I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately talking to entrepreneurs about the importance of effective copywriting. I happen to love writing. I know, I’m weird. I get it…in fact, I embrace it.
Most small business owners didn’t set out to be writers but unless you want to pay someone else to do it for you, it is a super important skill to develop. Your copy can make or break the effectiveness of your marketing.
Here are some “cold hard facts” for you…when someone lands on your web site you have less than 30 seconds to capture their attention before they hit the back button. When they look at that postcard you put time and money into designing and printing, you have seconds before they toss it. Your email headline is the most important part of anything you send – if it’s not compelling enough, it doesn’t matter what’s inside. Your social media updates better be compelling or that link will never get a click (no matter how good the photo is).
What do all of those things have in common? They depend on good copy. At best, crappy copy means no one pays attention to what you have to say. At worst it means you get reported as spam, unliked, deleted etc.
Here is the good news…
Great copywriting is a skill you can learn.
Like everything in life, the more you do it, the better you get.
Here are a few of my favorite copywriting tips…
Don't edit while you write.
Sit down and write what you need to without thinking about it too much. When you are done, walk away (or at least just work on something else!) and come back to it 20 minutes or more later. Before you start to re-read what you’ve written, think about WHO you are writing it to and what it is you want them to do when they finish reading. Now go back and re-read it and start to edit.
It's not about you; it's about the reader – the client.
They don’t want to hear all about you you you. They want to know what you can do for them. You probably strive to make every client feel like they are the most important client in your contact list, right? Make your copy help them to feel that way when they read what you have to say.
Read what you’ve written and take note of every time you use the words I, my, we or our. See if there is a way to rewrite it so that the I/we shifts to you/your. For example “I make sure you have a stress free vacation” gets changed to “You’ll enjoy a stress free vacation knowing that all of the details are taken care of.” Keep the focus on the client and not on you.
There is all sorts of research that shows the word YOU is the most effective word you can use!
Speak the language of your ideal client.
Don’t you hate reading things written in leagalese? Why is that? BECAUSE IT’S NOT YOUR LANGUAGE!! You don’t talk that way. Make an effort to use the words your target market uses. The more you know about your ideal client the easier this is to do. Find where they hang out online. Read the message boards they are on, read reviews they’ve written of the books they read, comments on blogs they frequent, become an avid reader of magazines they subscribe to. Once you get a feel for how they talk – especially about topics relevant to lifestyle – make sure your writing fits that same voice and tone.
Avoid “calling them out” on social media or in email.
Having a Facebook post (or worse, a Facebook ad!) that says “WINE LOVERS – You’ll love this cruise!” or “Attention busy moms! We make your family vacation simple!” is like a big old red flag saying “I’m selling something!” or “I want something from you!” If you want to mention that specific thing that makes them a “target” for your post or email, work it in more conversationally.
Use more verbs than adjectives.
You are not a turn of the century British novelist! Verbs help maintain the momentum and energy of the post. Too many adjectives, especially superlatives, and you sound too flowery and it becomes an “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” sort of situation.
Keep it simple, sweetheart.
Keep paragraphs short. When people see a big block of unbroken text they are more likely to just skip over it. It feels overwhelming. The average paragraph should be no longer than 3-5 sentences. By the same token, keep the sentences from getting too long as well.
Write to one person.
When you sit down to write that blog post or marketing copy, think about your favorite client. The one you wish you could clone and have 10 more of just like them. Keep them in mind while you write. Keep it light and conversational – the way you would write to a friend. Don’t try to write for everyone who may see the post, write just to that one client. When people read it, they are going to feel that connection and will find it more enticing.
Remember, this is a skill you have to keep working on.
The best thing you can do is write as often as possible. Write every day – blog posts, journal, write about anything and everything – just set a timer for 15-20 minutes and write something every day. Content marketing is one of the best ways to market your business online. Put these copywriting tips to work and you’ll be honing your copywriting skills while you generate awesome content for your business. Win, win!