Category Archives: copywriting

Why good English is good business – copywriting

How good is your English copy?

How good is your English copy?

If you’re trying to appeal to an English audience, but using non-native English speakers to write your website content, blog posts, leaflets or tweets, you are almost certainly putting off customers.

Not only is it always glaringly obvious, but you risk really annoying the very people you want to impress. I’ve lost count of the number of websites I’ve come across in Switzerland with less than perfect English. International copywriting is all about talking to your potential customers in their language – to make them relate to your company, product or services, not to make them want to take out a red pen.

Show some respect

First impressions count. Your content is often your potential customer’s first point of contact with your company. So, having a website or brochure with less than perfect, readable and engaging English is like having a receptionist chewing gum at the front desk. It’s an insult to your customer.

Research by Global Lingo showed that 59% of Britons would not buy from a company with grammar or spelling mistakes on its website or marketing materials.

So, is translation the answer?

A good translation by a professional is a step in the right direction, but if you’ve been marketing to a German or French market and now want to target an English audience, you need a different approach. A copywriter’s job is to take into account cultural differences and really understand the audience and what would appeal to them, because let’s face it, these cultures are very different! What might be funny to an English reader, could offend a potential German customer. You don’t want to get it wrong.

Google punishes bad English and spelling mistakes 

Your search rankings will be affected if your keywords or keyword phrases are incorrect. Google rewards quality content – which includes good grammar and style.

Of course, international copywriting isn’t only about grammar and spelling. To find out how to write copy that sells, read my previous blog post for some tips to get your started.

If you’re worried about putting off potential customers because of bad writing or uninspiring copy, contact me for a FREE assessment of your website or other marketing materials today.

Questions to ask your website designer

Screen shot of web design page

How to choose the right website designer for you

Your business needs a website – but how do you find the right website designer for you? Your site should be one of your main marketing tools, so don’t take this decision lightly.

Read my cautionary tale about rogue website designers out there – and the 8 questions you MUST ask a website designer before signing on the dotted line.

The blog post appears on the Talented Ladies Club website here.

If you don’t – you may end up spending a fortune for a website that doesn’t do what you want it to do – or finding yourself being held ransom by a developer who doesn’t want to hand over control of your site. Be warned!

But of course, that doesn’t mean all website designers are out to rip you off. Many are great and will do a good job – but knowing what to look out for is the only way to find the right designer for you.

Writing copy that sells – 6 top tips

Book and pen

Writing copy that sells: Engage the reader

You’ve crafted what you thought was the perfect homepage, newsletter, blog or flyer – and you’re feeling pretty chuffed with yourself right now.

But it soon becomes clear that the only person who got excited about your masterpiece was you. So what are you doing wrong?

Good copywriting is not just putting words onto paper. Writing copy that sells is a skill that can make a real difference to your business.

The principles of good copywriting predate the Internet and apply to print and online text – the bottom line is – you’ve got to engage your reader!

Here are some copywriting tips to get you started:

  • Who is your customer? You can’t write anything worthwhile unless you know your customer. Think of some-one specific whose business you’re keen on getting and try to get into his or her head. Does he like Arsenal? Does she love expensive handbags? What makes them lose sleep? Call up a mental image of this person and imagine talking to him or her in the pub or over a coffee when you’re writing.
  • NEVER write for groups  Even if you’re writing something that you hope will be read by lots of people, you need to write as if you’re only ever going to have ONE reader. People switch off when they read phrases such as: “Many of you.” “Some of you.” They want to feel special.
  • Write the way you speak Lawyers and businesspeople often shake their heads at this point, assuring me that this type of writing doesn’t apply to their special customers. Not so. Even the wealthiest, snootiest potential customer is human and responds to good copy in an emotional way. There are not many people who’ll be persuaded to do something by someone who speaks as if he’d escaped from the pages of a Charles Dickens novel.
  •  Planning Before you reach for your laptop and start typing, take a piece of paper and a pen, pour yourself a glass of wine and jot down a plan for the blog post, newsletter, homepage, flyer. Start with a goal – what are you trying to achieve? Do you want your customer to call you, visit your online sales page or fill out a survey?
  • What do you want to say? Once you’ve nailed your goal, think about what it is you want to say – and here it’s important to think more about your reader’s needs rather than your own. So, you want your reader to know that you can sort out his finances? Think about how this will make life easier for him. For example, you could write: Do you want to spend more time on the tennis court or golf course and less time trying to stay on top of your finances? Why not let me take care of your finances, so you can work on your serve or improve your handicap.
  • Don’t forget a call to action  Tell your reader clearly what you want him or her to do now that you’ve persuaded them you’re the right person to contact. Link to your contact page or a page with more details of the offer you’ve talked about or the service you described.

