Knowledge is Stifling Your Writing

This blog first appeared on Briar Copywriting‘s blog.

I have never encouraged anyone to write about his or her own business.

The quality of the marketing collateral you produce is key to your business’s success.

I know you’re sitting there reading this thinking yeah, right. You would say that, you’re a copywriter. Granted, that’s partly the reason because if I encouraged you all to write your own stuff I’d be out of a job, but that’s only a teeny-weeny part of my motivation.

Something strange happens when you run a business – you become knowledgeable. After a while you have come across just about every scenario you can think of, the information you have amassed is stifling your objectivity and you start to communicate less effectively.

No, really, you do.

Because everything about your business is like second nature to you, you begin to assume a certain level of knowledge in your audience.

As a result you start answering questions your customers don’t want to know about and you find it impossible to effectively and clearly respond to their genuine questions because you automatically assume they have a greater understanding than they really do.

Just think about it; how many times has your kid come to you asking for help with their homework? They’ve told you want they’re studying and the question they need to answer, but because you have a higher level of knowledge than them, you immediately launch into an answer that brings in all sorts of other facts that they haven’t even learnt yet leaving them more confused than before.

The same thing happens when you try to write your marketing materials. Rather than starting at the base level and building on knowledge, you immediately launch in to a complex and convoluted answer that just confuses.

Because it’s hard for you to believe that someone else doesn’t have the same knowledge level as you, you become a hopeless communicator. It happens to everyone, no matter what field they are in.

Overcoming your knowledge block

The main problem with your knowledge block is that once the information is in your head you can’t get rid of it. You can’t suddenly decide to “unknow” stuff, so you have to find a way to suppress your knowledge.

For some that’s like dumbing down what they know, but it’s not. It’s an effective way of clearly getting your message across to your audience.

When first meeting with a new client, I always tell them to treat me like a customer – they mustn’t assume I know anything. In fact, even if I’ve written for the same industry before my knowledge level is zero because I don’t know their business.

Even then I usually end up stopping them and asking them to clarify something because they’ve used a term or language that’s confusing or assumes a certain level of knowledge that neither I nor their customer has.

The best way to avoid this trap is to get someone else (a professional copywriter) to create your copy for you. But if you insist on doing it yourself make sure you follow these steps:

  1. Write down what you want to say
  2. Review it to make sure it is aimed at your customer, highlighting benefits, and not about you and your company
  3. Review it again and simplify the language and remove any jargon
  4. Get someone not connected with your business to read it to see if they understand what you’re saying and whether it would make them buy/get in touch etc.
  5. If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board and start again
  6. Keep going until you write something that’s simple, clear, engaging and compelling

Despite what you may think, writing marketing copy is not easy. If it were copywriters, like me, wouldn’t exist.

Over Half of the UK’s Ad Spend is on Digital

The UK is the 1st country to spend more than half of it’s Ad spend on digital.

GroupM carried out the research, which showed that in 2015, £1 or very £2 spent on advertising will go to digital online media.

Apparently, it can be directly linked to our smartphone culture. According to Adam Smith of GroupM:

“The British are the most enthusiastic online shoppers in the world in terms of spend per head. And there has always been a high level of credit and debit card use [online]. On top of that Britons have rapidly embraced smartphone and tablet use, all of which has fuelled where advertisers spend their money.”

How will this affect your business?

With more and more people using mobile technology for shopping, it’s essential you have a responsive web presence that works across all devices.

Plus, your online content has to be red hot.

How do you do that?

  • Your website must be focused on your customers
  • Benefits and USPs must be highlighted
  • You must offer a simple buying process

Above all, your content marketing must be your top priority.

People will only find you if you deliver consistently high quality content that’s focused on your customers’ needs.

Why?

Your customers are interested in getting the best for themselves. They’re not interested in you, only what you can do for them.

That ‘s why it’s essential you separate yourself from your business when writing. Your articles aren’t sale pitches; they should be informative, relevant and be beneficial to your reader.

In simple terms, to make sure your business stays one step ahead:

  1. Invest in making your digital marketing as strong as possible
  2. Make sure everything is written for your customer

 

Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting

Proofreading Blunders Will Cost You Dearly

proofreading blunders

I don’t know whether you saw it, but last week I posted on Briar Copywriting’s blog about the £8.8m proofreading blunder.

Well, according to a recent article in the i newspaper, it would appear that failing to proofread things isn’t  modern day phenomena and it has led to some startling results.

Just in case the image above is hard to read, here are the 6 proofreading errors:

Peak Humiliation

The UK’s biggest tourism drive, which cost £125m, sought to entice visitors to our shores in 2012. Unfortunately, a global poster campaign had to be pulled as it referred to the Brecon Beacons as the ‘Breacon Beacons’.

Rough Trade

A trader on the Tokyo stick exchange wanted to trade one share at 610,000 yen in 2005. Instead, he accidentally sold 610,000 shares at one yen each. His firmlost an embarrassing 27bn yen (£150m).

