How to write powerful copy
If there's one thing that's guaranteed to slow down a website build for most entrepreneurs, it's writing copy (i.e. the words). There's something about trying to talk eloquently about yourself, build a pace, create desire and engage your audience that seems to freak out so many of us.
And understandably so. We weren't really taught to write to sell at school - and for those of us that did partake in persuasive writing lessons, let's be honest, it was probably a few years ago now.
Writing in an engaging, natural style that's unique to your business is an essential skill for every business owner these days.
Even if you plan on engaging a copywriter for your 'important' marketing collateral like your website, you'll probably still want to write email newsletters, keep up a blog and write effective proposals. So where to start? How to make it happen? And how to create something that works without having a nervous breakdown?
Writing copy doesn't need to be terrifying. It's totally within the reach of all of us as long as you follow a few simple guidelines.
Understand who you're talking to. None of us find writing to an 'audience' easy. Instead, think of someone very specific - even if you're writing something that's going to be read by thousands of people, like a website. Before you even sit down at your keyboard and start trying to type (hello, writer's block) start making notes.
Establish why your ideal client needs what you're selling. Why should they pick you? And what's going to make them want what you have to sell? Think about their greatest desires and their deepest fears. How does your business help them? Why do they need you? Why will they want you?
Imagine you're face to face with your dream client having a chat. What do you want to tell them? Think about the sort of conversation you might have. The reasons they might give you for not picking you or going ahead. What would you tell them? What do you think they need to hear to pick you? I'm not suggesting you type all of this out on your homepage, but this sort of process gives you clues as to the sort of things you'll need to include somewhere.
Relax! It's just writing. There's no need to go all formal and stiff upper lip simply because you're writing. For most of us, formal language just isn't relevant to us or our clients these days. Relax and write in an easy, conversational style. I'm not suggesting you slip into #txtspk but write in a way that's appropriate to your dream customer, not your Great Aunt Mabel.
Edit, edit, edit. Keep things short and sweet. Ramp up the page. And create excitement. Use a mix of short and long sentences to add pace. And don't be afraid to start a sentence with and or but: the grammar police might not like it but it keeps things pacy and fresh.
Make it about them not you. You'll capture the attention of your prospective customer if you think of things from their perspective rather than yours. That doesn't mean you need to tell them how they should be feeling (that just looks plain ugly) but you will want to think about why they need or want you and talk to them in a way that they can empathise with.
Be yourself. When you find writing difficult or you're feeling under confident in your business it's easy to 'model' yourself on someone in your industry that you admire. Don't do it! Be yourself, have confidence in your business, your offering and your own voice. Write as you'd speak, it's much more engaging and it'll be totally unique because no one will ever speak quite like you.
One of the best examples I've seen of this is on the Braizen website. Goodness, these guys swear on their website and in their proposal and do you know what? It works! Because that's part of being Braizen and Badass and they totally own it. What's your brand voice and how should you speak?
Write from the heart. When you've taken the trouble to understand what's so special about your business and why your clients should be leaping at the chance to work with you then it's not difficult to write emotively. I love the way Emma Case does this on her Welcome Home blog
We want you to come because you feel like you have to. Because you feel like a ‘homie’ already... because you can’t quite put your finger on what you want out of it but you just know you need to be a part of it.
It's this sort of emotive copy that tugs at the heartstrings and galvanises action. And you don't get that by following a formula from a website or from swapping out a few words that you've seen on someone else's website. You get it by taking the time and the trouble to sit down and understand what makes your business wonderful.
Most of all. Enjoy it. This is your opportunity to tell the world about your business, to let your brilliance shine! Take a deep breath and enjoy. You've totally got this.