Here’s a question: when was the last time a piece of business writing – whether copy on a website, an advertising campaign or a press release – really grabbed your attention?
There are some great examples of those kinds of writing and more out there. But equally, it’s also very easy to turn your readers off in a few lines (words, even) and make them snore.
So, what’s the secret of great writing? In a nutshell – don’t be boring!
A professional copywriter will always find ways of engaging customers, staff members, the media or whoever their audience is. One of the worse marketing crimes is when some of your communication goes unnoticed and uncommented on. That means your creative efforts have been wasted.
But don’t despair; here are five tips to packing your copy with punch:
1. Be more interesting! Not as easy as it first sounds, as you may think what your company does doesn’t sound remotely interesting to the wider world. Well, there is always a way of making it so. You manufacture paperclips? Why not add a fun fact-file about paperclips into your copy. For example, how many paperclips would it take to stretch from the Earth to the Moon? Or what is the most unusual use a paperclip has been put to? The possibilities are endless.
2. Be succinct. Particularly when writing for the web. The advice is: write your article as briefly as possible. Then cut out half of the words left. Readers are put off by too much text. And readers don’t read text on websites the same way that they do in printed formats. Online, time is precious.
3. Think visually. Work with a good graphic designer. Whether for digital or print, great imagery and imaginative visual concepts will work wonders in getting your point across persuasively. The copywriter should help generate these ideas, too. Did the phrase “pack a punch” above spark any visual ideas in your mind?
4. Think like your customers. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in your organisation’s own achievements and internal narrative. Yes, you’re proud that your company was founded 137 years ago and you have eight directors on your board. But what does that tell your customer – someone whose interest is likely to be fleeting at best? So, be harsh and apply what journalists call the “so what?” test on key statements in your copy. When presented with the latest gushing news release, editors and journalist will ask themselves if this is newsworthy. Is it really an interesting and unusual achievement and worthy of their readers’ or listeners’ attention?
5. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Who is your audience? Think of your customer as a real individual with a personality; likes and dislikes; a job; children (perhaps) and a mortgage. Of course you’re aware they have these things. But try building up a profile of a typical customer or a range of customers. What would grab them and spark their interest? What words or images would turn them off – or bore them? Give your fictional customer a name if it helps. And cut to the chase in your writing. That way they will be interested, certainly wide awake – and even hungry to hear more from you.
Associate at SindyB Communications Ltd and a freelance copywriter at Bennettwords