Stroke of Luck

A US car dealership produced 50,000 scratch-cards offering $1,000 in 2007. A misprint resulted in every ticket being a winner. The firm appeased customers by offering them gift cards, setting it back $250,000.

NASA’s Dashed Hopes

A single missing hyphen in the coding used to set trajectory and speed of Mariner 1, NASA’s first interplanetary probe, caused the craft to deviate from the correct course moments after take-off in 1962. The £53m craft was destroyed.

One For The Books

In 1631 printer Robert Barker produced 1,000 Bibles for Charles I, but an omitted ‘not’ meant the Seventh Commandment read “Thou shalt commit adultery”. The book was dubbed the Wicked Bible and Barker went out of business.

And Finally…

The search engine giant Google was actually supposed to be named ‘Googol’, but when registering the domain name in 1997, a slip of the finger resulted in the website we know today.

 

Thanks i!

How Do You Know What Your Blog Audience Wants?

target audience

As a blogger, it’s always nice to hear from people that read my stuff.

Recently, I received an email from a reader of my other blog, which is part of my business site, Briar Copywriting.

Basically, the guy thanked me for my advice, which he’d used to get him started as a blogger, but being new to the whole game wanted to know how he could write for an audience that didn’t yet exist.

The answer to that is simple.

Why are you blogging?

In this case the answer to that question is to promote a business.

You are the expert in your field and therefore should have lots to blog about.

For argument’s sake, let’s say you are a personal trainer and have started a blog to tempt people to your website.

Now think about your ideal customers – why would they come to you?

  • Advice on fitness
  • To loose weight
  • To gain flexibility
  • To improve their lifestyle…

Now all you have to do is write articles that encompass those things.

How do you know people will come?

You are offering the help and advice your potential clients are searching the internet for, therefore there’s a good chance your articles will come up in their search results. If you offer great information they’ll take a look at your website to learn more about what you can do for them.

See how it works?

Of course, you’ll also need to write with search engine optimisation in mind (using keywords), but remember to always write for your reader. By all means use keywords in your titles, sub headings and content, but your writing must be natural if you want Google to love it.

That’s about it.

If you’ve just started a blog to run along side your business, think about how you can add value to your readers and then create posts that solve the problems they are facing and will be searching Google for.

Just remember you’re not going to amass a huge following over night. Blogging takes time to gain momentum, but stick with it and you’ll never look back.

Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd.

 

8 Sources of Inspiration For Your Next Blog Post

inspiration for blog topics

One of the toughest things you’ll be faced with as a blogger is the need for a constant stream of ideas for blog posts.

You audience are a demanding bunch and will want fresh, high quality information from you regularly.

So what happens, after a few weeks, when your ideas start to dry up?

That’s where this post will come in handy.

What follows are 8 sources of inspiration that will make sure you never run out of ideas.

1. Check out your FAQs

The chances are you’re faced with a lot of questions from your customers and I bet you get asked the same thing over and over.

Those questions will provide you with a list of potential blog topics. After all, if several customers have asked the question you can bet there are loads more out there thinking the same thing.

Not only will you have an endless list of ideas, you’ll also be improving your customer service by providing advice on the things that concern your customers the most.

2. “How to”

The humble “how to” post is a great way to cement your expert status.

Whether it’s the best way to train a dog, how to wear a tie, or how to get the most miles from a tank of fuel, your audience will love your advice and draw in a loyal readership.

3. Question and answer

Bringing in the point of view of others is a great way to add interest and depth to your blog.

Interviewing an industry expert, employee or even a customers will give a new dimension to your posts and could open up a whole raft of topic ideas for you.

Writing it in a Q&A format will also provide a change of pave to refresh  your normal content.

4. Company news

Although your blog is not there for overly promotional posts, if you have an employee who’s done something extraordinary, or whether your company is involved in a charity event, there’s no harm in writing about it.

The employee angle is especially relevant as it gives an insight into your company and the people who work for you.

5. Education

Your knowledge is valuable.

People are searching the internet every day for information about what you do, so make sure you’re the one writing about it.

It doesn’t have to be exciting, but it does have to be interesting and relevant.

6. Lists

One of the most popular types of blog post are the top lists.

A list means there’s a lot of information in one place. Whether it’s like this one, or a list of useful websites, or products, it will prove to be a valuable resource guide.

7. Product reviews

OK, I’m not suggesting you give your product a favourable review and trash the competition, but if you have just found a new product or service that’s useful to you, think about whether it would be useful to your customers too.

Perhaps you researched several options before buying. If you did, think how beneficial  that advice would be to someone with the same needs.

When looking for products your customers want expert help and who better to give them that help than you?

8. Use your YouTube videos

Rather than letting your YouTube videos gather dust, create blog posts around them. Perhaps they can be used to illustrate a particular point? If so, top and tail them with great content and before you know it you’ll have an informative blog post ready to be published.

Hopefully, these suggestions will get your creative juices flowing.

Do you have any other ideas for blog posts? If so leave a comment below and share them with me, I’d love to hear what you come up with.

 

Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd