Every business needs a voice. There are many reasons you will need to get writing and find yours. Although you’ve been writing all your life, writing focussed, engaging communications that represent your company and its personality can be tricky.
The first point to note, is that no matter now important your messages are to you, the truth is they are not that important to other people! There are hundreds of emails, websites and brochures competing for their attention, so you need to be as impactive as possible. Planning your writing and its format will ensure better quality results that help build your presence and reputation. In your plan, these are the top things to consider to help you improve your copywriting skills.
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Your audience – who are you talking to?
You need to be clear on exactly who you are writing for. Ask yourself plenty of questions. Who are your readers? How old are they? Where are they? What interests do they have? And importantly, why might they read this? What do they want to hear? (This is more important than what you want to say!) Make your communications useful, relevant and interesting by answering their questions and needs. Think about your products and services in terms of the benefits they deliver to users, rather than just features.
Tone or style – What flavour are you?
This is often not even considered, but it is what gives your communication and your brand flavour and personality. It affects how your writing will make other people feel and react. It needs to be relevant to your purpose and your audience. Think about it from the offset – formal, friendly, informative… What adjectives describe your company and its values? Then reflect this in your writing.
In business copy, if you are addressing your audience directly, wherever possible speak from their perspective rather than your own. That means using ‘you’ and ‘your’ to address their needs, rather than ‘we’ and ‘our’ to talk only about yourselves.
Keep it simple!
Use the simplest language and grammar possible. People have no tolerance for unnecessarily complex text. Keep your sentences and paragraphs as short as possible and keep the meaning clear. The idea is to make the readers job easy. Here’s a good example from Plainenglish.co.uk.
Before. If there are any points on which you require explanation we shall be glad to furnish such additional details as may be required by telephone.
After. If you have any questions, please phone.
There are many apps to help you these days, so you have no excuse! Try Grammarly (free) or ProWritingAid (paid but more comprehensive).
The importance of structure
Thinking about your structure before you start writing can really help the quality of your piece. It will help to ensure flow, and coherence. This is essential to keep the reader reading.
Obviously, the heading and introduction are the most crucial part. This is your chance to draw people in and give readers a sense of what is ahead. Briefly outline what your piece is about via a subheading or short paragraph. Remember if you’re finding it tricky, you don’t have to write this bit first! The middle should contain the main argument, facts or content. Decide on your key examples or anecdotes before you start and don’t go off piste! Finally the end should summarise for clarity and where relevant include a call to action.
Writing for the screen
Just be aware that writing for the screen has changed things! The rumour is that we have an 8 second attention span! A slow unfolding essay will usually turn people off. All the things above will help but use subheadings and pictures to break your writing into chunks, and to help people who are skimming through.
Now don’t put if off, get writing! Getting started is often the hardest bit. Remember good copy-writers might spend as much time editing as writing. Show your piece to someone else for their comments and to give yourself some distance. If you are writing an important asset, time away from your content before you review it can keep it fresh.
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