Entries from September 2013 ↓

What Value do you put on Good Copywriting?

As a professional copywriter I hoped I’d never have to write this post. the value of copywriting

Writing is part and parcel of every organisation’s marketing strategy. It’s fundamental to your web presence, print materials, social media activities, video marketing…you get the picture.

And yet, considering how important it is, many companies are still opting for the cheap option rather than seeking out the experienced, professional writer they need.

As a copywriter, I love working with clients that really value great copy. We both get a real buzz from the collaborative process and, from my perspective, I get to work with someone who understands the importance of every word I use.

But too many companies shop for a writer on price alone, seduced by the “I’ll write a page of web copy for £10”  – is that really the value you’d place on your company?

No really, by opting for the ‘cheap copywriters’ you’re devaluing your own company’s reputation, because poor copy will affect your bottom line.

Plastic surgery vs copywriting

For a moment, let’s imagine you’ve decided to get a nose job. You’ve never liked the one you have, so you start to shop around for a plastic surgeon.

What do you do?

a)    Get a load of quotes and go for the cheapest one?

b)   Go by reputation and recommendations?

If you opt for a) you’ll end up with a crooked nose that’s ten times worse than your natural one. People stare at you and then walk on by looking the other way hoping you won’t engage them in conversation.

But, if you opt for b) you’ll end up with a work of art that people will compliment you on. You’ll instantly become more popular and successful with people beating down your door just to be seen out with you.

The same happens if you apply those options to your copywriting.

Going for a) (i.e. the cheapest quote) will lead to sub standard copy that, at the very least, won’t sell a bean and could even damage your reputation. Plus, you’ll end up having to hire another copywriter to re-write it because it’s not selling.

But, being sensible and going for option b) will mean you’ll get fantastic copy that resonates with your readers, draws them in and sells your products or services. Plus, because you’re using well written, engaging copy, your reputation will be enhanced.

Are you still going to opt for the cheapest writer?

The first impression many people will have of your company is going to be in writing: your website, brochures, newsletter, email, case study etc. Can you really run the risk of falling at the first hurdle?

How to find the right copywriter

When you look for your next copywriter, don’t go by cost alone:

  • Call a few up, have a chat and find out what they can do for you
  •  Ask who they’ve written for
  •  Get them to send you some examples of their work

Most good writers will work to fixed fees rather than hourly rates (and certainly not a per word rate) and they’ll need a detailed brief before they can quote you, but they may be able to offer a ball park figure to give you an idea of costs.

The actual cost should be your last consideration because your company’s reputation is at stake.

Professional copywriting isn’t cheap, but it is the best way to promote your business to your marketplace. It will enhance your reputation, engage your customers and persuade them to buy.


Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

Stories Sell – Fact

Facts get forgotten, whereas stories get repeated.

That simple sentence is worth remembering next time you think about writing some web copy, brochure text, email content or case study.  copywriting and storytelling

But that doesn’t mean that a gripping story will necessarily result in a flood of new clients.

Yes, your prose may have moved them, it may have captivated them and they may have enjoyed your story. But your strategy didn’t work because they didn’t buy, get in touch or sign up.

Using storytelling to influence others in your copy isn’t as easy as it sounds. If you want to influence people and get them to take an action, there are a few things you must get right.


If you’re going to use a story, make sure it’s relevant to your goal.

If not, yes, your reader will get a great story, but they won’t ‘get’ what it has to do with your company or the action that you’re asking them to take at the end.

What’s more, if you find yourself having to explain the tenuous link at the end, it’s not right. It should be obvious from the outset why you’re telling it.

There must be an instant connection between your story and your company.


You’ve probably read enough novels over the years to know there are some seriously boring stories out there.

To capture your reader’s imagination and to get them to take an action, your story must grab them from the off. That means making sure all the elements of a good yarn are there: a beginning, a conflict, climax and the end.

What’s important?

Paying attention to every word you write will help you strengthen your story. There’s no room for sentiment it the world of marketing, so when reading through each paragraph ask yourself whether it contributes anything to the overall message – if the answer is ‘no’ cut it.

You have to be brutal to be effective.

The final thing to think about is the length of your story. Too short and you may miss the point, too long and your audience may doze off. As a guide, make sure your story takes up no more than half of your copy. Any more than that and it can begin to dilute the effectiveness of your message.

Do you use storytelling?

If so, how have you used it and what has the effect been?

Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

 Image courtesy of Simon Howden/FreeDigitalPhotos

Managers Should Not Be Allowed to Write Marketing Materials

Harsh? Managers can't write marketing materials


Want to know why? Corporate speak.

Something happens when you reach the upper echelons of management; your language morphs into an incomprehensible drivel, creating disturbing sound bites and memos a bit like this one:

“Going forward, all stakeholders in National Memo Day will be tasked to proactively think outside the box and produce a synergistic vision for growing the impact of this day on the national consciousness. This is a ground-breaking chance to get behind this concept 120% and to idea-shower strategies for leveraging our assets and incentivize dynamic solutions in order to evolve a set of win-win deliverables to add value to this high-altitude occasion.”


They become obsessed with metrics, synergy, going forward, pushing the envelope, paradigm shifts, leveraging, siloes, transitioning and covering all bases whilst on a level playing field.


It doesn’t make you sound important, it doesn’t make you sound professional; it’s just annoying and hides the real meaning of what you want to say.

If you have something to say, say it in plain, good old-fashioned English.

Managers can’t help themselves and will try to shoehorn as many of the above terms into their brochures, web copy and emails as possible (not to mention their reports, white papers and case studies). It’s as if they think they have to use them to justify their pay grade.

