Business copywriting advice
A good visual brand matters, but excellent copy is just as important.
Looking the part in a competitive market is a crucial element in drawing attention to your website. Professional Copywriter John Watson says, “pictures attract, but it’s copy that sells”. Yet when I am dealing with clients on a day to day basis, they seem to understand the visual part, but bland, uninspiring copy which lacks focus is a huge problem across many industries.
“Too often I notice impressive design and branding prioritised over persuasive writing…”
Business owners in 2021 are very marketing savvy but still seem to struggle with how to use language to sell their products and services. Too often I notice impressive design and branding prioritised over persuasive writing. It’s not a surprise. Mostly they know what’s wonderful and unique about their offering, they just don’t have the time to really craft this message succinctly or to create copy that properly celebrates why they are special. And even sometimes when they do, tone and nuance are missing.
Right now you have just a few seconds to hold the interest of a casual browser, so it’s never been more important to use the right language. That’s why it’s vital for business owners to properly understand what makes good copy.
Copy which sells
One common issue I’d like to see less of is the overuse of tedious phrases. Taking ‘one stop shop’ as an example…while at one point this was a brilliant tagline – so good it got adopted through every type of business in every industry, for decades – it’s now overused to the point of meaninglessness. It lacks imagination.
People don’t want general descriptions, they want specific things with specific value. Stand out brands have a tagline which focuses on the uniqueness of their offering coupled with a value proposition, and they can still be broad, but actually mean something.
Personally, I love Walmart’s value proposition: ‘Save Money. Live Better’. Who doesn’t want that? It’s simply put but conjures up value and excitement for their everyday items and successfully inserts them into the consumer’s aspirations and needs with just four words. Two of which are a direct SEO search: ‘save money’. I frequently see companies claim their product as ‘the best’ or a ‘must have’, but we’ve got to stay away from empty statements which have no value. There is nothing enticing or convincing about these generic statements – you need to justify to the consumer purchasing from you, make it so that they can’t say no.
Copywriting is about showcasing what you have: research your market
The job of copy is to persuade readers to make a transaction with you. It should showcase your product and make information easy to find.
“We need to sell in terms of their needs, not our vision of their needs, which is full of bias.”
A common mistake for business owners is when they get too creative and try to find fancy ways of presenting their offering. This can risk convoluting the message – clarity is key – and also, without using the words your client is using to find you also risks scuppering your SEO searches. That’s also why research is essential if you want to get a ranking for a particular product, paying close attention to associated or secondary key words. We need to use the language our clients are using and we need to sell in terms of their needs, not our vision of their needs, which is full of bias.
This also highlights why it is important to test your copy. Get feedback from people who fall into your market criteria and ask them what your copy tells them about your product/brand.
Know who you’re writing for
Successful marketing builds relationships and makes the consumer want to do business with you. The only way you can do this well is by showing directly that you understand their needs and by speaking to their identity. Customers are much more likely to do business with an unknown brand if they can do that well. If your writing connects with readers, they’ll trust you and want to do business with you. Take this fashion brand whose excellent social media marketing content wins them online fans. Their humour and relatable posts are specifically aimed at their client avatars, and makes them feel accessible. Whilst this is specifically content focussed (not copy – copy sells, content builds relationships) they are also able to advertise their products via their social media posts successfully. That’s hard to do. Many avoid giving the hard sell on their relationship building channels, but it’s good content that got this brand here, and they are able to successfully balance both.
SEO: why it’s important, don’t ignore it
Consumers no longer want to spend a long time searching for products. Refining your copy to reach your target market will help increase the likelihood of your product ending up in relevant searches. That’s why enhancing your copy with the right SEO keywords (Search Engine Optimisation) is crucial. It just makes your products easier to find.
That’s how effective copy reduces the work the consumer has to do to buy from you. We’re in a time of ‘on-demand’ culture – why would anyone sift through a website when others can give them what they need instantly?
This is something Jeff Fromm refers to as the ‘Amazon effect’ – the expectation of instant gratification. In the same way they expect to not have to get in a car to get the product, they also expect the offer of a product or service to be delivered to them.
You can’t rely purely on SEO optimisation though. The copy pushes customers to make the purchase. It’s worth noting too that Google now rewards websites which can maintain readers’ attention as well as their interaction rate. So how do you keep customers on a page? With well written and entertaining content. Not to mention if you have informative and well written content then people will want to backlink your pages, giving you further rewards from the Google machine.
Effective copywriting could be the deciding factor in the customer choosing to do business with you. If you think your words aren’t important, think again! If you don’t have time, make time, or invest in someone who does.
Good content gains trust. Once you’ve established that relationship with a consumer, you’ve proved why they should buy from you. It’s a major part of customer retention, building awareness, becoming unforgettable and drumming up new business. Your writing is the voice of your brand, so stay away from tired phrases, focus on the benefits of what you offer, and show off your business!
If you’re unsure where to go next, read our blog on why business copy needs to excite and resonate with readers.
Written by Tilly Farrands, Sales and Events Coordinator at Phlashweb.
If you need help setting up your online presence or making the most out of what you already have, get in touch to see how we can help.