I hope these tips will inspire you to experiment with your own copywriting – you’ll be amazed at the difference even these basic tips will make to your business communications.

Of course, if you’re rather be spending your time doing something else – why not let us help you work out who you want to talk to, what to say and how to write copy that sells.

Find out more about our new small business package here – designed to manage your online presence (and media presence if you need it) so you can focus on what you love to do.

Photo credit: Free Digital Photos.Net : Tiramisustudio

 

 

Get your name in the news: media relations tips

Mike Bailey-Gates / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

In my former life as a journalist, I’ve deleted and binned more press releases than I care to remember. The number of times I ended up interviewing a so-called ‘expert’ offered by a PR company can be counted on one hand.

Now that I’m on the other end of the table, my insight into the media and nose for news enable me to help entrepreneurs and small business owners to get noticed by the media – in a positive way of course.

These days everyone can write their own news on the internet, but writing an opinion piece or feature or getting quoted in a well-respected paper or website, is still one of the best ways of building your profile as a credible authority in your field.

Here are my tips for getting your name in the news

Think news first

Find something in your company, product, story that is newsworthy – not from your point of view, but from a journalist’s point of view.
If you can add a fresh angle to something that’s already in the news, you’re likely to find a willing ear.

For example, the day after a national survey about working mums’ guilt appeared in the media, I approached a parenting website on behalf of Inspired Mums, a career coach – offering a guest blog post with tips for working mums on how to banish the guilt – it got accepted straight away.

Find out what journalists are writing about on Twitter and engage in the conversation using topic hash tags. If they think you’ve got something worthwhile to add to the story, they’ll get in touch.
Offer stories about new trends in your industry, new ways of looking at things, different approaches, a look behind the scenes, but steer clear of promotional articles only designed to make you look good.

Lose the fluff and hype

Editors are no fools. If you’ve called your product or company “unique”, “world-renowned” or “leading”, your release is already in the trash folder.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve tried to explain to CEOs and PR people that journalists couldn’t care less about your core messages. They care about the news value of the story first and foremost. A story with a perfectly crafted core message but without news value – is a complete waste of time. Of course, once you’ve hooked them with a topical news angle, you need to get your message in there, but in a subtle, organic way.
If you understand this, you’re half way there.

Don’t expect them to do your job

Do NOT send information and photographs in the hope that the editor ‘will know what to do with it’.
They WILL know what to do with it, yes – they will delete it, because they have no more than two seconds to decide whether the email you sent is a story or not. If you haven’t told them what the story is, you’ve lost your chance.

A clear, well-written and persuasive two-line pitch explaining exactly what the story is about, why it is relevant and how it can be illustrated, has a much better chance of getting a look in.

Quality, well-written content

Once you have a bite, you can follow up with a crisp, concise article – answering all the obvious questions: Why, what, where, when and how and then include meaningful, non-salesy quotes from no more than three people. Offer up to three captioned photographs, good quality jpegs to choose from and links to your website and contact details for the people mentioned in the article.
Don’t expect the journalist to do research for you. Include relevant quotes and statistics and make sure they’re accurate!

Don’t send an attachment – include the press release in the body of your email.
Newsrooms are shrinking and if you can deliver a complete, ready-to-publish package on time – you’ll get the exposure you want – most of the time.

