Entries from May 2013 ↓

How Online Retailers Can Sell More

Online retailers have it tough.

Their High Street counterparts have the benefit of being able to display their wares for all to see and a small army of sales staff to encourage people to buy and to answer any questions.

All the online retailer has is a website, a few pictures and some persuasive words.

One of the key elements in the sales process is trust.

Again the High Street retailer has the advantage of face-to-face contact, the products being available to see (try and touch) and the ability to talk to the customer to allay any buying objections they may have.

But it’s not all doom and gloom for the online shop because there are several things they can do to garner trust.

1. Useful

If you can’t talk directly to your customers it’s essential you offer them as much information as possible to help them make their buying decision.

Offering ratings, reviews, detailed product descriptions and daily deals will help develop a trusting relationship.

A great example of this in action is Amazon.

2. Secure

Security (or rather lack of) is one of the key factors that will put people off buying on line, which is why you must show your potential customers that your website’s security is second to none.

If possible use an https:// domain and only offer reputable payment methods such as PayPal, MasterCard etc.

Also a no quibble money back guarantee is also a deal winner.

3. Privacy

No one wants their details passed on to a third party so make sure you put potential customers’ minds at rest by publicly showing:

  • Your cookies policy
  • That you won’t pass their details onto a third party
  • You only ask a minimum number of questions to complete a purchase

4. Customise

This one won’t always be possible, but if you can customise your service to suit your customer’s needs. Not everyone is going to have the same needs, so being as flexible as possible will show you as a company that puts its customers first.

5. Reputation

Trust also comes from having a good reputation. Using your social media channels as a way of promoting your great customer service is the perfect way to show you are a company to be trusted.

Also make sure you make it easy for people to get in touch with an email address, phone number and postal address clearly shown on your website.

As you can see, there are a number of ways the online retailer can enhance its reputation.


Sally Ormond – Copywriter, MD at Briar Copywriting and avid online shopper

White Papers Aren’t Just For the Big Boys

Why you shouldn’t call them White PapersWhite Paperd

Most people associate White Papers with large corporations that do all sorts of complex things.

The name has connotations of prestige, highbrow concepts and power, but that doesn’t mean they are reserved for the companies that call glistening city tower blocks home.

White Papers are marketing tools that are used to help potential customers resolve challenges they are facing. Of course the solution they offer will just happen to be a product or service offered by the company that produced the White Paper – fancy that.

Whether you write your White Paper in house or hire in the services of a professional copywriter or editor to help you, there are several things it must do (or in some cases, must not do).

1. Information

The whole premise of the humble White Paper is to provide the information your potential customers need. So if you’re struggling to think of something to write about as yourself:

  • What problems are your customers facing?
  • Are these things you can help them with?
  • What advice can you give that will help them?

Once you have the answers to these questions you can start planning your document.

2. No sales

As tempting as it may be your White Paper is not and should not be a thinly veiled advert.

The main element in any sales process is trust. When face to face its easy to get a sense of whether you trust someone or not, but in an online world it’s not so easy. To convince the reader they can trust you, it’s essential that you offer advice and information. Any whiff of sales and they’ll be off so don’t blow it.

3. Conversation

More often than not White Papers are written in over complicated English with loads of big words, complex jargon and ridiculously convoluted sentences.

Write yours in a conversational style that speaks the language of your reader. Break it up into short paragraphs with plenty of sub headings to give an outline of what it covers.

Some of you are probably frowning as you are reading this, but a conversational style is far more effective than formal corporate speak because it generates a friendly approach that makes you come across as being genuine, approachable and helpful.

4. Proof

If you are making claims it’s essential you back them up with relevant facts and figures from reliable sources (that should also be cited within the document).

A White Paper without substantiating evidence will come across as woolly.

5. Good looking

Getting a professional designer on board is as important as a professional writer. Your finished document has to look the bee’s knees so make sure you don’t fall at the final hurdle by using a homemade PowerPoint cover with clip art images.

6. Title

As with everything a catchy title is essential and another tip is to ditch the name ‘White Paper’. Go for something that is more likely to appeal to your readers such as ‘A Special Report on…’

7. Promote

Finally, once it’s written and ready to go, promote it like fury.

Place it on your website, promote it through your social media channels, email marketing and newsletters. After all, if you don’t tell people about it, how are they going to know it exists?

White Papers – or whatever you want to call yours – can help any business regardless of size or sector.

Have you used them successfully in your business?

If so, leave a comment below and tell us how and why you used one.



Questions You Should Ask Before Blogging

Are you fed up hearing about the wonders of blogging?

Yes, we all know that it boosts your credibility, visibility and drives traffic to your website, but it’s such hard work constantly coming up with new ideas.

And sometimes it feels as though you’re writing for an empty room because no one shares or comments on your posts.

So what’s the point?

The point is the credibility, visibility and traffic thing mentioned earlier. And if you find you’re not getting any shares or comments it says more about your blog posts than your lack of audience.

