Entries from April 2010 ↓

Big Words Bring Heap Big Trouble


Sally is working hard in her English lessons and is producing some exciting and thoughtful stories. However, her written work would benefit from using a wider vocabulary and bigger words.”

That is what my middle school English teacher thought of my writing skills. I wasn’t using enough ‘big’ words. I’m sure many of you reading this had similar experiences at school. It was as though your intellect was being judged by the number of syllables your words contained.

After reading this, I used to keep a thesaurus beside me and changed perfectly good words for more complex counterparts.

However, as a copywriter, I am now doing the exact opposite – Ha! Take that English teacher.

Keeping it simple

Using complicated words that attempt to utilise every letter of the alphabet may make you feel more intelligent, but that’s not how your reader’s will view you.

I’m going to let you into a little secret – it’s not just you that leads a busy life.

These days, we are all running around like headless chickens trying to get everything done. Therefore the last thing we want is to be faced with ridiculously complex words.

Whether you are writing to personal customers or other businesses, the key to successful copy that works, is  simple language.

Step away from the thesaurus

People often argue that if you are writing for the B2B market, you have to write in an intellectual stuffed-shirt kind of way.


At the end of the day, your copy is going to be read by a human being. After all, despite what Dr. Who would like us to believe, the human race is still running things.

In a way it’s more important to write simply for the B2B market because you are writing for people who are incredibly busy. They want to be able to glance over your copy, be shown the benefits of your product and how to order. That’s it.

A freelance copywriter is not there to make you sound intelligent

Sorry, but we’re not.

You hire us to write strong copy that sells. Therefore when the first draft is sent to you, don’t complain that there aren’t enough three syllable words in it.

The copy’s function is to inform, convince and sell.

Let me repeat that – we are not here to make you sound intelligent. We are here to sell your products to your readers.

Consistent Email Marketing

email marketing

If, as a business, you have decided to enter the world of email marketing, there are a few things you should know.

  • It is relatively cheap
  • It is quick
  • You can reach a wide audience in one go
  • You can get information out quickly

But to get the full benefit of email marketing your approach has to be consistent. Your customers like consistency and reliability.

Follow up

Email marketing is ideal for communicating an offer to your customer base. It could be a discount or special offer or it could be in the form of information – a new report, case study or reference manual.

When your flood of responses arrive all wanting a copy, you must make sure every request is actioned. Being short handed isn’t an excuse. Your customers will expect you to have planned ahead – if it was a winning offer, they would assume you’d have enough staff on hand to deal with the enquiries. After all, a great offer isn’t any good if you don’t have the man power to deal with it.


Email marketing is also a great way to communicate new events, future offers, products or improved products. Why not survey your customers by using an online free service such as Survey Monkey. That way you’ll get feedback directly from your customers which you can use to enhance your products and services.

Keeping your customers informed in this way will show them you care; you have their best interests at heart and should you happen to get a few extra sales along the way, even better.


That is one of my favourite words referring to good old fashioned ‘give and take’.

By sending out weekly, bi-weekly or monthly tips to your mailing list, you are building a relationship of trust. You are giving them something for nothing – a very powerful thing.

Of course, what goes around comes around, so if you are seen giving them extra information free of charge, they are more likely to come to you when they need your products and services.

Keeping regular

A monthly newsletter to your customers is always a great idea. They hear from you regularly. You can use it to give more general information they may find useful. In an earlier post I mentioned the importance of segmenting your mailing list. Your newsletter is your opportunity to pop up into your list’s inbox regularly with fantastic information.

But, if you are going to do a newsletter, make sure you do send it regularly (whether monthly or bi-monthly). People will begin to expect it and if it suddenly doesn’t show up, they could be left wondering what’s happened – perhaps you’ve gone out of business?

It takes time to put together a great newsletter, but the effort will be worth it. That regular contact will ensure your company is always in the back of their minds.


Finally, another great benefit of email marketing is that it allows you to shout about your new products, services and offers.

Your mailing list will be the first to know what is happening. Give them an early bird offer to make them feel valued and to encourage them to remain subscribed to your mailing list.