But, you know what? Your customers (i.e. the people who will be reading this stuff) don’t want to be faced with incomprehensible industry gobbledegook. They want a clear message written in simple language.

It comes down to how much value you place on your customers.

Offer them marketing materials written in-house that are stuffed full of corporate speak and they’ll walk away.

Offer them poorly translated brochures from your parent company (because they insist they’re fine for your market even though you know they aren’t) they’ll walk away.

But, offer them well written materials that speak in plain English, that address them directly and concentrate on the benefits your product or service offers and they’ll be putty in your hands.

A good, experienced copywriter will NEVER litter their copy with corporate jargon.


Because they value your customers and they know what they want.

That’s why you should never allow management anywhere near your marketing materials.

Rant over. Thank you for listening.


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos


182 Greatest Copywriters and the Internet Age

I don’t often use this blog to blow my own trumpet, so I thought it was about time that I did.

Monday mornings aren’t always the best time of the week, but a recent one was made much sweeter by a notification.

Joseph Bushnell had compiled a list of what he considered to be the 182 Greatest Copywriters and Copywriting Resources of the Internet Age.

In his own words:

Here is my list of the best copywriters and copywriting resources. If you’re an aspiring copywriter, these are the people you should be following, learning and swiping from

Here are the 3 main criteria for the people/resources you’ll find on this list…

1. They are specialized copywriters…

There are many marketers who are great copywriters, the list of marketers who can write good copy would be an absolutely huge list (and this list is big enough as it is). So I’ve narrowed it down to those who, for the most part, specialize in copy and conversion optimization. Perhaps they are for hire as a copywriter, have a blog about copywriting, have a newsletter about copywriting, have written a book about copywriting, have a specific course about copywriting, etc. They either write copy for a living or they teach it

2. These are modern day copywriters…

The list of great copywriters over the last 100 years would also make for a very big list. So the people on this list are modern day copywriters. Most are still alive but not all of them but their impact on the copywriting world was recent. I’ve decided to list copywriters making an impact since the year 2000 onwards (although many have been making an impact long before the year 2000 as well). I guess you could say this is a list of the best copywriters of the internet era.

Please don’t come at me with “What about Schwartz, Caples and Hopkins?!” Those guys were great, the pioneers of copy but they aren’t on this list. I’ll probably make a separate list of the old school copywriters in the future

3. They have taught me something useful…

This is my personal list. No special panel or committee decided these names, it’s my opinion. The only qualification is that they have impressed me and I have learned something from them  that I think was of value. I have been lucky enough to interview many of these great copywriters so I’ve learned from many of them one on one. I’ve also studied their books, blogs, courses and studied/swiped their copy and I find them worthy of being on the list

I know I will be missing people out. It’s not personal, it just means I somehow didn’t hear of them or I didn’t get a chance to study any of their work yet.

Also a lot of great copywriters don’t tout themselves as teachers but just stay quietly hidden, writing copy and the rest of the world don’t know about them. These best kept secrets may be great copywriters but I can’t list them if I don’t know who they are.

So if you should be on this list or you know someone who should be on this list, leave a comment below as to where I can find out more. If I think they are good, I’ll add them to the list

In no particular order, here is my big, fat list of the best copywriters and their materials…

And yes, he very kindly added little old me to his list.

Want to see who else is on there?

Follow this link to find out who his 182 Greatest Copywriters are.

If you want to know a bit more about me, here’s my latest video (feel free to share):

How to Boost The Value of Your Content

Organic search and search engine optimisation are a huge part of your marketing strategy.  outward links

But how can you increase the perceived value of the content you’re producing for your readers?

Before we answer that, answer this question:

Why do you produce content?

Your answer is probably to create and attract links to your website.

Granted, that’s a big part of content generation, but do you also link away from your blog?

Before you recoil in horror, visualising your page rank slowly diminishing, outward links are important and this is why.

Useful resource

Outward links will help your readers’ understanding.

If you’re writing about a complex topic, linking out to another source that elaborates on what you’ve said will enhance your reader’s experience. Showing you are aware of the presence of other research will also enhance your reputation – you win, they win, everyone wins.

Top 10

Readers love top 10 (or how ever many examples you can come up with) resource or product lists.

It offers them a comparison of products/information that they haven’t had to research, saving them a lot of time. But on top of that, they are a great way to support your content and a solid relationship-builder with other bloggers and websites.

Crediting other research

Whatever you write, it’s important to back it up with facts and research. This will add weight and authority to your own work, increasing its value to the readers.

Plus, it shows you have read around the subject adding credibility to you as a writer.

Quotes and interviews

Extra kudos can be gained from using quotes and interviews with subject matter experts within your writing.

Using a well-known name within a particular industry will not only boost credibility, it will also attract readers, especially those that follow the expert. Plus, they may want to link to your article, so whilst you’re linking out to them, they may well link back to you.


A lot of companies are investing in colourful infographics and other graphical elements to illustrate complex subjects.

Linking out to these will boost the understanding of your readers and present them with new and exciting information formats.

Of course, if you use another company’s work in this way it’s essential you credit the original source.

Good for SEO

You’ve probably guessed by now that all of this outward linking is good for your SEO.

Granted, inward links are still more valuable, but linking out to quality sources of information will enhance your own standing.

SEO isn’t just about attracting links to your website. All the content you produce has to be written for the user in mind. Therefore, it should always enhance their experience and ‘go that extra mile’.

By linking out to other sources, you’re not only showing your depth of knowledge, you’re also enhancing the impact you have on your reader. So don’t be afraid to link out.


Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos