If a prospective client asked you to talk about your business, you’d answer them in a friendly, chatty way. You’d keep your sentences short and succinct. You’d miss out lots of the small, unimportant details, and your conversation would be informal, friendly and would do a pretty good job of selling your company. You’d do all this without even thinking about it.
But if the same person asked you to write about your business, would you go about it the same way? Probably not. Most people tend to write formal, long sentences about their business. They go into detail about the features, not the benefits and usually don’t put down in words anything that differentiates their business from anyone else’s.
Your website, brochure, direct-mail letter or any other promotional material needs to make you stand out from the crowd. Make it speak to the Customer. Keep your sentences short and snappy. Emphasis the benefits. Read it out loud and imagine yourself saying it in person to the Customer. Does it sound natural? And does it get your message across quickly and accurately?
One trick I’ve learnt when writing copy is to write too many words and then go back and delete unnecessary ones. And then do it again. And again. Eventually you’ll end up with something that’s pretty much perfect. I’ve also found that changing the order of your words, paragraphs and sections can work better so don’t be afraid to spend time editing.
Also make the most of space. Use 3 or 4 line paragraphs and don’t be afraid to use bullet points to break up the space and make it more appealing to the readers’ eyes. Sometimes changing the format of your paragraph can add interest and hold the readers’ attention.
So take a look at your website copy:
- Does it talk directly to your Customers?
- Does it say what you want it to?
- Does it concentrate on the benefits, not the features?
If not, follow some of these methods I’ve talked about and see if you can make it better.
Have a look at some of your competitors. Is theirs better than yours? Can you make yours mark out your business as that bit different, and ultimately, get you more sales than your rival?
Try it on all your marketing literature. Remember, people buy from people, so make your copy sound natural and human and people are sure to buy from you
Newton Le Willows based Web Designer Debbie Dean of Debayne Web Design received an email from Chester based Copywriter Nick Pagan asking if she’d like to meet up to see if they could do business together. Debbie didn’t know Nick but as he said he was a fellow member of BNI, she decided to say yes.
And saying yes has certainly paid dividends for Debbie as she not only got business from Nick to redesign and host his website for him, she also got him to rewrite the copy on her company’s website. Both parties are delighted with the end-results.
As Debbie explained “I asked Nick to have a look at our website and give me a few pointers on how it could be improved. What he came back with was fantastic – he really grasped our business message and put it down in words perfectly. Now the website reads like it’s talking to our Customers and compels them to get in touch with us.”
Nick is also equally pleased with the new-look website Debayne designed for him. His website needed modernising and his portfolio needed to be updated. Supplying Debbie with the text and photo required, she not only updated Nick’s site but also managed to halve his current hosting costs.
“My old website was becoming a bit tired and needed to be more professional looking,” said Nick “The new site certainly is that and more. It has allowed me to showcase my portfolio in a much clearer format and has made my contact details much more prominent.”
Debbie and Nick both agree that if it hadn’t been for BNI they would never have made a connection. Even though they don’t belong to the same Chapter, being members gave each other a reassurance that their work is up to a certain standard and would meet professional expectations.
This week, I got an interesting phone call from a web designer I do a lot of work for, asking me to take a look at the copy on a website. The site in question was for a swimming-pool products company and was used for information and as an e-commerce site. All well and good so far. The problem with the website was that the owner had nicked 90% of the content from another website.
So what’s wrong with that you might ask? Well Google and the other search engines have very strict rules on this. They state you must have original copy in order to appear on their rankings.
Here’s what Google have to say on the subject:
“Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results. If your site suffers from duplicate content issues, and you don’t follow the advice listed above, we do a good job of choosing a version of the content to show in our search results.
However, if our review indicated that you engaged in deceptive practices and your site has been removed from our search results, review your site carefully”
In other words, choose your words wisely. Wholesale theft will not be tolerated. It’s like plagarism or songwriters stealing other people’s songs.
If you have an idea what you want to say on your website or you’ve seen a competitor’s site that you like the style of, employ a freelance copywriter to write the copy for you. This will ensure the words are both original and also fully search engine optimised to get you the sales you want. And it will be cheaper in the long-run for you.
I managed to rewrite the copy on the pool website. And I guarantee it’s 100% original.
Not so long ago, those in the know declared that the press-release was dead. Extinct. Dinosaurs replaced by the new life-forms of twitter and other forms of social media. So – are they right? Is the press release dead?
I don’t think so personally. I’ve been asked to write lots of press releases just this week – not the traditional, double-spaced variety but small, snappy press releases designed purely to go online. And I happen to think these are a brilliant way to improve a company’s PR if done correctly. Most of the sites you can post them on are free, or charge a one off fee to open an account. And you can fully SEO them so they appear high on google news.
So here are a few tips on how to write the modern press release:
- Keep Them Short. A couple of hundred words at most should do it. They should contain small paragraphs, filled with short sentences. Today’s consumers have short attention spans and skim-read text so make it stand out.
- Write A Snappy Headline. Draw your readers in with interesting headlines. Give them something interesting to read and tell them a story.
- Add Pictures If You Can. Most free press release sites allow you to upload photos. So take advantage – people respond to people so show them a smiley face.
- Add Links. Not all sites will allow you to hyperlink back to your website, but where you can, make sure you do.
- Post It Wherever You Can. Don’t just put your press release on the free sites – post it to Linkedin, your blog or even facebook. You’ll be amazed how many people will read it through these sites. And if you add “like” buttons or allow it to be shared, then this will allow your release to be read by as many people as possible.
It’s still important to add quotes where you can as this makes it seem to be from a real person.
So whilst the press release hasn’t yet taken its last breath: it can still be a vital and effective part of your marketing strategy. And if you’re not sure how to write one yourself, you could always ask a freelance copywriter to do it for you.
A happy 2011 to you all. And I hope it’s a great one. This year I’m here to help you all make the most of your copy and make it work harder for you. Money’s tighter than ever, budgets have been slashed and the era of austerity is well and truly upon us. So how can you make sure your business makes the most of your advertising literature? Check out these tips and see if they can help you, and make every word count.
You is the most important word you should ever write to make your copy more effective. If someone reads your website or brochure, they don’t want to know how you started in your business or how good you are at Customer service. They want to know what’s in it for them. They ask the question what can you do for me?
Have a look at this example of how not to do it
“Welcome to …Builders
… Builders has been serving homeowners and businesses in London and Surrey for over 15 years. Our customers can expect the highest standards of craftsmanship on every job, whether we’re building a new home extension, loft extension or remodelling a bathroom. Our reputation for distinctive work and unparallel quality is based on 3 guiding principles:”
It would be much better to say:
“…Builders have been serving homeowners and businesses like you, across London and Surrey for over 15 years. Like our Customers, you’ll receive the highest standards of craftsmanship on every job, whether you’re building an extension, loft-conversion or simply re-fitting your bathroom. See for yourself how we have built our reputation for distinctive, original work and unparalleled quality.”
The word “you” or “yours” should outnumber the word “we” by 4-1. And make sure you use spell-check to correct your mistakes – it makes your site more professional
Try it for yourself with your copy. And I’ll be back next week with another tip on how to make your copy more effective.
You may recall The Daily Mail printing an article back in October about The Leeds Building Society recruiting an English Teacher to improve its staff’s grasp of written English. The piece focussed on internal reports and letters to Customers that were littered with grammatical errors and that were very difficult to understand. And, worryingly, these were reports or letters written by recent graduates. The result was that staff of all ages underwent intensive training in basic English, including speech and punctuation to improve the company’s literacy standards. The piece went on to reveal, shockingly, that British students had a worse grasp of English than their foreign counterparts, all of whom speak English as a second language!
But it’s not just financial organisations that need to worry about falling literacy standards as I witnessed a terrible miss-use of our language this evening on BBC Radio. Whilst tuned in to Radio 5 for this evening’s latest football news, I couldn’t believe my ears when a newsreader, talking about the tragic murder of Jo Yeates, told listeners that “ a sock went missing at the time her body was found” implying that she had being wearing the sock at the time of discovery, but it was somehow lost after this. Of course, we all now know that the truth is that the sock was missing from her body when she was discovered – a completely different version of events. Subsequent news bulletins corrected the story.
So does this mean we no longer know the basics of how to speak and write our own language? Or is it simply symptomatic of the text and MSN generation and their ability to only communicate in abbreviations in their desperation to get it all out as quickly as possible? Or is it the fact we have a culture of dumbing down everything?
Let’s hope we see a back to basics approach and a rise in standards soon and we can reclaim a pride in our wonderful language.
Until next time. LOL 🙂
isn’t it funny how your memory can play tricks with you over time? I attended a wedding last weekend back in my old stomping ground where I grew up. The venue was some old assembly rooms and I remember going to some legendary under 18 disco’s with mates from school. And I can recall thinking how big it was and what a dump! Thing is, at the weekend it looked fantastic. All drapes and twinkling lights and it was actually fairly small. My perception had changed
I thought about how I could relate this to writing. When you read about a subject, you want to imagine exactly what it’s like – how does it look? how does it feel? and most importantly, what can it do for me? Whether it’s web copy, a brochure or an article in a magazine, the words should all do the same – invoke feelings and change perceptions.
Great copy isn’t easy – have a go at writing about something you love or an event you’ve attended and see if your perception changes after you’ve written it
Hello everyone. this is my first ever blog so forgive me if it goes astray.
My name’s Nick and I love writing and reading – usually about specific subjects but often about nothing in particular. My life today is very good. I’m not at the day job, which is always a bonus so I’m having a “catch up day” – you know where you go through piles of papers stuck in the dining room and pay bills etc. Those boring but have to be done jobs. But at least the sun’s shining. And I’m trying to arrange meetings and write my short pitch for my weekly breakfast networking meeting in the morning. Useful for looking for more business. Anyway, must go now but will come back again when I have something useful to say.