It happened again.
I was at an event. The person in charge asked about my role and my business. I told him I was a copywriter, writing all kinds of content for businesses in Nottingham, the East Midlands and further afield.
His response? “Ah, so you’ll be watching out for spelling mistakes in our presentation!”
There it was again.
The old misconception. The one I’ve heard many times over the years I’ve been creating content for business: the one which says copywriting is pretty much about having no typos. Of course, that is an important part of it. But in a way, it is the very last part of the copywriting stage.
Saying that copywriting is just for good spelling is like saying that going mountaineering is simply about enjoying a great view.
While there’s no doubt that poor spelling will drag your content down, what about everything else involved with making it a success?
Good spelling is one thing but transforming information into content that people actually want to read is something else.
Copywriting. It’s about a lot more than A to Z.
Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, September 2017
4 ways to get the best from your copywriter 55 days ago
Trust is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? There’s nothing like the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from handing over a piece of work and knowing it will done on time and on budget. That warm glow should also apply to working with a copywriter. But what’s the best way to make sure your copywriting project comes out at its best, with both you and your copywriter happy with the end result? Here are four tips to keep in mind for ensuring that your copy is started – and completed – with trust on both sides.
Tip 1. Give your copywriter the full picture
Your copywriter should be keen to get to know you and what you’re about. Think of it as a special mission you’re working on together. OK, there are no top-secret assignations, but there are some important conversations. And there are (usually) no special dossiers, but there is the all-important overview of what you want. This is your time to fully brief your copywriter, about the part they have to play in your communications. The information you give them will form the basis of your copy. So, come as prepared as you can!
Your copywriter should ask you plenty of questions about your aims for your copy. Are you looking to promote a particular message, wanting to create a new tone of voice for your business or hoping to reach out to more distant potential clients? Let your copywriter know exactly what you’re after. Bring along examples, ideas and random thoughts, even if they’re scribbled on the back of an envelope (I always tell my clients that too much information is better than too little). A clear brief is great. But the best bit is getting the copywriting project in context.
Tip 2. Check your copywriter is on the same page as you
Singing from the same hymn sheet, talking the same language – however you say it, it boils down to the same thing. Does your copywriter get it? Are they clear about what you want your copy to achieve? Do they have a full overview of your aims and ambitions for your content? This is all part of the crucial first stage. Are you hearing the kinds of questions you would expect to hear? Is your copywriter mirroring your thoughts back to you, but also asking revealing little questions that get you thinking about your copy in a new way? This is all good. You need to feel like you and your copywriter are on the same side.
Tip 3. Keep the boundaries clear with your copywriter
According to the experts, a healthy relationship needs clear boundaries. Your interaction with your copywriter is no different! This could be the basis of a great future of working together. Right from the start, you and your copywriter should establish clear boundaries around expectations for the project. This is vital for issues such as timescales and costs. Check that your copywriter has given you a clear schedule for the arrival of your copy. Get this conversation going as early as possible to keep your project on track. However, this is the real world and priorities don’t always stay the same. If there are any sudden changes to what you want from your copy – or when you need it – let your copywriter know as soon as possible.
Tip 4. Keep communicating with your copywriter
So you now have a satisfactory, well rounded relationship with your copywriter! Great! But don’t lose out on all that useful knowledge once the project is over. Your copywriter has spent time really getting to know you and your business. They’ve developed a keen sense of your priorities for your communications. Make the most of them! Keep in touch with your copywriter. After all, they have both an inside and an outside perspective on what makes you and your business tick.
The four questions to keep in mind
For more joy with every copywriting project, just ask yourself these questions:
• Does your copywriter have the full picture of you and your aims?
• Is your copywriter really speaking the same language as you?
• Are the boundaries clear between you and your copywriter?
• Are you making the most of your copywriter’s insight into your business?
Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, August 2017
Green Light Copywriting is 14! 80 days ago
14 years! What a lot of interesting things I’ve seen in that time as a copywriter.
So much has changed in content and copywriting since Green Light Copywriting first set up in business. Social media barely existed and mobile phones were still things you actually used for phone calls and just occasionally for texting. Blogging? Content marketing? They were yet to come for most businesses. Who knows what content opportunities and challenges the future will bring.
