Lately, we’ve been assisting several clients with their copywriting – that is, the content in their website or advertising that describes their company, makes a statement, and expresses their marketing message. And we’ve realized that most small business owners are intimidated by the task of distilling everything about their company into a few paragraphs. BAD COPY negatively affects any marketing you do – you’re not targeting your customers in a way that actually reaches them, you’re drowning them in words that aren’t interesting and make no sense.
Read through your marketing materials. Click through your website. And get ready for tough love: if you fit any of the following criteria, it’s time for a rewrite!
1. Arrogant: You should be focusing on your potential clients and their needs, rather than spending lots of copy on your company. Ask questions and immediately offer solutions.
2. Pushy: If you’re using hard-sell language, you’re driving customers away. No one wants to be subjected to an infomercial! Scale it back. Write like a normal person would speak (I always read my copy aloud after I’ve written it to make sure it sounds genuine).
3. Rambling: No webpage should have more than a few paragraphs of content. When clients are looking through your marketing materials, they want information, not a doctoral thesis. Don’t give them homework, give them a summary!
4. Boring: If your language is passive, customer interest will be close to nonexistent. Spice it up! Be motivating and action-oriented! (Note those last two sentences: short! and with punctuation!)
5. Unbelievable: Your potential clients are smart enough to see through lofty claims. Be realistic, honest, and transparent.
6. Undesirable: Are you delivering a message your customers want to hear? Don’t tell them what you think they want to hear; address concerns you know they have and show you understand.
7. Unintelligible: Using technical terms and industry jargon alienates consumers who aren’t familiar with your product/service. Keep it simple!
8. Ignorant: Research, research, research! Do you know what your competitors are saying? Do you know what your current/past/potential clients are asking?
9. Singleminded: Got a one-track mission? Diversify! It’s important to integrate a few different strategies across the board. Think cohesive, persistent, and consistent.
10. Lost: Don’t drift away from your target market. Rein in your message and hit the areas you know could respond.
Pretend to be a consumer that knows nothing about your business. If you think your message might be unclear (and you found some of the “no-nos” above), re-evaluate what your marketing goals are. Writing isn’t difficult when you have clear objectives in mind. Keeping your copywriting to just a few paragraphs, with just a few sentences each, helps your message come through loud and clear.