Entries from December 2011 ↓

Does my Blog Look Big in This?

Oh yes, ‘wearing’ your blog is this season’s latest trend.

No, I haven’t completely lost it; you really can ‘wear’ your blog (in a manner of speaking).

People read blogs because:

•    They want to learn something
•    They enjoy reading people’s opinions
•    They are personal

That last one is the key – they are personal. Your posts are written by you, from the heart and full of personality.

So, if no one is reading your blog posts, that could mean there’s not enough of you in them.

Getting personal

Even if you don’t realise it, your readers are building a relationship with you.

They know a lot about you from your writing. The style you use, your opinions and subject matter all help them build up a picture of what you’re like. And if they like what they see, they’ll keep coming back.

To some, that might sound like a scary stalker kind of scenario, but your readers are based all over the world and read your stuff because they like it – simple.

If you are lacking in readers, or losing them, you’ve got to boost the connection you have with them. So squeeze yourself into you each and every post and flirt with them a little.

How to add personality to your posts

Try these out for size:

1. Write orally

Write as you speak.

As you compose your post, imagine yourself chatting to a friend over coffee and write in that style. This openness will appeal to your readers and create a very accessible and readable style.

2. Add a bio

By simply adding a biography to each post, or an ‘About’ page to your website will show your readers who you are and what you do. Adding a picture is always a nice touch.

3. Respond

If your readers like your stuff enough to comment on it, don’t ignore them, reply to them. This will encourage a two way conversation and may even boost the number of comments you get.

4. Be personal

Throw a few different types of posts into the mix. As well as your informative stuff, chuck in a few personal stories and experiences, may be even a rant or two. This will really connect with your readers and show them the real person behind the blog.

It’s also a great idea to be contactable – whether by email or social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) – your readers will know you’re a real person who is also interested in them.

Over to you

What do you do to encourage readers to your blog?

Have you found a particular style that works for you?

Leave a comment below – it’s good to share.

Sally Ormond – Copywriter, blogger and lover of rum toffees


Giving Your Message the ‘X Factor’

copywriting x factorHow to make your copy stand out

We are surrounded by marketing messages every day.

You can’t hide from them. Whether it’s the TV, magazines, radio, buses, taxis, billboards etc. everywhere you look, everywhere you go, someone is trying to sell you something.

So, if you’re one of those companies, how do you get your message to stand out from everyone else’s?

Well, it has a lot to do with your information presentation.

As a copywriter, my focus is always on the message, but I am well aware that colour, graphics and layout play a big part in the way an advert or message is received (even though, ultimately, it’s the words that will do the convincing and selling).

When it comes down to it, if you want your message to be seen, think about how it is presented.

Information presentation

There are 5 very simple things you can do to make sure your message isn’t ignored. I’m sure there are other things too (if you can think of any, leave a comment and share them with us), but these are my top 5.

1. Verb

Don’t worry, I’m not about to launch into a grammar lesson. But starting your heading with a verb instead of a noun will help it pack more of a punch.

A verb is a ‘doing word’ making it active, and if it’s talking about something you like doing, you’ll be more inclined to read on.

2. Short and sweet

Nope, I’m not about to dive in to the ‘long copy verses short copy’ argument. In this case, short and sweet refers to your sentence structure. Keeping them short will aid readability. They get across ideas succinctly. They keep your reader interested.

3. Another short and sweet

Your paragraphs should also be – you guessed it – short and sweet.

A page with lots of white space and short chunks of text will look far more attractive than a page with solid text.

Psychologically, it makes the reader think the information will be easy to read.

4. Loud

Once you’ve written your copy, do you ever read it out loud?

If you don’t, you should. Reading out loud will give you a whole new perspective on it. Plus, it will help you spot areas that sound clumsy or repetitive.

5. Check-list

After writing and refining your copy, check to make sure it is:

•    Concise (think short sentences and paragraphs)
•    Informative (and relevant)
•    Attractive (lots of white space, readable font etc.)

If you can tick all 3, you’re well on your way to making your message stand out from the crowd.

Over to you

Can you think of any other ways to make sure your message stands out?

Leave a comment below and share them.

Copywriting Pain Points and Therapy

Now, tell me where it hurts?copywriting pain points

OK, so I’m not a doctor – actually, with my chronic needle and hospital phobia that was never going to be a career suited to me.

But, as a copywriter, I can use my skills and experience to help your customers overcome their difficulties in life by convincing them your product or service is the panacea they’ve been looking for.

Finding their pain point and lancing it (urgh, that’s just conjured up an awful mental image) is all it takes to get a sale.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing for a B2B or B2C market, businesses and consumers all have problems they want solving.

Pain equals motivation

It’s true, pain is a great motivator. After all, if you burn your hand on an iron, you’ll be swiftly motivated to remove your hand to stop the physical pain you’re feeling.

It’s the same in sales. Let’s take the business market as an example. There are all sorts of pain points here:

• Inadvertently breaking rules
• Being rejected
• Having your secrets stolen by a disgruntled employee
• Losing money

Businesses want to stop these things from happening, therefore they are strong motivators.

Getting the balance right

If your copy over states or concentrates too much on these pain points, you’re going to depress your reader and they’ll probably just go and find a dark corner to hide in.

But if you get the balance right, they’ll snap your hand off because they know you’re the ‘special one’ they’ve been looking for; you’re the one that’s going to make everything OK.

A great way to start is with a headline like…

Have you ever wished that….

