It’s late in the afternoon. You’re on your fourth cup of coffee for the day, praying the caffeine kick will create a surge in creativity. You’re not writing sonnets, you tell yourself. It’s just my whole mission statement summed up in two paragraphs. How hard can it be? You spend an hour staring at a blank Word page and another two backspacing the hell out of it. Crafting copy that sells is no easy feat… even for writers, and it often gets placed on the marketing back burner.
A recent article from The Harvard Business Review titled, “Your Company is Only as Good as Your Writing” poses this question: “great leaders consider communication a core competence, so why don’t more businesses?” The author goes on to say, “In my experience, the practice of good, collaborative writing makes the difference between great business and bad business — a sale or no sale.” It’s true that across the board, businesses suffer from bland, repetitive copy. An article from Inc. sums it up like this, “When you write like everyone else and sound like everyone else and act like everyone else, you’re saying, “Our products are like everyone else’s, too.”
People underestimate the power of effective copywriting. Well-written, enticing, intelligent copy can make or break a campaign and if harnessed correctly, can truly effect your brand’s bottom line. Which is why, it’s so crucial to invest some time in truly understanding the fundamentals of crafting effective copy for your business. Here are some steps to get you headed in the right direction.
Storytelling: It’s the only way to get your audience to listen
Before you even put pen to paper or start clacking away on your keyboard, ask yourself, “what’s my why?” If you’re an entrepreneur or even semi-passionate about what you’re selling, understand what about this particular product or service is worth writing about.
Why should people care? What’s the story behind your brand and how does that story shape the stuff you’re putting out into the world? People connect with narratives. When people connect with you, they’re more inclined to trust and buy from you. It’s that simple.
It’s important to make the customer the hero of this story. Your job is to relate to a potential problem they might be facing, counteract it with solutions and provide tangible advice to give that person what they need to succeed. Paint a vivid picture, set the scene, and get readers to think to themselves, “Wow, I’ve totally been there.” This is appealing to the reader’s frustrations. Storytelling allows us to take this one step further by bringing those pain-points to life and then offering a way out.
Know who you’re talking to and understand your medium
Now that you’ve crafted the perfect story, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to share it. Who or what will be doing the storytelling? The medium you choose to distribute your story is important when defining who the listeners are. The tone of voice may vary depending on the publishing platform. Great copy works great in most places. However, keep in mind where you’re investing your money to get that copy seen and heard. Marketing personas help to inform content and will provide a good foundation when discerning between advertising avenues.
Establish your call to action from the get-go
The difference between sales copy and creative writing should seem obvious, but so many advertisers forget this fundamental defining factor. The goal of any sales copy is to elicit a response from the reader, motivating them to take action. If you don’t know what your CTA is, your audience won’t either. This doesn’t mean to splatter a bunch of “BUY NOW” buttons all over your blog post. You’ve already persuaded them to buy through your masterful storytelling, remember? Make it easy for your readers to act and remind them why they should. This can be achieved by creating a sense of urgency or offering further incentives. Understand your CTA from the beginning and look for ways throughout your piece to drive this message home in a way that resonates with your audience.
Proofread like a relentless editor with a red pen
It seems obvious, but don’t skip this final and vital step in your editing process, because a lot of people do!
Remember, every blog post and every tweet reflects who you are as a brand which means it’s important to spell check and read over your copy with a fine-tooth comb. When your writing lacks credibility, what does that say about your company? Take the time to ensure your piece is error-free. Simply read aloud, use Grammarly and get someone to take a second look.
Don’t forget that editing is also about chopping and changing. This is challenging for writers. A clever turn of phrase or an amazing alliteration might sound brilliant to you, but whether or not it adds any value, is another story. Avoid confusing and cluttering your marketing copy with fluff.
Ask yourself: Does it pass the cringe test?
I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve edited that physically make me cringe for their over usage of cheesy sales language. It’s like watching a bad furniture commercial or listening to a used car salesman. Take a good look at your copy. Read it from your client/customer’s perspective. Do you find it genuine or obnoxious? Informational or dull? Personable or pretentious? These are questions you’ll want to ask yourself when editing your sales copy.
Ready to take the next step? Write on!
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