I can’t quite believe it but yes this is my 100th blog post?! I started blogging two years ago and absolutely love it. I find it fantastic for reflection, great for deepening my knowledge and, some days, it can be very cathartic.
I wrote a couple of introductory posts and then my first ‘proper’ post was about ‘Why good copy makes good business sense‘ …and it is funny how some things don’t change!!!
The original blog post was a little short and poorly formatted, but the main points still stand. So, here’s a bit of an update…with a few more headings!
How your copy represents you
“What I want you to think about is simply how the words (or copy, as we call it) that you use are a presentation of yourself and your business.” – Feb 2017
If you saw a poorly designed leaflet, an instruction guide written badly or an advertisement which didn’t make sense you would make a lot of assumptions about the quality of the company and a product or service they offer. This is no different when it comes to the copy you write – what it says, how it is crafted and what you choose to say makes a big impact. And the better something is written the bigger the positive impact.
Now, I don’t think generally people mind if you stick up a Facebook or Instagram post containing a typo or a sentence that doesn’t quite make sense, but on your website, blog or newsletter especially, I think this will be taken more seriously. And if you have the time to schedule posts then why not give them the extra proofread they deserve?
Good copy is worth the time and effort
“Content that is poorly written, repetitive and boring simply will not do…” – www.returnonnow.com, 2017
This is so true…even 100 posts later! It still frustrates me that business owners do not take digital content as seriously as print media. Why is that a leaflet or poster will be seen as something to spend money and time on, yet a website or social media page will just be created and forgotten about, with hardly a second check through just because it doesn’t have a printing cost. These tools are probably your main forms of marketing and, more importantly, the one that is likely to reach the largest audience. Invest in it. Spend time on it. Be creative.
As I said back in 2017, just because a website, newsletter or blog is ‘instantly’ published, it still deserves the same sort of rigorous checking. Any publication are adverts and should be the best, most high quality representation of your business. Hard to read paragraphs, with lengthy sentences, and unclear, inconsistent messages, immediately stop potential clients getting hooked in and exploring further. On a website, your ‘bounce rate’ will be incredibly high if your copy is complex or hard to follow, which in turn will affect your search engine rating. So, it really is worth some effort and working on improvements.
What does your copy say about you?
It is hard to communicate with clients or customers directly and personally, so your copy has to be crafted to ensure it really ‘touches’ target audience.
“Spelling errors and badly formed sentences don’t reflect well on your business – everything you write is ‘saying something’ about you.” – Feb 2017
As I stated back in my ‘early days’, advertising guru, Shirley Polykoff, is quoted as saying, “copy is a direct conversation with the customer”. So think about it…how would you speak to your customers? What would you want them to know? How would you like them to think of you – warm, friendly, knowledgeable, experienced? How can you reflect this in your copy?
I still stand by the the importance of understanding the negative effect of missing errors…taking it to the extreme, a potential client may see errors and think ‘well if they can’t be bothered to check what they’ve written before they put it online, will they be bothered to check the quality of the product I order from them before they send it to me?’. Grammatical errors and typos actually bother a lot of people…even if they make mistakes in their own Facebook posts all of the time. From a business, they expect more. It is about understanding this expectation – that as a business the copy you create has to be superior.
This does not mean you have to be overly formal or use complex terminology…it is about simply using copy which works hard for you and represents you in the best light possible.
Four quick tips from 2017 and one more for 2019
So how can you make sure you create ‘good copy’ – here are five really snappy tips to help you get started:
- Keep content short and to the point – what are you trying to say? Simply say it…don’t get wrapped up in explanations and long sentences.
- Use clear titles and subheadings to help frame what you are writing. It will add structure to any copy and guide readers, especially when they initially ‘scan read’.
- Include keywords your potential clients will be scanning for – what questions can you answer? What will be their main reason for reading your copy? Make sure you are creating copy which is helpful.
- Take your time and proofread what you have written. Read it out loud to yourself – is every sentence clear, simple and error free? It is really hard to check your own work, so, if possible, get someone else to read it through.
- Do your research – your copy will improve if you have done some research and really understand your target audience and their needs, as well as their expectations, in terms of formality, tone, depth and style.
A fresh pair of eyes
Whether it is website copy, your latest blog post or an email marketing campaign, there is nothing like a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to help improve your copy, especially someone outside of your profession. Most copy needs to be understood by someone with limited knowledge of your industry (that’s why they are coming to use your services!) but writing as if you have no knowledge of your field or products can be incredibly difficult. Many things your ideal client is desperate to know just seems so obvious to you that you wouldn’t even think of writing it down!
Use an editor or copywriter to help you identify the gaps in your copy, as well make recommendations to improve the impact of the words you write. Make your copy the best it can be…make it work hard for your business. If you need my help, please just get in touch.
“…ensure your online representation of your amazing small business is not let down by poorly checked, uncared for copy!” – Feb, 2017