I love getting to work with so many great clients. Thank you for your loyalty and support. Here’s to the next 14 years…
Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, July 2017
20 content habits to drop 108 days ago
A core copywriting truth is that staying visible means staying valued. But there are many routes to fading fast in the quick moving marketing landscape we’re all part of now. Like your content to be noticed? Avoid these 20 errors…
1. Stick with what you’ve got
I’ve seen this many times. Companies work hard to apply a copywriting approach to their marketing. Then they leave it…for months, even years. For a great way to fade from view, just keep re-using the same old content and copywriting approach.
2. Ignore your market
We’re all busy. It’s all too easy to let market changes pass you by when you’re striving to make your business grow. But losing sight of what’s happening in your industry could cost you serious profile.
3. Overlook new copywriting advances
These are very interesting times for copywriting. Not only are new marketing channels emerging, but the way people respond to content is evolving to match. Now is definitely not the time to dismiss new and more flexible ways to reach your audience.
4. Let one aspect of your business decide your copywriting strategy
A focused copywriting approach can do much more for your business than you might think. Yet many companies out there are still only addressing their content around one aspect of their business – drawing in leads through their website or connecting with dormant clients via email marketing, for example. Looking to fade out? Keep your content limited to just one aspect of your business.
5. Use the same old message
It’s great to find a message that works for you, one that combines all that’s great about your company and how you can help your prospects. But it’s never a good idea to get too comfortable with it. Marketing and markets are changing all the time. If you want to get left behind, stick with what’s familiar and never question it.
6. Keep your content generic
Prefer to disappear into the background? Take the view that your content just needs to be well written. Nothing else. Leave personality, expertise and your company’s special qualities out of your copywriting approach. Don’t worry about being memorable and distinctive in your marketplace. Just use bland content that makes you sound the same as everyone else.
7. Cold shoulder new opportunities
As I said earlier, we’re all busy people. But hanging on to what you’ve always done is a really good way to become invisible. Don’t need your marketing to get noticed? Easy. Just stand back from new ways to use content to capture attention.
8. See content as an optional extra
With the power of content conversations and conversion on the rise, it’s surprising how many companies still choose to fade away. This is because they somehow see content as something extra that they can be tack onto their overall business approach at a later date. Keep your copywriting approach at the core of your company strategy to stay visible.
9. Rely on stock phrases
This one links back to point 6, but I’m happy to repeat an important point. Using stock phrases is often what’s most familiar and easy for a business and that’s understandable. But those common words and clichés can help to blur your business presence on the web and elsewhere.
10. Constantly change your mind about what works
Now, I know I said it was important not to cold shoulder new opportunities. But that needs to be balanced with building a plan. It’s great to test out an approach to see if it actually supports your marketing plan, for example a new style of newsletter content or a more creative blog approach. But don’t neglect to set clear boundaries for this and to build it into a coherent plan. Consistency is a powerful quality in the battle to get noticed.
11. React and adapt to one marketing channel, but not the others
It happens all the time. A company excitedly leaps ahead with one marketing channel, for example a new brochure. But funnily enough, the rest of their content still shares the old message. Going back to my previous point, when you’re looking at refreshing one aspect of your content, be sure to assess what might need to change with the rest.
12. Let in-house jargon rule
Jargon doesn’t win new business. Expertise does. So why do so many businesses still rely on industry-speak when they’re trying to reach their customers? Of course, some jargon has to be used sometimes, but there are ways to do this without shutting out the very people you’d like to draw in.
13. Keep it all about you
Love to merge into the background? Ironically, shouting loudly all about ‘you you you’ can have that exact effect. Whether it’s your website home page or your brand new brochure, content that’s all about you ignores an essential opportunity – your chance to pinpoint the problem your prospect would like you to resolve.
14. Don’t look back
Things move fast. It’s tempting to get your content in place just once and leave it there. But as we’ve already seen, the way we reach people is changing every day. To start to fade fast, simply stop looking back at your content and don’t bother thinking about how your ideal audience responds to it.
15. Do it piecemeal
It’s natural to want to address problems as they come up, whether it’s an outdated Contact Us web page or a tired exhibition brochure. But when you deal only with the immediate problem, you overlook the opportunity to refresh your whole approach. It’s also likely to end up costing you more time and effort in the long run. Are you comfortable with a copywriting process with more fade than flavour? Simply change things piecemeal without keeping a perspective on your complete strategy.
