Why copywriting needs to go beyond the creative 21 days ago
As a copywriter, I’m sometimes referred to as a ‘creative’. Nice as it might sound, I think that this label is more than a little misleading.
Yes, copywriting for business is the art of applying the power of words to create results…But seeing copywriting as just a creative process can mean losing out on some of its advantages. As I’ve blogged before, copywriting is not simply the technique of packaging your message in an appealing way or being entertaining in order to gain attention. What needs to lie beneath each word is the intention of creating business – driving people towards making a decision to trust you and to buy into your services.
But what can you do to keep your copywriting approach is as business-focused as it is creative?
Refine your voice
Is your tone of voice aimed more at being fun and quirky than at speaking in an appealing way to your ideal customers? In some cases, quirky is exactly what you need. In others, a more formal style is the best one to go with. While it’s great to aim to capture attention, don’t do it at the expense of your credibility – or at the risk of sounding like everybody else. Copywriting for business is not just about vocabulary. It’s about finding the just right voice, whether that’s formal, understated, bold or something else.
Relevance in every word
Effective copywriting goes so much further than picking one word over another. Drive yours along by being careful to select the messages that matter. Matching creativity with business focus helps to keep your marketing content relevant. But more than that, being both creative and business-orientated allows you to reinvent your take on your own business. Not only is your content refreshed by your creativity, it’s also well grounded in your marketing and business approach. Every word is focused on getting you closer to your goal, whether that’s taking people to a landing page or inspiring them to sign up to your newsletter.
At first sight
We’ve all seen them…the flyers that yell for attention, then disappoint when we look a little closer. Or the website home pages which promise so much and yet deliver, well, not a great deal (or perhaps no great deals). This is where a creative copywriting strategy alone can leave a company lacking long lasting credibility. At every stage, your creative approach needs the full backing of your business intentions. If you’re making a big bold claim at first sight, can you keep it consistent throughout your content? It’s important to aim for attention in copywriting. But if you start off by shouting, how much louder can your content actually get?
Hold it together
Fun is great. But when fun leads to your audience getting lost in the land of the warm and fuzzies, it can leave your business strategy behind. This applies to those websites that aim to be entertaining, but lose their connection to the benefits of a product – and those entertaining blog posts which completely overlook the business behind them. Fun is a big part of copywriting and content marketing. But don’t let it distract from your core business aims.
The secret to taking your content beyond the creative
Like many things in life, the secret to keeping your content both creative and business-focused is to find a balance. How to do this? Stop looking them as separate approaches. Apart, they are important. Combined, they’re a force that can transform your business message.
Want to chat more about this or other copywriting questions? Let me know!
Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, November 2011
If I had to define the heart of copywriting, I’d say that it lies in saying what needs to be said in a distinctive, fresh and relevant way. But how do you gain that viewpoint upgrade when you’re a business-owner and very close to your subject?
The key is to step back and look again at your business – from a new angle. Here are just a few great reasons to reinvent your perspective:
1. Convert cliché to cool
Just one of the many advantages of approaching your topic from a different angle is that it helps you to avoid the clichés that will keep your content sounding safe and familiar. When you think differently, you tend to communicate in different ways too. This will help your copywriting approach stay more up to date and alive.
2. Turn the new into more content views
Many businesses are familiar territory. We all think we know what an accountant does, or a building supplies company…or a dog walking business…but when we take a new view on a topic that’s close to us, we discover new ways of telling the world what’s important about it. Cut through the familiar and you’re much more likely to define yourself from your competition.
3. Enjoy a tone of voice upgrade
When you stay with the same viewpoint, you tend to stay with the same style. A new view on your business can throw up some really interesting possibilities for your tone of voice. Look again and you’ll probably find there are some great new ways to talk about what you do. Instead of the factual and the familiar, perhaps it’s time to enjoy the benefits of a voice that is warmer and more about your audience than about you.
4. See it from the other side
A great way to update your copywriting approach is to stop thinking so hard about your business and try to see how your market views it. Look again at what’s really important about what you do – from your customers’ perspective. This will give you the fresh perspective to uncover what it is that makes your product or service of value to others
5. Stay up to date
Are you really selling all that your business has to offer – or are you just telling an out of date story? Stepping back can help you look past the limits of your own customary way of looking at and talking about your business.
