Because when you stop and take a look around, life is pretty amazing!
Why Good Copy Is Key (and How to Start Writing It)
I’m pretty biased, but I believe good copy is key if you want to attract your dream clients, and more importantly, convince them to buy from you. Many business owners fall into the trap of believing the internet is a predominantly visual medium. The truth is, 80% of what we do online is still text-based.
Regardless of what you do, who you serve, or what you’re selling, your business needs words. It’s how we communicate, it’s how we consume the majority of information online, and it’s how we understand things.
Aside from expressing things like knowledge, expertise, and value, the copy on your website plays a key role in on-page SEO. In other words, it can help you show up on google. You also need copy to create things like brochures, blog posts, emails, and Instagram captions, so it’s also essential to the majority of your marketing efforts.
Surely Branding Is More Important?
Obviously, the visual imagery associated with your business is important. It plays a big part in attracting people to your brand and getting them interested in what you have to say. But it’s copy that people connect with. It’s how they begin to understand your values, and it’s vital if you want to win their trust and build loyalty.
Unfortunately, as a copywriter, I’m used to being a bit of an afterthought! When people are launching a new business or updating an existing one, they tend to think about copy and branding as separate things. More often than not, they automatically prioritise the latter.
But your copy, the language you use, and the way you communicate is as much a part of your brand as your logo and the colours on your website.
Your Brand Voice
What we’re talking about here is your ‘brand voice’ or your ‘brand language’ – the body of words, phrases and terms you use to engage with customers, express your purpose and describe the products you’re selling. Basically, it’s the tone of your communications and the style of your writing.
It’s not just the type of language you use, it’s the length of your sentences, the way the language flows, your use of humour, and even the rhythm and pace. It should be consistent, so that whether you’re posting on Facebook or producing content for your website, your audience will know it’s you. I believe your brand voice should be as distinctive and recognisable as your logo.
So, if good copy is key, how do you go about writing it? Where do you start?
Start with Why
Simon Sinek is an author and motivational speaker famous for popularising the concept of ‘the golden circle’. It’s an idea I go back to over and over again whenever I’m developing copy.
Sinek believes every single business owner or organisation knows what they do. Some know how they do it – they understand their manufacturing process or have some sense of their USP. But very few people know why they do what they do.
By why, he doesn’t mean to make a profit. That’s a result. He means, what’s your purpose, what’s your cause, what do you believe? Why does your business exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?
Traditional marketing tends to move from the clearest, most obvious thing to the fuzziest thing. We say what we do, we say how we do it, and we expect some kind of behaviour. A click, a purchase – whatever.
But Sinek argues people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. The goal isn’t to do business with everybody who needs what you have, the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.
Your why is your USP with heart and soul. It’s the foundation of your brand, the driving force behind all your products and services. It’s the thing that inspires you and your customers. When you have a strong purpose at the core of your business, you build an audience of advocates, creating common values, trust and loyalty.
Who Are You Talking To?
Another secret to writing good copy for your business is knowing and understanding who you’re talking to.
Often, when I’m developing a voice for a brand, I’ll have one person in mind, the ultimate dream client. I give them a name, I picture what they do for a living, how they relax, what they spend their money on. I’ll imagine how they sound when they speak, and I’ll mirror certain elements of their voice in the words I use.
But there’s a bit more to it than simply conjuring up an imaginary name, age and occupation. You also need to tune into the goals and challenges of your dream clients. What are they trying to achieve? What are they struggling with? And how can you help them? Addressing these things explicitly in your copy is your chance to demonstrate your value.
At the same time, it’s important to always view your products and services through the eyes of your customer. Often, what we think is valuable about what we do, isn’t what our customers think. So, you might need to carve your why, your purpose, into a slightly different shape for your dream client.
For example, my Virtual Assistant, Emma, sells administrative support. But when I hired her, I was buying time. Time to focus on other areas of my business or be with my kids. I was buying more headspace, so I could focus on generating new ideas. And I was buying a reduction in stress and overwhelm, so I wouldn’t burn out.
It may be that you have a personal why and a business why that sit alongside each other. Your personal why is the internal purpose of your work. It’s why you’ve chosen the path you’re on. Your business why is the external purpose and it’s focussed on the people you serve. Both these things can be as lofty or as simple as you like and they’ll always be evolving, just like you.
When these things are clear in your mind – why you do what you do and who you’re doing it for – you can ensure they reverberate through every piece of content you put out. I often tell clients to write their answers to these questions on a piece of paper and pin it somewhere obvious, somewhere they’ll be forced to look at it every day.
When you don’t know what to write, return to those goals and challenges. Think about the questions your dream clients are dying to answer, the things they desperately need help with.
Everything I’ve talked about so far must happen before you’ve written a single word. Having done the groundwork, you’ll be in an excellent position to start. If you want to write the kind of copy your dream clients will want to read, there are some practical things to bear in mind too.
The good news is, you can forget a lot of what they taught you in school! Most English teachers encourage their students to use beautiful, elaborate language. Long words and complex sentences are applauded.
But the key to effective copy is clear communication. Avoid big, fancy words. The same goes for sentence structure and the length of your paragraphs.
Write in a natural way. Speak the language of your audience and do it in a way that conveys you’re a real person, with a genuine interest in offering help and expertise. If you want to practice this skill, I’d recommend recording yourself and then transcribing what you’ve said. You’ll find there are elements of how you speak that can be incorporated into your writing.
Don’t overwrite. Explain things simply. Don’t overstate. When you exaggerate or make wild, outlandish claims, you risk losing the trust and respect of your audience.
Make sure your message is clear. Read and revise what you’ve written. Check your spelling and grammar. My top tip for proofreading your own copy is to read each sentence backwards. That way, your brain won’t automatically correct mistakes or fill in missing words because it thinks it already knows what you’re trying to say.
Finally, try thinking like a storyteller. Stories allow us to experience information, rather than simply consuming it. They’re great for attracting an audience, engaging them, and holding their attention. Keep the story simple and relatable. You don’t need plot twists and character arcs – you need a story that will resonate with your audience.
If you’re asking someone to do something, like buy your product, you need to make them care. The best stories come from the heart which brings us back to where we started – why you do what you do.
In a saturated market, where lots of brands offer similar products and services, it’s your ‘why’ that sets you apart. Nobody else can tell the same story.
Our Guest Author
Franky Shanahan - Founder of Love Audrey
An experienced copywriter and digital content creator who helps small creative businesses communicate with their dream clients.
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