Need copy for your startup or small biz? Use these essential copywriting tips to help get your message across.
Or contact me and leave the heavy lifting to the pros…
Why Are You Writing?
Before you start on any message, ask yourself:
What do you want your copy to achieve?
Are you trying to make sales?
Building a relationship with existing customers?
Informing your subscriber list about new features, or changes to your service?
Encouraging use of your product/service or re-engaging lapsed users?
You can create good copy for every aspect of your biz – as long as you’re clear about what you want to achieve before you start. Matching the right tone with the right content is crucial.
Dumping The Elevator Pitch…
When you want to communicate the value of your product to your customer, the process is different to pitching for investment.
Instead of your ‘elevator pitch’, you need to focus on your USP – your Unique Selling Point.
Remember: your customer wants to know what’s in it for him/her… they’re not interested in your profit margin, or what your plans for expansion are.
Fact is, they’re selfish: they want what you have to offer. And that’s how it should be – because you’re offering something they need, right?
So tell them: what sets you apart from the pack? How do you satisfy their desires better than anybody else?
Explain what your customer can expect from you. Show them you have what they want, and how to get it.
Don’t Ask: “Who Are My Customers?”
Simply put, it’s the wrong question.
Try “who is my customer?” instead…
The reason copywriters do this – and you should too – is because the best copy is written to one reader, not a group.
A useful exercise is to try and visualise your customer sitting across from you when you’re writing.
Think of him or her as an individual – imagine what they look like, how old they are, how do they react when you read them your message?
(You are reading your copy aloud, right? Just checking.)
Talk to your customer as you would in person, focusing on their individual needs and interests. You’ll find your message benefits from being more personal and easier to absorb.
Of course, there will be times when you’re writing to different sections of your customer base, and then you’ll want to visualise a different individual – the new subscriber, or the lapsed user, say.
Focus on how their needs differ from your regular customer, and write for them alone.
Remember: targeted messages hit home deeper.
Who The Hell Are You?
Or more politely: who is your message from?
A basic question, sure – but I see so many businesses making one crucial error in their copy…
Sign off any email copy from an individual – the CEO or head of Comms, say – to make the message more personal.
Don’t use a ‘No-Reply’ address unless you absolutely have to – you want to encourage interaction with your customers, not discourage it.
User engagement is constantly proven to be higher with services who use a real spokesperson in their marketing.
Yes, you can still say “we do XYZ…” on your landing-page – but remember in this case to write as one individual representing the group.
Companies don’t write. People do. And who wants to read an email written by a building?
What’s Your Story?
Keep your value proposition at the forefront of your biz copy. People are interested in WHY something works, not IF it does.
So… what’s the story behind your company? Why do you do what you do so well?
It’s about establishing a consistent tone: work your values into each message you send your customers, and every user experience… if you make a real connection, you’ll find more and more people stick with you.
By building up a clear picture of who you are and what you mean to your users, your copy can be so much more than just words on a page.
You’re Tapping. But Are They Listening?
Be clear when communicating your services.
Jargon that may be obvious to you (I’m looking at you, programmers) can completely fly over the heads of others. Talk how your customer wants you to talk.
A common problem people run into when copywriting for startups is the ‘tapper-listener’ effect.
This, as described by The Heath Brothers in the book Made To Stick, is when you’re assuming your customer has the same knowledge as you do… or you’re assuming they have too much knowledge.
Either way, this ‘curse of knowledge’ is like poison to your biz.
If you’re tapping out a tune that’s unfamiliar to the listener, there’s very little chance they’ll be hearing it the right way, and you lose the vital bond of communication.
Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us.
And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create our listeners’ state of mind.
Chip & Dan Heath – Made To Stick
What Do You Think Works?
What website and email copy have you read that resonates with you personally?
What are your competitors doing to communicate their values and benefits to customers/prospects in your market?
And look beyond your existing market and competitors too – you can learn a lot from successful marketers and businesses in different niches…
But focus less on the words and language they use, and instead look closer at how they structure the message.
How they use a headline or subject line to pull you in….
How the opening paragraph of an email or the bullet copy on their site tells you what you want to hear…
Are they using a closing tactic to get you to commit to their service or sign up for something? Do they describe the features or the benefits of their product?
You And Your Copywriter…
When I work with a client, I start out by asking them to tell me as much about their product/service as possible, and always get useful ‘copy’ from that initial Q&A.
An expert copywriter who knows which questions to ask and how to present the answers to your customer is a good start – but nobody knows your product better than you. Use your passion and experience to paint the best possible picture of it.
Don’t be afraid to trust your own instincts…
Sometimes the best approach is to combine a copywriter’s skills and strategies with your desire to show the world what a great product you have.
Done right, it’s a win-win!