Copywriting Lessons from Jonas Jonasson

I love reading.

When I’m not working, cycling or doing family stuff I usually have my nose firmly planted in a good book.

At the moment I’m reading “The Girl who Saved the Kind of Sweden” by Jonas Jonasson, his follow up to his best selling debut novel “The Hundred-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window and Disappeared.”

I love Jonas’s style.

His writing is simple, honest and unpretentious.

His characters are well rounded and have a depth that makes them come to life.

As for the story line, it simply draws you in and compels you to keep reading.

What has any of that got to do with copywriting?

Quite a lot as it happens.

Simple, honest, unpretentious

Jonas’s novel is a work of fiction. Your marketing copy must be fact, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring.

I’ve written many times in the past about companies demanding jargon-filled copy that’s crammed with hyperbole because they think it makes them look impressive.

The most impressive copy is that which simply tells the reader about the benefits they’ll enjoy.

You see the most effective copy is that which taps into the mind of the reader. They are your customers and therefore you should understand what makes them tick.

  • What challenges are they facing?
  • How will your product solve them?
  • How will you help them?

If you use simple language your message comes across clearly. Customers aren’t impressed by how many syllables you can cram on to a page, they just want straight-forward talking that’ll tell them what you’re going to do for them – i.e. what makes you different.

Now, in trying to uncover their USP, many companies claim all sorts of things, but never actually follow through. Granted, your promises might draw in customers, but once they realise they are empty they’ll head for the hills, but not before they’ve told all their friends on social media about you, potentially losing you even more custom.

If you’re going to make claims about great customer service, money back guarantees or incredible offers, make sure you follow through and don’t hide a myriad of terms and conditions in the small print.

In simple terms, always use this formula if you want your copy to be a success:

Simple language + benefits + honesty = compelling copy

  • Don’t try to be clever
  • Tell them how you’ll help them
  • Focus on your customers not your company
  • Be honest
  • Use simple language

 

Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd

 

 

Social Sharing Myths – Infographic

Do you think you understand the mechanics of social sharing?

Well, you probably don’t. A recent article in The Drum caught my eye as it contained a very interesting infographic that takes a look at the myths of social sharing.

Rather than boring you with a round-up of what the research by RadiumOne found, here’s the infographic – you may find it surprising.

Myths of social sharing

SMEs and Copywriting

Writing phobia

Do you have a fear of public speaking?

Perhaps you’re none to keen on clowns, buttons or flying.

Whatever your fear, you’re not alone.

The funny thing is that if your fear is one of the above you’re quite happy to talk about it. But there’s one fear many SMEs and small business owners don’t like to talk about – the fear of writing.

Are you bothered about how your customers see you?

Everything you write reflects on your business.

Your customers will get their first impression about your company from your website, emails, newsletters, press releases, articles…I could go on forever.

What impression are they getting?

The words you use will influence their opinion of you so it’s essential you get it right first time.

Feeling the pressure now?

One of the main objections SMEs have about using the services of a professional copywriter is that the writer doesn’t know their business as well as they do.

That’s true, but that’s not why you hire a copywriter.

You need one because they know what words to use to reach out to your customers, engage with them and convince them to buy from you.

Through their expertise your company looks professional, caring and focused on your customers’ needs.

What a copywriter can do for you

The main task that many companies are happy to outsource is the writing of their web copy. After all, not only does that have to engage the reader it also has to work well in the search engines, so you have to know what you’re doing to get the results you want.

But other than website copywriting, a copywriter will also create:

  • eBooks – to build your reputation
  • Press releases – to boost your exposure
  • Blogs posts and articles – to bolster your online marketing
  • Landing pages – to give weight to your offers
  • Sales letters – to make sure they don’t get binned
  • Ads and product descriptions – to make sure they sell the benefits
  • Taglines – to get you remembered
  • Emails – to boost your sales and build customer relationships
  • Brochures – to make sure they sell and not just inform
  • Speeches and presentations – to drive your message home
  • Profiles and bios – to tell the world what you do and how you can help
  • Video scripts – to engage your audience
  • Re-purposing content – to reach all your customers
  • SEO copy – to boost your visibility in the search results
  • How to guides and tutorials – to help your customers’ understanding

How many of those could you do with to strengthen your marketing efforts?

The greatest strength you have is to know your weaknesses. Your business and your customers deserve the best. Finding a copywriter that you can work with will result in an exponential growth of your business and happy customers that will return time and time again (and bring their friends).

Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd

 

This is Why Your Brochure Tanked

Is there really a place for brochures in today’s online world? Brochure copy

Of course there is.

Whether you have them printed as a hand-out for exhibitions or conferences, or as a PDF download from your website, brochures remain a valid form of marketing collateral.

So, if that’s the case, why did your last one tank?

Why did no one read it?

Your brochure is only as good as the images and words it contains and brochure copywriting isn’t as easy to write as you may think.

Here are some of the main reasons why your brochure failed.

#1 Re-using existing copy

Before I begin, if you think all you have to do is copy the content from your website and paste it into your brochure, think again.

You are creating your brochure for a specific purpose, so it’s important the information it contains is relevant.

#2 Relevancy

Normally, your brochure exits to promote a new product or service (occasionally a range of services).

If that’s the case don’t fill the pages with stuff about everything else you do. Granted, you can have a page at the back that gives an overview of that stuff, but the main focus should be on the product you’re promoting.

#3 Going all literary

You already know that your website copy should be chatty, informal and interesting, so why have you just filled your brochure with mind numbing hyperbole?

Just because you’re writing for something that’s (potentially) going to be published doesn’t mean you’re writing a classic work of fiction.

You’re writing for the same audience so keep your language simple and your style the same as your web copy. Remember, it should look as though it’s come from the same company.

#4 Naff images

Why use stock images that have no relevancy to your business when you can get your own graphics created and photos taken?

This brochure is supposed to represent your business, so make sure your imagery is personal to you.

#5 Talk to the reader

Don’t write your brochure in the third person.

It’s there to convince the person reading it to buy from you, make contact or book an appointment. Use the second person (i.e.’you’) to talk to them directly and tell them how buying from you will benefit them.

#6 Tell them what they need to know not what you want to talk about

As a business owner, it’s tempting to tell the world how great your company is and how hard you’ve worked to get where you are today.

The problem is your customers really don’t care.

They want to know how you’re going to help them, why their lives will be better as a result and how to get in touch. It’s as simple as that.

Keep your content focused on your customer not on your business.

How many of those are you guilty of?

Brochures can be powerful tools when written correctly.

Writing for your own company can be tough, which is why it is a good idea to bring in an external copywriter with no knowledge of your company who can look at what you do from a customers’ perspective.

 

Author: Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd

Are Your Words Driving Customers Away?

You hate ‘in your face’ marketing, right? Marketing

I’m talking about those websites and landing pages that are full of hype and insincere drivel that’s supposed to make you want to buy a product you don’t need.

All you really want is the basic facts about the product and how it’s going to benefit you. Then, if it is something you can’t do without and it’s the right price, you’ll buy.

If that’s how you think, why is your website full of marketing drivel that’s driving your customers away?

I’m not talking about jargon; I mean the stuff that’s damaging your conversion rates.

Over-used phrases

How many times have you read that something’s ‘ground-breaking’ or ‘market-leading’?

“Our product is world-class…” – really, where’s your proof?

“Our new widget is first-rate…” was the old one second-rate?

These words and phrases are meaningless. Instead of wasting space with these, tell your reader why your product is great and why that is important to them. Will it make them happier, save them time, make them happier?

Over excitement

If you’re launching a new product you’re bound to be excited about it, but resist the urge to claim it’s a ‘breakthrough’ (unless you have proof), ‘innovative’, or ‘pioneering’.

It’s new; we get that, but tell us why. Explain what’s new about it and, more importantly, what it means to us as consumers. In that way you’ll be converting this new feature into a benefit.

Amazing?

Don’t tell us you’re the best, or incredible or the ultimate, instead tell us what you’re really like and leave words like that for your testimonials.

If you over-hype your copy no one will believe you.

Stop being meaningless

Come on now, tell the truth, does your website copywriting claim ‘fast delivery’ or ‘great customer service’?

If you want to show your customer service levels use specifics, such as the results of a customer survey. This will increase your credibility.

Jargon

The last on my list, but one of the biggest offenders in the ‘meaningless website drivel’ stakes.

Leveraging and alleviating are not as powerful as ‘using’ or ‘easing’ – stop trying to be clever and write what you mean.

Come on, be honest, how many of these are you guilty of?

You see, writing simple, straightforward copy isn’t as easy as you first thought. It’s easy to splatter your copy with meaningless drivel that dilutes your message until there’s nothing left to impress your customers with.

Before you start writing think about your customer, who they are and what they want. Then keep them focused in your mind as you write using their words.

 

Author: Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd

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