Entries from December 2013 ↓

11 Reasons Why Lists Give Your Copywriting More Clout

In any form of copywriting, whether it’s online or off line, lists are incredibly powerful.

And here’s why:

  1. People love lists (go on, admit it, you write them all the time)
  2. Numbers and bullets produce easy to read chunks of information
  3. They make an impact on the page or screen (help your benefits stand out)
  4. Adding numbers to your headline offers a promise to your readers that they won’t be able to resist
  5. Bullet points are easy to scan so you can get information quickly
  6. Bullets and numbered list are more efficient to read
  7. People remember numbers
  8. Obscure numbers (like the one in this heading) catch the reader’s attention
  9. A list grabs the attention of the reader
  10. They add interest to a page by breaking up text
  11. I couldn’t think of another one, but wanted a list of 11 rather than 10

I’m sure you can probably think of even more reasons why you should include lists in your copy.

But for me, their main benefits are that the break up text, add interest to a page and are a great way of highlighting benefits.

Short and sweet today, but there’s nothing else that needs to be said.



Getting ‘PLUS’ Points From Your Customers

Gemma ThompsonAbout the author: Gemma Thompson is the author of the best-selling “The British Book of Social Media Marketing“. She is full time social media consultant and loves helping businesses grow. When she’s not working,   she can be found watching Dr Who with her teenage daughter, or indulging in a spot of inept D.I.Y (but no, she still hasn’t managed to make her house bigger on the inside than on the outside).


No, we’re not talking about those wonderful little +1 buttons that Google has splashed all over the internet. As great as they undoubtedly are, let’s talk about a far bigger ‘PLUS’.

‘PLUS’ is an acronym for ‘People like us’. Although this can be read in two different ways, and these days the emphasis always seems to be on getting our customers to ‘like’ us, it always used to be used in marketing to describe our customers as being like ourselves, meaning the emphasis was on the ‘us’.

Now, I’m a social media girl so I love it when my clients’ customers ‘like’ their business pages! But getting people to like you becomes a whole lot easier if you empathise with them, so today let’s go back to the old-fashioned ways and talk about that. After all, social media is just a new way to do the same old thing, and that is to get to know each other!

Although almost everybody in the world has the same basic hopes and dreams (to love and be loved, to live a better lifestyle than our parents and to make sure our kids have it even better than us), our craving for kinship is something ingrained within us and geographical ties are often more important than experiences or point of view.

When I was younger I spent a lot of time travelling and it never ceased to amaze me just how hard we try to find things in common with people we meet on the other side of the world and how those kinship ties can be stronger or weaker depending on such things as where we grew up.

Even when we knew none of the same people the fact that someone else was from our home town, county or region was enough to produce excited squeaks of recognition.

All nations have social codes, characteristics and habits that are deeply ingrained in us and damnably difficult for us to break. The Italians are known as passionate, Germans are organised and the French are nonchalant. When it comes to marketing our businesses these can have a huge impact; it’s important that our brand and communications are not only honest representations of us and our businesses, but also that they do not offend cultural sensibilities.

For us Brits humour is one of our biggest personality traits and we are rightly proud of it. We also talk about the weather… a lot!

Of course there is a lot more to us than that and there are plenty of personality variations too, but the more we get to know our customers and talk to them about our similarities, and the more comfortable they will feel talking to (and therefore buying from) people like us.

What do you think?

Do you want more people like you buying from you? I’m always interested in hearing your views, experiences and questions so please comment or get in touch.


How to Create Engaging Website Copy

Your website copy must speak to your visitors.

It must engage and inform them, give them something to take away with them.

Google wants high quality writing, that’s natural and that resonates with the reader.

How many times have you read or been told that?

You know Google’s constantly changing, trying to improve the experience for searchers, but how can you be sure your web copy engages?

Engaging website copy

Is it hard to write engaging copy?

Hard is probably the wrong word to use. It’s more to do with standing outside of your business to understand what your customers want to know.

Too many people, when writing their web copy, focus on their business. They fill their web pages with what they offer, the features of their products and services and details about their company.

Believe it or not, that isn’t what your reader wants to know. They want to know what you are going to do for them and how it will help them. It all comes down to benefits – your shoes may well come in an array of colours and sizes and be handmade, but it’s the air of sophistication they conjure and superb comfort for all-day wear that the reader wants to know about.

When writing about your benefits, imagine yourself stood in front of your customer. This will help you develop a more informal conversational style that will really resonate with your reader. They want to feel as though you are talking to them directly when they read your site, because that gives them the personal connection that’s missing from online shopping.

When browsing the web, there’s no eye contact or gestures to help you get your point across, but conversational, benefits laden copy will help over come that.

Constant engagement

You see, there’s no great mystery behind how to write engaging copy, it just takes a lot of practice.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that once you’ve written your web pages you can sit back and relax.

