your product.

Now doesn’ that sound like the perfect solution? Find a great freelancer and you’ll develop a relationship that will see your sales soar, an increase in your targeted web traffic and greater visibilty in the marketplace.

Everyone thinks they can write well, and to be fair, some people can. But assuming you can write great sales copy just because you are literate is rather like me assuming I can handle an F1 car just because I can drive.

Just as you would get in a professional if you have any electrical, plumbing or IT problems, why not get in a professional to ensure your sales copy is as strong as possible.

Copywriting and Editing

Cor, I wish I could write like you…You make it look so easy….Yeah, but it’s alright for you, you’re good at this

As a copywriter it is my job to be able to create compelling and persuasive copy to sell your product or service to a target audience. The above are just some of the comments I get when people see my work.

I hate to dispel the mythical aura around what I do, but the final result that is published isn’t the first result that I come up with.

One of the keys to great writing is careful editing. It is a vital part of the writing process and one that many people skip to save time. But if you do skip it, you’ll end up with error ridden copy that isn’t effective. Here are a few tips to help with this important stage of the creative process:

  1. Take a step back – when you’ve done as much as you can do in the first draft, walk away. Not permanently but just leave it alone for a while. Go and walk the dog, have a cuppa, read, get on with another project…anything that will take your mind off what you’ve just written. You’ll be amazed at how many errors you find when you return.
  2. Remember your reader – it is very easy to forget who you are writing for. Think about your target audience. Is the tone right for them? Are you using the correct language – is it too high-brow? Make sure you don’t use any jargon. Is it convincing?
  3. Get your pruning sheers out – now is the time to be ruthless. Cut down any overly long sentences. Make sure their construction is simple to read and understand. Remove any grandiose words. Keep your writing active.
  4. Don’t trust the spell checker – it is the one feature of Word that has made us all lazy. Rely on it at your peril. Check and re-check real names. Make sure you’re using the right contractions (i.e. you’re when you mean you are). One tip here is that I read sentences backwards because it forces you to concentrate on every word.
  5. Print and read – I don’t know about you, but I hate reading off a screen. By far the easiest way to edit your work and spot mistakes, is to print it off and read it aloud. You might feel a bit of a Charlie but it will help you spot mistakes, identify overly long sentences and change words to get the right sound and rhythm so it is easy to read and understand.
  6. Hit it again Sam – Just when you think you’re ready to publish, stop and go through points 1 – 5 again. Go through them as many times as you like until you are 100% happy with your work. You only get one shot at it so you have to make sure it’s right.

Error ridden copy is sloppy, unprofessional and won’t portray your company in a very good light. It really is worth taking the time to get it right.

So I guess the real moral of this story is don’t leave the writing to the last minute. Be prepared – if you are running a DM campaign, reworking your web copy or carrying out an e-shot you know you will need copy, so make sure you allocate sufficient time to get it written.

Copy for People Suffering From S.A.Ps

After browsing the net the other day I came across this great post by Sherice Jacob for CopyBlogger – How To Write Copy for Short Attention Spans.

As a freelance copywriter I know all too well the problem you encounter when your audience suffers from the dreaded S.A.Ps or Short Attention Spans.

Sherice’s tips illustrate how this particular annoyance can be over come. I hope you find them useful.

No matter how gripping your sales copy is, it’s an unfortunate fact that the majority of people will only read the first few lines of it. Does that mean all the effort you poured into the perfect call to action is wasted? Not at all! But in today’s fast-paced world of communication, less really is more.

Taking into account that many people will be reading your copy from a mobile device or skimming after a quick search, it’s worth breaking up larger thoughts into small, mentally-digestible “chunks” for easy, quick scanning.

Begin With the Action in Mind

Many copywriters go about the process in reverse – filling up the valuable top left space with lofty promises no one really cares about and then spend the rest of the page getting to the product or service that’s going to bring the eventual offer.

While this type of approach is great for harnessing your long-term readers, you don’t want to alienate the visitors who are judging your site’s relevance for the first time. Some people, when they’re confronted with a long sales page, will skip right to the bottom to find out the cost, then jump right back up to the top if they feel it’s worth their time (are you nodding your head, too?)

So how do you attract the quick browser and convince them that your page is worth their time while appealing to the more serious reader who’s in it for the “long haul”?

So What?

One of the best exercises I’ve ever done to help with this process is to continually ask myself “so what?” Whittle down your copy to the raw benefits that directly engage your readers:

“XYZ company can save you up to $500 on your car insurance by helping you get a free quote online” – So what?

“Put an extra $500 in your pocket today” – Now I’m listening!

You don’t have to forego imagination for the sake of clarity either. There are some products where using the right word can make all the difference while still condensing the overall message – like so:

“XYZ chocolate makes a terrific gift. Order now for great savings and fast shipping” – So what?

“Get sinfully delicious chocolate delivered right to your door.” – I’m interested!

Strategic Chunking Retains Readers

Take a closer look at your pages – especially the very first paragraph. How can you condense and filter your message to attract the casual browser and convince them to stay? Are you making good use of headlines, sub-headlines, photos and captions? Does your call to action really call them to act or is it buried under heaps of text?

Try “chunking” your message and test it on your audience. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many more people stick around to keep reading!

10 Reasons to Survey

survey-_customerTo survey or not to survey, that is the question.

Well, it seems a bit daft even asking whether you should survey your customers every now and then. Surely it’s common sense to ask your buyers’ opinions about your products, your service and your sales material.

After all, sitting in your ivory tower brain storming about what you think your customers want won’t give you a true opinion. The only people that can really answer that question for you are your customers.

A good survey can tell you a lot about your market and the perception of your company within that market.

Here are 10 very good reasons why your marketing and sales strategy would benefit from regular surveying:

  1. Discover what your readers want to see on your web site to make them revisit and buy.
  2. Find out how your products can be improved opening up a whole new market for you.
  3. Get an insight into what products your customers would like to be able to buy in the future.
  4. Use the feedback to improve your customer service.
  5. Discover how you can make your DM and adverts more appealing.
  6. Raise your newsletter readership by discovering what type of articles people want to read.
  7. Improve the design of your web site to encourage visitors to stay there longer.
  8. Identify any non-related products your customers are interested in which could help you expand into different markets in the future.
  9. Discover how to optimise the price of your product.
  10. Discover the life styles of your customers – places they frequent. This could open up new marketing opportunities for you.

You can learn so much from a survey. Yes they can be time consuming, and yes they normally get pushed to the eternal bottom of the ‘to do’ pile. But I hope this has helped you see the value of the humble survey.

Seize the initiative. Devise and circulate your survey and reap the rewards of enhanced customer relationships.

Sally Ormond is a professional freelance copywriter with extensive experience in the B2B and B2C markets. Her comprehensive range of copywriting services has helped countless companies increase their sales and market visibility whilst saving them time and money.