Every post you write has to be aimed at your readers and that means writing stuff they want to read about, which probably isn’t going to be what a God awful journey into work you had.

So before you start typing, think carefully about what you’re writing and ask yourself these questions:

1. Does it target my audience?

Every blogger has a niche; their area of expertise. Because every blogger is an expert in their field people are drawn to them to learn and get tips. So is the blog you’re writing related to that niche? Is it answering the questions your audience is asking?

2. Credibility

If you’re using statistics, facts and figures in your post, are you sure they’re right? There’s nothing worse than using incorrect information because some bright spark will notice and shout it from the rooftops, damaging your reputation.

Always check and double check before using them.

3. Is it unique?

Obviously your content will be (won’t it?), but I’m thinking more about the way you write. Even if you have a favourite blogger, the worse thing you can do is try to emulate them.

Your audience want something different, they want to get to know you and that means developing your own style, writing personality and voice. That way your work will stand out and be instantly recognisable.

4. Useful?

Is it, really?

Think carefully about what you’re writing – is it worth reading? Will it add value to your audience? If they find it useful they’ll share it, but if it’s a load of pointless ramblings they may well look elsewhere for the information they need.

5. Simple

When writing your blog (or anything for that matter), always keep your language and sentence structure simple. People don’t want to be faced with complex words and dense swathes of text; they want something that’s quick and easy to read and that’s useful.

6. Shareability

This one really is a combination of everything that I’ve mentioned so far. If you tick all the boxes from 1 – 5 your content will be shared, widening your audience.

7. Your goals?

Although you are primarily writing for your audience, your blogs also have to achieve your own goals.

Whether that’s to drive traffic to your website, build links, promote your name and business etc.

So next time you write a blog post, bear these points in mind and make sure both you and your audience get something out of it.

Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd and blogger.

Using Pinterest to Promote Products

As a copywriter and general word nerd, Pinterest is one social media platform I’ve not played with. But never wanting to be kept in the dark, I’ve been looking round for information about how to use it.

Initially it was a personal platform and not something you could effectively use to promote your business. But at the end of last year, Pinterest launched its business pages so you can now use it commercially.

My search for expert advice took me to one of my favourite blogs, Social Media Examiner.

Their post ‘How to Use Pinterest to Promote Your Products’ offers tips on how to use Pinterest within your business’ marketing strategy. Not only that, but there is also a link to take you to a guide on how to convert your personal Pinterest profile to a commercial one.

So if you are a ‘Pinner’ or ate thinking about using it within your marketing strategy, take a look at their post for some ideas on how you can use it to promote your products.

It’s All About Your About Page

Whenever I do a copywriting project, I always look forward to writing the About Page. It’s the one opportunity for my client to let rip.

Every other page has to be totally focused on their customers, but the About Page is more about them (although still selling the benefits of working with them, which is a very fine balancing act).

As a copywriter my mantra (well, one of many to be fair) is ‘write for your reader’, but the About Page is the place to go wild – within reason.

Many companies don’t see it as being a vital page. OK, it probably won’t be one of the main landing pages, but it is essential to show potential customers who you are and what you’re like.

That’s why it shouldn’t be left to the last minute and hastily cobbled together, or be rigidly corporate stating “We have been in business for 30 years…”

Instead, it should be well thought out following these 5 pointers.

1. Show

An About Page that’s full of big words and adjectives that attempts to tell the reader how great you are isn’t fooling anyone. All it shows is that you have a thesaurus and you know how to use it.

It’s far more effective to show them how great you are by mentioning the awards you’ve received, any press coverage you’ve had and, if you have any major clients, a bit of shameless name-dropping.

2. Personality

Companies are quite wary of this one. They think that they have to show a corporate image to be successful. Well they don’t.

People buy from people (excuse the cliché) so show that you are human. Make your tone personable and friendly. Ditch the corporate speak for something more day to day that your reader will relate to.

3. Show off your people

If there’s one thing companies hate more than showing their personality, it’s showing their pictures (the people in the company that is, not the actual company itself, that wouldn’t work). But showing off your staff is a great way to make a personal connection with the reader.

They can see who they will be dealing with and, rather than just adding a professional bio about them, add details about their hobbies, dreams, likes and their Twitter handle.

This is a great way to open up your company to build trust.

4. SEO

Boo hiss, we’re all fed up with those initials, but they are important.

Even though it’s not a direct sales page, your About Page should still be optimised for keywords.

5. Don’t hide

Once you’ve actually gone to the trouble (or cost) of creating your About Page don’t hide it.

Make sure it’s clearly visible from your navigation bar so potential clients can find it and take a look at what you’re like. It could just swing things in your favour.

There you go, your About Page IS important so make the most of it and use it to show the human side of your business. Have some fun putting it together and get the real essence of your company out there for all to see.

Faceless corporate businesses are impersonal and unfriendly, especially when they are Internet based. You can’t go and meet every potential client, so your website must convey your personality and the About Page is the perfect vehicle for that.