16. Ignore the commercial value of content
In case you missed it, there’s a content revolution going on….content marketing, agile marketing, personalised marketing…leading companies have cottoned onto the power of content to build relationships and business in a big way. Happy to be left behind? Underestimate the commercial power of your own content.
17. Separate your content cycle from your sales process
People are still sometimes surprised when I put content and sales strategy in the same sentence. Even though they know copywriting can help drive sales and build audiences, they still don’t always recognise how content can support and inform their salespeople. Keep these two in separate boxes if you want to limit the potential of versatile, targeted content to reach the right people at the right time.
18. Speak the same way to everyone
Not many companies have one particular type of customer. Not many companies have customers who all buy into their product or service at the same stage and with the same motivation. So why do so many companies still use the very same tone of voice and copywriting approach for all the different people they want to reach? OK with being ignored by some of your ideal prospects? Simply speak the same way to all of them, regardless of their particular pains.
19. Make it impersonal
Sadly, content is still sometimes seen as just a way to fill the gaps. Yet those same 400 or 1000 words are an opportunity to get into the heads of the people that matter. Linked to my point above, it’s easy to fade to grey if you see your audience as one faceless mass which only requires a single generic message.
20. Ignore the conversation
Conversation is a very powerful thing. But the vital thing in all good conversation, as one of my friends always liked to say, is not to transmit, but to receive. So, a great route to getting ignored is to forget to listen. That way you can ignore what’s happening with your potential clients and create content that answers your questions, not theirs.
We’re all busy people. And that means copywriting for your organisation can end up taking second or third place to focusing on your core activities. Yet the conversations I’ve had over the years with managers and owners of many companies have only strengthened my view of copywriting as a crucial catalyst for every type of organisation. Here are six reasons:
1. The bigger picture
The copywriting conversation frequently starts small and ends big. This is because the detail required for the copywriting process demands clarity on strategy. Copywriting proves to be a catalyst in many cases because it pushes people into looking more closely at their priorities for the future. How can you verbalise your approach if you aren’t clear on where you want to be heading in the next few years? What questions do you need to be asking? In this way, copywriting frequently becomes an important starting point for organisations, instead of simply an end in itself.
2. Staying connected
A copywriting project can often turn out to be just what it seems – a clear cut, one-off project. But at other times it demands an interconnected approach to link it with the rest of an organisation’s marketing strategy. Seems obvious, yet it’s a thing that can often be overlooked. This is why you see companies with a clear message in their website copy that seems to fight against what’s being said in their brand new customer brochure. It can confuse the choices that customers make. Done right, the copywriting process helps to encourage a clear and consistent connection with a company’s overall marketing message – or to adapt and evolve from it, if growth and innovation is part of that company’s game plan.
3. Looking back
In basic terms, the copywriting process can appear straightforward. But with some information missing, it gets more complicated. Either way, copywriting to represent and sell an organisation also involves looking back. However, far forward you want to move, you need to be clear on the messages you communicate about your past and what this says to your ideal audience. This is why it is so valuable to have this insight close by at the start of the copywriting process. It cuts down on the questions (and the soul searching) within an organisation about what they so want to say about their past – and how this will help them get to where they want to be in the future.
4. Take stock
In my experience, companies often require copywriting projects to be completed at high speed. Understandably, they want copy that meets their strategy as quickly as possible. Put there’s often a brief, but clear pause along the way – the one that comes when we discuss where it is exactly they want to be going. What will this copy actually be reaching towards? Sometimes this is clear cut. At other times, a complex conversation ensues. The copywriting process proves to be a catalyst for questions about exactly who these messages are for and how they should fit with the company’s marketing style.
5. Find the message
Companies usually know what they stand for and what is important to them. But the copywriting process often proves to be the catalyst that brings it out into the light. Even a website rewrite or the CEO’s introduction to the new company newsletter can prove to be part of a transition in which attitudes and aspirations that are clear within the organisation are externalised for the first time. This has an impact on your choice of tone of voice and the messages you want to share. In this way, the copywriting process can actively help to turn attitudes held within an organisation into a clear message to the world.
6. Clarify priorities
The copywriting process often turns out to be an important catalyst for clarifying a company’s priorities. Is the main website copy the most important thing to update first if the customer email updates aren’t getting the response you need? It’s surprising how often a copywriting project can inspire a whole range of questions. What are the priorities for what a particular company wants to say? What needs addressing first? What will have the biggest impact?
Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, May 2017