Why you need to know this

If email marketing is done badly, it could harm your business. Done well, and you’ll reap the rewards.

Sally Ormond – freelance copywriter

Make Your Website Work Harder


In previous posts we’ve looked at how to improve your website’s search engine optimisation and generally how to get more traffic to your website.

Traffic is one thing but what your business really needs is more people buying.

After all, 1000s of visitors are all well and good for bragging rights at the pub, but if none of them buy it’s not great for your bank balance. Therefore you need to improve your sales through your website as well as the number of people who visit it.

Welcome to my website

People are most likely to buy a product when it’s been recommended by a friend. Of course, making friends with everyone who comes to your site in an attempt to then convince them your product is what they need, isn’t a realistic ask. But talking to them through your website is realistic.

By removing any corporate/industry jargon and creating a friendly, chatty air about your site will help enormously. Talk to them directly by using ‘you’ and ‘your’. As they read, it will be as though they are chatting to a friend and your ‘sales pitch’ will come across in a non-aggressive way.

You’ll become the personal friend providing a recommendation for your product. An approach that is far more likely to succeed.

And then he said…

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said this, but people buy from people. And I’m going to continue to shamelessly repeat myself because it’s true!

Include testimonials from past clients and not just the glowing ones. Give your reader a balanced view by posting less than glowing comments too. Even better – post the not so good ones and add a post script showing what you did to resolve the matter or improve the product. This will show your human side and show you as a business that listens to its customers and acts.

Even better than testimonials are case studies – if you can include real situations explaining what problem your customer had, why they came to you and how you solved their problem and show how their life/business has been improved as a result (draws in a deep breath – Ed.) – you’ll create a very powerful selling statement.

Picture perfect

I’ve also been known to say that pictures don’t sell, copy does. I stand by that but you can’t deny the power of the ‘before and after’ shots or an image that shows the problem and your product as the solution.

If your reader can see in an instant what your product will do for them, they’ll be hooked.

The back-hander

There are times when people will want more than just a stonkingly good sales piece. Incentives are always a great addition to your sales message. But make sure they add value to your customer – after all, everyone likes the feeling of getting something for nothing.

The million dollar question

Of course all of the above will be totally useless without a strong and commanding call to action. It might seem daft, but you really do have to tell your reader to buy.

You’d be amazed at the number of websites out there that omit this little gem. What’s the point of going to the pains of producing superb sales copy that talks to your reader it you don’t tell them how to order?

You need to know this because…

Well, if you don’t know about this and use it, your website will be an expensive brochure. It will sit there in cyber space doing absolutely nothing.

It is a sales tool, pure and simple so make sure you make it work for you.

Sally Ormond – freelance copywriter

Email Marketing – Segments

email marketing

Keeping in touch with new, prospective and existing customers has always been a headache. How much contact is too much? Should you contact them after they have purchased? Will it seem pushy if you continue to ‘pester’ them?

However, marketing to your existing customer base remains one of the most effective ways to promote your products and services.

After all, if they’ve bought from you once, they probably will again.

Be careful what you say

Although many more businesses today are turning to email marketing as a quick, effective, and relatively inexpensive method of promoting their products, they make one fatal mistake.

When an email campaign fails to deliver the expected return, it’s all too easy to blame:

  • the copy of the email
  • the subject line of the email
  • the day it was sent out on
  • the time it was sent
  • the offer it contained.

Yes, some of these could have an effect if you don’t get them right, but there is a fundamental aspect of email marketing that is more likely to blame.

It is an error that is seen time and time again. What’s more, it occurs because the business doesn’t have the right tools for the job.

If you look at your mailing list, not everyone is going to be interested in the same information. For example if you run a pet supplies company, some of your customers will be interested in supplies for their cats, some for their dogs and some for their horses.

So if you have an offer on dog collars and you send that out to everyone on your list, it will only appeal to about a third of those people contacted.

If people on your list are constantly being sent information they don’t want or need, there is a good chance that your email will either be deleted (best case scenario) or they’ll unsubscribe.

Email marketing is great if you send the right information to the right people.