6. Speak humanese
Sticking with the same old view could be keeping something crucial out of your copywriting approach – the the human touch. Stay with the same view of your subject and you can end up hiding away the heart of your business. When you change your perspective on your topic, you can transform over-familiar robot-speak into content that reaches people.
7. Clarify the business benefits
There’s a conversation I’ve had with business-owners many, many times. It’s the one where I ask them what’s special about their business. And they tell me that they don’t know (although they really do). Scrutinising your product or service from a fresh angle can help you uncover – and define in your content – what is important about your business.
8. Fit your format
When we stay with the same old story, stale is more likely to take over. So too for our copywriting approach. Stepping back can completely refresh the way you convey your marketing message, whether it’s for a blog post, a tweet or a client proposal. Change your angle and you can create more flexibility in the way you see – and write about – your business.
9. Bring humour back
A sad thing happens when we hold on to an outdated view of a topic. We tend to lose humour and emotional impact when we write about. Drop your familiar view and you’ll probably start to find more humorous (if that’s appropriate, of course) or more inviting ways to talk about what you do.
10. Reinvent the everyday
It’s simple. Reinventing your view on a subject allows you to reinvent what you say about it. I should know. I’ve written for some sectors many times over. But what I love is the challenge of taking a new view each time to uncover what is uniquely special about that product or service. Each new take on a topic is an opportunity to see and state that subject in a whole new way.
Not found your new perspective yet?
Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, November 2011
Your copywriting questions answered on video 57 days ago
As a copywriter, I’m all for the power of written content. However, it seems a shame to overlook the many great videos out there on copywriting and connected topics. Whether you want to enjoy more of a response from your website, understand how content marketing works or just luxuriate in the joy of daft words, here for your viewing pleasure is a small selection of content-related videos:
1. What’s the advantage of the story in content marketing?
This is a good, easily digestible overview of the power of the story in content marketing and a look at why content marketing is not so new after all.
2. Looking for a better copywriting and content marketing approach?
Wish you could get more from your own content marketing approach? Here are some good practical tips with a clear focus on quality over quantity, both in terms of copywriting and strategy.
3. Want your website to work harder?
Writing for the web? Top 3 Web Copywriting Tips gives a great overview of the importance of following the F pattern and more. It’s a useful guide to essential techniques for getting more from your
4. How can blogging give my business a competitive edge?
Still wondering about the benefits of blogging for your business? Not sure how to fit a blog into your overall content strategy? This snippet from a US TV programme gives a good overview of the benefits of blogging for your business, such as better SEO, more profile and other advantages.
5. Wish you could weave these words into your content?
Well, you may not be able to include spanghew or axinomancy into your copywriting strategy, but this video is good fun with a quick look at the top ten bizarre words for 2013 (annoying music warning: I recommend you listen to this with audio turned off!). And if you do manage to get those words into your own marketing content, do let me know…
Like more ideas on updating your copywriting approach? Get in touch for a chat!
How do I create my company's tone of voice? 64 days ago
Tone of voice. It’s a familiar term in copywriting for business. But what’s the best way to start finding the right tone of voice for your brand? Once upon a time, tone of voice in copywriting was important to big brands….
More than just a friendly voice
…Now it’s important to businesses of all shapes, sizes and goals. Why? Because tone of voice goes way beyond making a company sound fun or approachable. You could describe it as the strategic application of a house style to define yourself in your market…or you could just say that it’s a great way to make yourself more memorable.
Either way, I hear a lot of business-owners asking about how to achieve the right tone of voice in copywriting. I’ve only seen that increase over the 10+ years I’ve been copywriting for business. Here are some starting points to help you find your own tone of voice:
Put flesh on your marketing personas
Not got your marketing personas in place yet? Your marketing personas are the first step in planning your copywriting tone of voice because they give you a clearer steer on who you’re planning your copywriting strategy around. Work out who you want to write for and think about the style that will work for them. Are your ideal clients busy people with limited time or aspirational types who want to feel nurtured? All these kinds of insights will help create a copywriting approach with a more clearly defined tone of voice.
Drop the habit
Developing a tone of voice means stepping aside from your usual style of writing and habitual ways of talking about what you do. Look at all the options available to you. Which specific styles would work for your industry? Which tone of voice could set you apart from your competitors? What differences can you build into your content? Here’s an example of how tone of voice helped a company to speak more powerfully to its target audience.
