27th May 2016
Hana Dickinson, MD of The Bridge – Strategic Marketing & PR Specialists and creator of...
27th May 2016
No matter what business you’re in, with copywriting it’s important to remember that the average man or woman on the street will draw a complete blank when you mention some of the jargon and acronyms you use every day. It’s like a doctor prescribing you with a synchronous diaphragmatic flutter. That might sound terrifying, but you’ve actually just got a case of the hiccups.
So, when you’re communicating with your clients and prospective customers, make sure the language you use is as straightforward as possible. Remember, you’re not writing for your colleagues who have as much knowledge about the industry as you do.
Assume no knowledge
If you do need to use technical terms in your writing, always explain what these mean in plain English. Readers will get frustrated if they have to go away and Google your jargon, and this will dilute your overall message. Assume no knowledge on the part of the reader, and you won’t go far wrong.
Similarly, never use 20 words where five will do. Writing succinctly will keep your reader’s attention, and it means you can include more information if you have a limited word count. Avoid flowery language – you’re not writing a novel, and readers want to learn the basics without having to trawl through stacks of adjectives and superlatives.
Don’t be afraid of using contractions in your writing – there’s no crime in writing ‘isn’t’ as opposed to ‘it is not’. In fact, doing so can help the text flow better and make the writer appear more friendly to the audience.
Consider your tone of voice
Copywriting for your business – whether that’s done in-house or by outsourcing – means you can set what’s known as a ‘tone of voice’ to the outside world. In an industry like finance, there’s a misconception that it’s all a bit stuffy and uninteresting, but adding a personality to your writing will highlight that this isn’t the case.
This is particularly true when using social media. Take a look at some of the biggest businesses in the world and their Twitter feed, for example, will be full of personality. Remember that people buy from people, so writing in this way will help you build a strong relationship with your clients. In turn, this means they will trust you and come back to you in the future. It also means they are more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.
Choose the right message for your readers
As well as the style and tone of your writing, it’s just as important to consider the message itself. Your press release, article or blog needs to be of benefit to your client or potential customer. It’s not just about telling them how great your business is – you’ve got to give them information that will be of real use to them. This message might include helpful tips about getting a mortgage in today’s housing market, or ways they can increase their retirement savings. Feel free to weave in key messages about your company, but it’s important that these aren’t the sole focus.
Try the ‘so what?’ test. Look at the article you’ve written and read it as though you were a complete outsider to your business and the industry as a whole. If it’s at all possible to say ‘so what?’ to your subject matter, then it might be worth going back to the drawing board and choosing a different topic.
Proofread, proofread, proofread
By the same token, it’s really important to review anything you write to make sure it reads well. A good way to do this is to say the words out loud, perhaps as though you were a television news presenter. If you find you have to draw a breath during a sentence, for example, consider adding some full stops or commas. Sentences should be short and sweet, otherwise you’ll be in danger of losing your reader’s attention.
And, of course, it’s absolutely crucial that you don’t make any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. If this isn’t your strong suit, have someone else read through your copy to spot anything you might have missed. Readers will think much less of your organisation if you’re prepared to submit an article with glaring mistakes.
Use all communication channels open to you
Thanks to the internet, there are now multiple avenues for you to get your message out to the wider world. So a press release sent to the local media can now be adapted as a blog for your website, with the information then used on social media and in digital marketing like e-newsletters for your clients.
You’ll need to adapt your message slightly for each of these different channels. The press release will be a little more formal and will need to include quotes from your managing director or head of operations, for example. Then for your e-newsletter, this copy can be in the first person and be more approachable. Social media, meanwhile, will feature a truncated version of the story with a link back to your website for the full article.
Wherever your copy appears, it’s important that your message is consistent and that you show professionalism at all times. You want your audience to see your company as a knowledgeable and expert voice, and one which they’ll have no hesitation in working with. Ultimately, you want them to choose you over your competitors, and to keep coming back.
With a credible, professional message and approachable tone of voice, you can be assured that your copywriting can have a truly positive impact on your business, both now and in the future.