In your business, when preparing marketing materials such as websites, brochures, leaflets and press releases – poorly written copy can create a bad impression and send out the wrong message about your business.
I wanted to share some practical and effective, DOs and DON’Ts on writing impactful marketing copy:
1. Think about your audience
You need to consider who they are, and what their need, problem, pain or desire is. Why would they need your product or service? Then think about what you want them to do as a result of reading your copy. What action should they take ….ring for a consultation, buy now, get an estimate?
2. Consider the type of communication
Always review the type of copy you’re writing and where it will appear – a press release requires a different style than say, copy on your website or an advert. A press release needs a more factual style with quotes and ‘snippets’ that a journalist can ‘lift’ and include in their publication with minimal effort.
3. Always talk ‘Benefits’ and ‘Value’
Always translate the features of your product or service into the ‘benefits’ for that customer – demonstrate the value or what they will get from buying it. Use testimonials, case studies, examples and facts to reinforce the message.
4. Use plain English
Try to avoid jargon or industry terminology at all costs. Unless your audience is a technical one and needs to know this level of detail.
5. Proof-read everything
Once you’ve written something yourself, you tend to get too close to it, to see the mistakes. Read it through once and then ask others to sense check it for you. The biggest mistakes are often in headlines, as we tend to skip over these and read what we think should be there, rather than what is actually there. Beware, this is easily done and is a very common and painful mistake to make. However, most of us, only ever do it once!
6. Think about using pictures
They say, a picture can tell a 1,000 words. So consider if introducing an image will add to your marketing message. Particularly good in press releases to create interest (if you have something worth showing, like an award ceremony, smart new premises, etc) and it breaks up the copy. Be careful to strike a good balance and not distract your audience with too many images.
7. Less is more = EDIT
Cut down the words, use as few as possible to get your message across. Use a highlighter pen and mark the essential words, try to remove the non-essential words. Example: Free delivery in the local area = Free local delivery.
Honesty is always the best policy. Never lie or exaggerate in your copy. Always get facts right – if they’re not hard facts and you’re not sure, don’t use them. Always quote the source, if they’re not your own statistics. If you have bad news to share, like a price rise, be open and don’t try to sneak it through in the small print or T&Cs. You’ll be found out in the end.
2. Have spelling mistakes
Try to eliminate spelling and grammatical mistakes. Have a good dictionary and thesaurus to hand. Or use the spell checker available on your PC in MS Word. One thing to note: marketing copy isn’t perfect ‘Queen’s English’ and often requires a more conversational style to make it more appealing and easy for the audience. However, try to avoid clichés or anything too cheesy.
3. Use too many CAPITALS or exclamation marks!
Sometimes these are helpful but capitals can appear like shouting and too many exclamation marks can become tiresome. Only ever use one and not multiples !!!!!
4. Be too familiar or personal
Avoid being too personal and revealing facts about yourself that really don’t interest your audience or using a tone of voice that is too over-friendly or familiar. You need to judge the degree of this, depending on how established the relationship is with the audience and the type of communication.
5. ‘We’ all over ‘You’
I heard this expression and it stuck as it is so true! It means you should have a 3 to 1 ratio of ‘You’ to ‘We’ in your marketing copy. The audience doesn’t want to hear about “We did this”, “We did that”, “We offer a range of xxxx”. They want to hear about the ‘benefits’ and ‘value’ for them personally.
The key is always to try and get inside the head of your customer and really understand what they’re looking for. It will help you write copy with empathy and make it far more engaging for the reader.