This is a gentle lead in and shows them that you understand the problem (pain point) they are experiencing. This empathy will show that you’re a company that cares and one that wants to help.

Then, as you get into the real meat of your copy, you can continue with…

Well, now you can with our …..

So within a few seconds you’ve not only shown you understand their issues by highlighting the problem they’re facing, you’ve also immediately shown how you can make that problem disappear.

That’s pretty powerful stuff.

Over to you

Identifying the pain is half the battle. How have you managed that in the past?

Customer Reassurance – Overcoming ‘What if…’ Syndrome

Encouraging online salesIf your business sells goods online, your ‘shopping experience’ must be exceptional.


Well, for many people, shopping online is still dabbling in the unknown. If they buy something from a High Street store, they can speak with staff, see the product, pay for it and take it away there and then.

But shopping online is a completely different experience:

•    There is no one to ask questions of immediately
•    The can see a picture of the product but not the real thing
•    They can’t touch the product
•    Although they can pay for it, they have to wait for it to be delivered

Effectively, they are giving a faceless company their hard earned cash for something they’ve not yet received.

It’s hardly surprising so many online transactions are never completed.

Don’t lose sales through ‘what if…’ syndrome

What do I mean?

•    What if I can’t get back to the webpage I want if I click this link?
•    What if I don’t like the product when it arrives?
•    What if the company goes bust?
•    What if they sell my details on to another company?

These are just a few of the ‘what ifs…’ that could be flying through your customers’ heads right now.

So how can you alleviate their fears?

How can you make them feel safe while shopping with you?

Give reassurance every step of the way

The key is to reassure them at every stage of the buying process – from the moment they land on your website, right through to their sale confirmation email.

1. Testimonials

An old one, but a good one. Showing real customer testimonials on your website will help reassure your customers. If they can see other people were satisfied with your products and service, they are more likely to buy.

If you don’t have any, get some. Ask past customers to rate your service.

2. Privacy policy

People are, quite rightly, concerned about the possibility of their details being passed on to third parties.

Reassure them this won’t happen by telling them and providing a prominent link to your privacy policy.

3. Simple ordering

If you want someone to buy from you, your ordering process must be simple. And I don’t just mean so you can understand it.

People of all IT abilities are going to be potential customers, so when you design your ordering process, get your Aunt or other member of the family (non-tech savvy) to do a dry run for you. This ‘test drive’ will help you iron out any ambiguities.

4. Reputable payment

People don’t like to input their sensitive information online, such as bank details and card numbers. Give reassurance by only using reputable payment partners.

5. Guarantee

Everyone loves a guarantee, especially the ‘100% of your money back, no questions asked’ type. It shows your commitment to your customers and your faith in your products.

6. Let them know where you are

There’s nothing more off putting than seeing a website without an address.

If you are genuine, surely there’s no reason to hide your postal address.

7. Click points

All over your website there’ll be various ‘click’ points for navigation. Do a full review of them (call in your Aunt again) and make sure they are all clear. If not, add a line of text to explain what your customer needs to do.

8. Awards

If you have won awards for customer service or for your products, display them on your website. Sight of those will provide an extra layer of confidence for your customers, making them more likely to buy.

There you go, 8 very simple ways you can avoid the ‘what if…’ syndrome.

Over to you

Can you think of anymore? If so, leave a comment below.

Preparing for Meetings – Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome

Regardless of what business you’re in, conducting a meeting is bound to be part of your marketing process.

Whether you are meeting a new client, pitching an idea to a new investor, or conducting an interview, you will be on your own, selling your business.

The vast majority of people fall into one of two camps in these situations:

  • They thrive on it and relish the challenge, or
  • They’d much rather find a dark cupboard somewhere and hide

If you are in the second group, how can you overcome your nerves?

You could try hypnotism, or you could just act.

Imposter Syndrome

No, I haven’t just made that up. It’s something I was first introduced to at a course I recently attended run by Andy Maslen:

Imposter syndrome…is a psychological phenomenon in which competent people find it impossible to believe in their own competence.

Although anyone can experience it, it’s especially true of women.

Picture this – you’re in a meeting, you’re answering questions competently, your audience is nodding in an encouraging way, they’re sold on what you’re telling  them and yet, deep down, you feel like a fraud, just waiting for them to see through you.


If you have those feelings, there’s one sure fire way of getting over them (or at least keeping them under control)…

And the winner is…

It’s time for your Academy Award winning performance.

That’s right – if you act in a confident manner, you’ll come across as being confident. Deliver your pitch with conviction and you’ll be believed.

But if you stand there dithering, fidgeting and stumbling, no one is going to take you seriously.

So, what can you do to create an air of confidence?

  • Prepare for your meeting, don’t try to wing it
  • Practice your pitch in front of the mirror
  • Dress to impress
  • Visualise a successful presentation or outcome
  • Don’t make it up  – if you’re not sure or don’t have an immediate answer, tell them you’ll find our and get back to them (just make sure you do)

And then, give the performance of your life.

You can be confident if you stand tall and deliver your well-rehearsed pitch. No one in that room (apart from you) is going to know how many hours you’ve spent in front of the mirror practicing your delivery.

So, when the time comes for your next meeting, presentation or pitch, if you can’t be  yourself, be someone else – the confident, smart and competent you.

Over to you

Has this struck a chord with you?

How do you prepare for meetings?

Do you have any special rituals that get you through?

Leave a comment below and share them with us.