Respect deadlines

If an editor shows an interest in your story – be prepared to be interviewed or provide more information. Don’t switch off your mobile and go the gym or say you’re too busy when a journalist calls. Bad move. You won’t get asked again.
Similarly, if you pitch a guest blog post and you’re given a deadline, make sure you deliver on time, whatever happens. No one cares that your computer crashed or your babysitter was late. Make it happen.

Build a relationship

If your article or post is used in whatever way, send a quick thank you email or tweet. Don’t bombard the journalist with daily story suggestions, but do follow them on Twitter, read their stories or blogs and comment from time to time. They’ll be more open to your next, targeted and relevant pitch.

If all of this sounds too much like hard work, why not let me handle the media for you while you get on with the day job.
Contact me if you want help getting exposure in the media.

I can help boost your website traffic and build you profile through effective blogging and guest blogging too. Targeted, engaging website copy to help you meet your goals – I’m your girl.

Is your website content letting you down?

photograph of pair of glasses lying on an open page

Is your website easy on the eye?

You’ve forked out a small fortune for a shiny new website with bells and whistles and if you’re really switched on, you may even have a blog.

Now sit back and wait for the cash to roll in.
You may wait a long time. Much more likely is that not a single soul – apart from the odd porn spammer – will stumble across your site for months to come.

Before you reach deeper in your pocket for an expensive site upgrade, consider this:

Does your website answer the question foremost on your customer’s mind when sitting down in front of her computer? Does your website miraculously appear on Google results in answer to their question – in other words is your website content engaging and search-engine optimised? Do conversations on social media reel clients in to your site?

Even if you answer “yes” to all of the above, that’s just the start.

Is your content stopping your potential client in her tracks?

Is the content clear and explained in a way that does not insult the client’s intelligence, put him to sleep or annoy him with creepy sales talk?

If by the time your reader has reached as far as you’re reading now you’re doing well. If you lose him, he’ll bounce away into the virtual ether never to return.

5 ways to write SEO website content to get your business noticed

Know your customer and keywords

Who are you writing for – picture your ideal customer. What are they looking for? Use a free tool such as free Google AdWords keyword planner tool to find out what your ideal customer is likely to type into Google search. Now use those keywords in headings, subheadings and text on your site, but be subtle: Think flirting – you want to make your intentions clear in a playful way, not throw yourself at some unsuspecting suitor making them run for the hills.

Spread the word

No one will notice your business online, unless you tell them about it. Use social media to spread the word. A blog will help to give you fresh topics to talk about on social media. Join industry forums and take part in discussions, link back to your site. Guest blog (more on that later) on sites bigger than yours and link back to build your online profile.

Less is more

Keep your message simple and clear. The average time people spend reading a page online is said to be less than a minute – this varies of course, but the bottom line is: Not Very Long. Reward them for stopping by – with meaningful, concise, targeted content that makes them want to come back for more.

Be personal

Let your personality shine through. People like doing business with people. Don’t shy away from showing who you are on your website and social media – it will make your business seem more human. Obviously this is not the place to over-share your leather fetish or recreational drug habit, but don’t be afraid to let people know a bit about you.

Get a conversation going

The days of thrusting products in people’s faces and ramming advertising messages down their throats are over – especially online.
People in the digital age – respond to communication that is two-way and conversational.
Use your blog to talk to them about questions they have and offer solutions. Link to other pages on your site in the answer. Be open, generous and honest – and you’ll soon be seen as an expert in your field who’s worth listening to and buying from.

Of course good content can’t be the band-aid for bad design or poor business research, but if you’ve done your homework and have a good basic website (which doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg), the above content guidelines will get you off to a good start.

Your website is likely to be one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, communication tool in your tool kit. Get it right.

Subscribe to my newsletter below for more tips on getting your business noticed online or contact me if you need a seo copywriter to make your website work for your business.

Do you have other useful tips to add? I’d like to hear from you too.