Unearth the right qualities
Think about how you want to be seen, then aim to convey those qualities in writing. Want to be viewed as authoritative? Opt for clear, formal sentences. Need to be recognised as an innovator? Look at how to combine the quirky with the credible. (Read an example of upgrading a company tone of voice here). Match the qualities valued by your ideal customers with your own copywriting style. Then make sure that it’s consistent across all your content (more on that later on).
Go back for more insight
It’s great to keep your copywriting approach up to date. But don’t miss out on the insight you can gain from looking back at past content. Take a closer look at the marketing copy that has worked for you and ask yourself why. Did a specific blog post create a better response? Did a particular email encourage more interest? Look closely at the tone of voice and copywriting style you used there and see what elements you can bring to your strategic tone of voice.
Don’t be afraid to be yourself
It may seem tempting to take on a whole new persona for your copywriting tone of voice. But you risk losing yourself in the process. If it’s your business, you want your website, your brochure, your blog, whatever it is, to sound like you. You want your copywriting approach to match who you are. So be sure to develop a tone of voice that fits with you, whether that’s informal, laid back, formal, energetic, or something else. In my role as ghost blogger, I’ve been working with an organisation (can’t name names!) to create blog content that reflects the personality of its owner as well as appealing to the interests of its members. My focus was on keeping the blog content true to my client’s character. It seems to have worked, judging by the feedback she’s received.
Build in the story
People love stories. So don’t overlook yours in your copywriting and tone of voice strategy. Find what’s appropriate and what you feel comfortable sharing and bring it to life. An example might be what inspired to start your business. Build that into your web content. Sharing it as part of your company introduction will help give your tone of voice a more distinctive edge. Read more about how I approached this for one of my clients here.
As I’ve blogged before, consistency is a valuable part of copywriting. Be sure to keep your tone of voice consistent across your marketing content once you’ve established your own particular style. Set dates to review it and check that all copy that goes out with your message is on-message.
Finding your tone of voice?
“What’s the point of putting a personal spin on my content?”
This was a real question I was asked recently by a business-owner. I’m still surprised by the lingering misconception that copywriting is simply about creating content which reads well and is grammatically correct. As I’ve blogged before, it’s a view which misses the whole point of copywriting for business. In this conversation, my contact couldn’t see the value of having individual, unique marketing content.
Missing the point?
Most of us understand the value of content in connecting with customers through a copywriting strategy. But many people still miss the point of content with a spin which is uniquely theirs. An example of this is the enewsletter which is not only branded to match a company, but which has a distinctive tone of voice and a clear message. Just this week I have received enewsletters from two businesses. In both, the newsletter itself was nicely designed and branded, but the content lacked any individual spark or personality. So in response to the question above, my answer is this:
People buy from people. I know that that’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Those people are still making a choice about whether they buy into you, even in your content and your copywriting approach. If there’s no real personality for them to connect with, they’re less likely to make a valuable emotional association with your product or service.
Spot the expert
Why bother to make your content more personal? Well, one big driver in the content marketing revolution is about raising your profile as an expert through your copywriting approach. But how can you achieve this without having a personal and individual spin in your content? If you go for generic content, you lose all the value of your experience and knowledge – and so does your audience. Go more personal and you grow important links between your brand and public perception of your expertise.
Value the difference
Putting the personal into your copywriting approach is what highlights the difference between you and other businesses out there. By opting for generic content, you risk sounding very similar to other companies. Similar equals less memorable which of course equals less reason for your audience to respond to your content…When you find and communicate what makes you different, you make yourself distinctive – giving you a distinct advantage in your market. One example of this is an accountancy company in Nottingham who were looking for a more entertaining tone of voice. The copywriting approach we developed to give their content more personality has had great feedback from customers.
What’s more compelling – a blank face or a big smile? That’s the equivalent of the difference between well written, but bland content and a copywriting approach that builds in your personality. Even when content is well-written, it can still lack that something special. Factual, clear, simple…that’s all fine. But as human beings, we can’t help reacting to some character, to the evidence of a personality. Building your personality into your copywriting approach helps to create a response. Of course, it needs to be done appropriately and carefully, but you’ll make your copywriting strategy much more effective in the long-run.
Keeping your content personal has another important advantage. If you carefully plan your personal spin within your copywriting approach, you’ll naturally encourage a more direct relationship with your target audience. Your tone of voice, your calls to actions and other aspects of your content will work much more effectively at creating a connection with your audience.
Time to get personal?
Like to look at ways to make your own copywriting approach more personal? Let me know!