What stops you writing effective marketing copy?
How exactly is effective marketing copy different from run-of-the-mill copy? Most of our clients are sold on the idea of content marketing as a key sales driver. Knowing this and actually achieving it are two different things. Many find that what they’ve written just doesn’t hit the mark. Following up on our recent post about planning effective content, Accredited Consultant, Kara Stanford now takes you through the simple tweaks that turn passable copy into good copy. ~ Bryony Thomas
At the heart of good marketing is effective marketing copy
In an age of multiple marketing tools, I’d argue that the written word is still king.
There are lots of great blogs, courses, podcasts, and so on, about how to structure a piece of copy. They will tell you how to tell an interesting story or how to write that eye-catching title. This knowledge is wasted if you do not know how to write succinctly and clearly.
You know something is written well if you can:
- understand its meaning,
- quickly identify the key points, and;
- easily recall them later.
But, it all starts in your head. We need to remove any mental blocks you might have that are stopping you writing great marketing copy.
What stops you writing better copy?
I’ve run several workshops on how to write for marketing. The people in the room have, typically, written degree level essays and hundreds of business reports. This means they can already write. Within these groups, I always encounter people with beliefs that stop them writing brilliant copy:
- “I can write well already”
- “It’s impossible to explain a complex concept without using lots of words”
- “I’m writing the way I speak, as that’s part of my brand”
- “I don’t understand grammar”
and one that isn’t often said out loud, but which I bump into a lot, is:
- “The more words I use, and the longer they are, the more important I’ll sound”.
STOP! These beliefs are holding you back from being a great writer…
Let’s tackle them head on.
“I can write well already”
Good! If your grammar and spelling is spot on, you have the basics firmly in place. However, this is not about grammar and spelling; it’s about adapting your use of written language to fit the job it has to do.
“It’s impossible to explain a complex concept without using lots of words”.
Not true. The more complex the concept, the better it is to be succinct and straightforward in each sentence. Complex concepts need a skilled writer, so they can explain them without losing people’s interest, and also ensure people still understand it all.
“I’m writing the way I speak; that’s part of my brand”
Partly true. It is important that there should be no dramatic difference between what they read on the page and what they hear from your people. But, it’s a different tool. When you speak, your audience has the benefit of your tone of voice, volume, use of pauses, and, if we can see you, body language. Audiences of the written language just have the words of the page in front of them. Yes, you can write informally, you can use slang, jargon and humour (or the opposite if that is how you speak) but you have to adapt it all for the written language.
“I don’t understand grammar”
That’s fine. Grammar is just a way of explaining how a sentence is structured, using a common language. Unless you are planning a career as a copywriter, you need to know enough about grammar to get the result you want. I regularly use a screwdriver; I’m pretty sure the cross-head one is called a Philips screwdriver but, hey, it doesn’t matter. I can use it to do the job I need it to do, regardless of what it’s called.
“The more words I use, and the longer they are, the more important I’ll sound”
Definitely not true. Choosing the right words shows that you are in control. Too many unnecessary words make you look self-important, waffling and unsure. Crucially, you could lose your audience’s interest. Finally, it’s disrespectful as you’re assuming someone has time to wade through your copy and find the relevant points. They don’t.
Stop being happy with passable copy. Notch it up to good copy!
Think: “Language is a tool that can be learned. The written language is a tool in its own right. I can master this tool.”
© Kara Stanford
By Kara Stanford – Watertight Marketing Accredited Consultant. Kara is a strategic marketing consultant based in Hampsire. She works with ambitious business who aren’t satisfied with being ‘good enough’. See Kara’s full profile
Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @KaraKMS