Tag Archives: copywriting

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

 

 

Create engaging content – tips for businesses

A computer screen bursting open with engaging content

Engaging content grabs eyeballs

Something’s really been bugging you lately.
Every time you click on a local website or even some national news sites read by thousands of your potential customers, your competitor’s face pops up.
And you know for a fact that she is definitely not better, prettier or more intelligent than you.

So what is she doing that you’re not?
Most probably she (or someone on her behalf) has spent quite a bit of time and effort creating nifty blog posts offering advice, writing engaging guest posts about industry trends and chatting up potential customers on social media.

What is engaging content and how do you create it?
Engaging content grabs eyeballs or stops people in their tracks – it gets online readers to stop and then get involved – subscribe to your newsletter, enter your competition, fill in your survey, load something in their virtual basket, comment on your blog or contact you.

3 tips for creating engaging content

  • Have a plan:

A local council appointed an IT company to run their Facebook and Twitter accounts a year ago.  They’re axing the company’s services because the council’s not seen any engagement on these forums.
Well, I’m not surprised. Letting techies loose on the council’s target audience of local residents without any clear strategy linking to the council’s overall goals, is a complete waste of time.(and taxpayers’ money)
Social media is one tool in your company or organisation’s communications toolbox and it needs regular, engaging and planned content.

  •  Find stories about your company

I’m willing to bet that the council has a wealth of stories that would interest local residents. Maybe they’re fighting a controversial planning application that is ruffling feathers locally.
A lively blog post – written in an engaging tone and inviting comments or a video interviewing a planner about the impact of the development, could boost SEO, attract media attention and be amplified on social media.
There’s no such thing as an unsexy industry. If you don’t believe me, send me an email and I’ll come up with 10 story ideas you can use to create engaging content.

Tip: Subscribe to top industry blogs to find out about the latest trends and then add your own fresh angles or simply comment on them in your own content.

  • Good writing:

Most people think they can write, but often they can’t. It’s a skill and it takes practice.
It starts with a good headline and an intro that grabs your reader’s attention – although headlines can’t be too clever or ambiguous online.

Identify keywords – what will your potential customer be searching for on Google – use those terms in your title, subtitle and sparingly throughout your copy.
Have a light touch – don’t overwrite, don’t overcomplicate or use jargon and don’t be afraid to let your sense of humour and character shine through.

Don’t waffle – get to the point quickly and have a call to action – what do you want your reader to do now he or she has read your post.
Let me know how you get on.

If you need help to identify ideas for engaging content, draw up an editorial calendar or communications plan or do some writing for you, contact me.

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.

Does my business really need a blog?

Whether you run cookery courses for children, fix computers for a living or transform gardens – a blog could give your business a real boost. Here is what a business blog can do for you:

Attract new customers
Google loves websites to be fresh and have a bit of a buzz about them and a blog will do just that. It will give your website a pulse.

This will boost your Google ranking making it easier for customers to find you.  Using the right keywords and tags in your blog, linking to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, will turn your business into a customer magnet.

Make you shine
Your blog is your chance to blow the socks off potential customers – and I don’t mean flogging your products with creepy sales speak – but through informative posts showing that you are an expert in your field, someone they should consider buying from.

Say you’re a chiropractor and customers often ask you questions such as:
“Should I put ice on my strained muscle? “Is it OK to feel pain when I play tennis?” “How long does it take to cure runner’s knee?”
Bingo! Answer these questions on your blog and you have a series of posts to show new customers why you’re good at what you do!
Update your blog regularly with valuable, useful information and you’ll become the go-to person in your field.

When writing blogs or guest blogs (more on this later) for my clients I look at questions their clients typically ask, for example:

  • “How do I start my own business?” – a career coach
  • “How long will a spray tan last?”  – a beautician
  • “How do I keep my children’s lunchboxes cool during a heat wave?” – a company selling lunch boxes
  • “How do I go about getting a divorce?” – family lawyers

Answer these questions in your blog and then subtly offer to solve the problem for the client with a call to action at the end.

Show the real you
A website can be quite static and sterile. It doesn’t give you a voice in the way a blog does where you can have a real conversation. This is good because it shows you’re human and you’re not just there to make customers part with their bucks.
They ask questions, you reply – if they’re not happy they can tell you and you can respond. You share ideas, experiences, products and new developments with them and they share it with their friends on Facebook – more potential customers! This way you build ongoing relationships with clients and manage your reputation.

Of course, you may not have the time to write your own blog and manage social media sites to help promote it. That’s why I’m here. Here’s the subtle call to action in case you haven’t noticed 😉

I write targeted blogs with a clear call to action that will do all the things I talked about for your business. I’m an experienced writer who will not put your customer to sleep.

Contact me for more information about business blogging or to hire me as a freelance blogger for your business – or for an introductory session on how to start your own blog.

This is what people say about me.

If you want to know more about how to write a blog – look out for my next post or sign up to my free newsletter.