Divide and conquer

The key is to devise campaigns that are only sent to the customers who are likely to be interested in them. Now, not all software will allow you to do this and some of you will have vast mailing lists which makes it an impossible task to do manually. But, if you can do it, it will make a world of difference to your response rate.

So, your dog collar promotion will only go out to your dog owners. By tailoring your marketing to the direct needs of your customers, you are maximising your opportunities of making a sale. This will also have the effect of ensuring the information you send is relevant, of interest and therefore will enhance your relationship with them.

If you ignore this and simply bang out emails again and again to your entire list, you’ll start to alienate yourself. No one wants their inbox filled with ‘rubbish’.

A monthly general newsletter to your entire list will keep regular contact with everyone (just try to make sure there is something for everyone in it). This is great to keep the name of your business in their mind so when they are ready to make a purchase they will (hopefully) come to you. But special offers must be segmented.

Why do you need to know this?

Email marketing is a very efficient way of promotion and selling, but the blanket approach will do more harm than good.

If you consistently send information to people who don’t want it, they’ll unsubscribe. It will come across as though your organisation is remote and out of touch. Taking the effort to tailor your message to your recipients will enhance your chances of a sale and strengthen your relationship with them. You will come across as someone who cares, someone who doesn’t send them useless information and only sends things that you know are relevant to them.

So if your email campaign doesn’t perform as you expect, don’t immediately blame the copy, subject line or offer; take a look at who  you sent it to. That could be where the problem lies.

How To Commission a Freelance Copywriter

freelance copywriter

Every so often we all need a bit of help – especially with the stuff we find mundane.

At times its easier to get someone else in so our time can be freed up to do something more productive.

That is especially true for sales writing.

Many businesses simply don’t have the time to sit down and create amazing copy that will wow their readers and have them opening their wallets. So the most sensible option is to hire a freelance copywriter.

Your copywriter is probably sourced through Google or by recommendation. But however you find them, its what you do next that’s important.

We are creative but not miracle workers

Being a writer means being creative, but even copywriters have their limitations.

Our job is to produce copy for your marketing materials (web copy, brochures, emails, newsletters, white papers, eBooks, travel guides…) that sells. It has to be eye-catching, captivating, powerful and interesting.

If it is for search engine optimisation, it also has to appeal to the search engine spiders.

The one thing we can’t do is magic powerful copy out of thin air.

Don’t make your briefs too brief

To be able to write great copy, your copywriter will need a great brief – and that means information. Even though you’ve hired them to write, you still have to do some work.

To say “I import handbags and I need you to write my web copy.” isn’t really enough. What are the bags? What styles do they come in? Are they designer? What are they made of? What makes them different to other handbags?

Your copywriter needs as much background information as possible on your product to be able to put together your copy. You’ll need to be able to answer questions such as:

  • What is the objective of this project?
  • Who is the audience?
  • Do you have any in-house styles they must adhere to?
  • What is the product/service? (Features, benefits, prices etc.)
  • What is the offer? (Discounts, deadlines, guarantees etc.)
  • What are the objections stopping people buying your product?
  • What is the call to action? (What do you want the reader to do? Call, email, order etc.)
  • What media is the copy for? If web copy what keywords should be used?
  • What information is available about this product?
  • Who are your main competitors?

Give them everything you can think of. Write down your ideas – don’t worry about presentation and grammar, just let it flow as all information is useful when it comes to constructing strong sales copy.

Not giving them this information is rather like asking someone to build your dream house without any plans, ideas of location or style – you simply won’t get what you want.

Don’t leave it to the last minute

Most companies will have their marketing strategies planned out in advance, so don’t leave it until the eleventh hour to find and commission your copywriter.

Gathering information takes time, crafting it into strong sales copy takes time, proofreading and editing takes time.

Remember your copywriter also has a life. Why should they be forced to work late into the evenings or weekends to get your project finished because you didn’t leave enough time.

Why am I telling you this?

Simply because there have been occasions when I’ve been expected to conjure great copy out of thin air.

Because I’ve been asked to produce copy within only a few hours.

Because people have moaned when I’ve asked for information – “but you’re a writer!”

Because if you know how copywriters like to work, projects will run much smoother.

If you want great quality copywriting give information, give plenty of time and give generously!