The other thing Google’s looking for is fresh content. That means adding blogs and articles to your website – again focusing on high quality writing.

Use the same informal, conversational style to make your work readable and keep to your niche. You’re an expert, so use that knowledge to help your readers. Make sure every post offers some new information, or a tip they can take away and use.

If your content is found to be useful, the reader is more likely to share it (make sure you have your social sharing buttons clearly visible on your site), boosting your web presence and so attracting more traffic to your website.

So in summary, to create engaging web copy you must:

  • Focus on the needs of your readers
  • Show them the benefits your product/service offer
  • Write in an informal, conversational style
  • Avoid using technical language and jargon
  • Regularly update your website with fresh content in the form of blogs and articles
  • Encourage social sharing

Hopefully, this has shown that you don’t have to a copywriter to be able to write engaging copy. But it does take practice.


LinkedIn Recommendations & Endorsements

LinkedIn is the professional social networking platform.

You already know how important it is to make the most of your LinkedIn profile and that you should only accept connection requests from people you know, but what about asking for recommendations?

Personally, I find it a great platform to gather recommendations that I can also use as testimonials on my website. But what do you do if, when you receive a recommendation, you’re asked to provide one in return.

I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine?

It’s mind-boggling – the whole point of a recommendation is to give feedback about the service you received. Yes, you do get the option to provide a recommendation in return when you get one, but what if you haven’t experienced their service, why write one?

It makes a mockery of the whole system.

The same way as when you ask for a recommendation from someone just because you know them or have met them once or twice. What do you expect them to write?

“I met Joe at last week’s networking meeting. Seemed like an OK bloke.”

It’s pointless.

Recommendations exist so potential clients can read how your service helped others

But if you do feel duty bound to return the favour, how about an endorsement?

Endorsing skills

Isn’t it great when that email lands in your inbox telling you someone has endorsed one of your skills on LinkedIn?

Admittedly, now and then endorsements come through for skills you don’t have (or actively use as part of your business) and even you can even receive them from people you’ve never worked with. But on the whole, they are a good way to instantly see how others perceive a particular person’s abilities.

So, if you want to return the favour and interact with your contacts on LinkedIn, why don’t you give endorsements too?

Being on LinkedIn isn’t about sitting back and waiting for people to connect to you or tell you how marvellous you are.  It’s a two-way street where you need to be active to be found.

Give endorsements, contribute to group discussions and offer great information – show yourself as someone who is approachable, helpful, knowledgeable and, well, personable.

You only get out of LinkedIn what you put in, so if you’re not prepared to invest a bit of time to help others, don’t expect to get much in return.


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

Foursquare – Useful Business Tool or Waste of Time?

According to Foursquare, their app:   Delete foursquare

…helps you and your friends make the most of where you are.

If you’re a business:

Foursquare can provide you with tools to engage with your customers and fans.

Apparently, according to their website there are over 40 million people worldwide using the platform. But now there’s one less.

Today, I deleted my Foursquare account.

Why I deleted my Foursquare account

I signed up to the app a few years ago. It was the new kid on the block and loads of my business pals were using it, so I thought why not?

For a while it was quite fun; I’d check-in when I arrived at meetings or when I was having a coffee, reading recommendations from fellow users and gaining the occasional Mayor badge.

I can’t say it was ever useful for business, but it was a nice way to stay connected with close-by colleagues.

As time went by I began to think ‘what’s the point’ and used the app less and less.

But then this morning I received an email that made my mind up once and for all – it was time to say farewell to Foursquare.

As you know, when you visit a location you can check in earning yourself various badges as you do so. They don’t mean anything earth shattering, they aren’t going to make you famous and they most certainly aren’t going to make you rich. Yet, it would appear there are people out there who are dead set on gathering as many Mayor-ships as they can, regardless of whether they’ve been to the locations or not.

Surely not! I hear you cry.

Well, today’s email is evidence of that practice.

I would post an image of it here, but I’m not into naming and shaming. It announced that I’d been ousted as Mayor of Briar Copywriting.

Sour grapes on my part? Nope, and this is why.

  1. Briar Copywriting is my business and office
  2. I work alone and meet clients at their premises
  3. It is my home office
  4. I’m the only one who works there
  5. The guy who ousted me as Mayor isn’t even a friend on Foursquare
  6. He’s never even been to the office
  7. I have no idea who he is!

So, bearing all that in mind, this is a guy who sits at his desk (on his sofa, or wherever) claiming to be visiting places me most clearly is not.


How sad is that?

Why would you claim to be going somewhere that you’ve never visited before? Just so you can gain a worthless, virtual Mayor-ship?

For me, this just illustrates the pointlessness of Foursquare.

Tell me about your experience

What’s your experience been like?

Have you found it useful?

I’d really love to hear from you if you have.

Leave a comment, good or bad, about your feelings for this platform.

If you were connected to me on Foursquare, apologies for my abrupt departure, but now you know why.


 Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos