Writing commercial content is a science and very different to just being able to write good English. If you’re running a business, particularly in the early days of your business, getting professional help may be a bit outside your budget, but it’s still important that any copy you write to present your business does the job you want it to.
Typically commercial copy needs to persuade people to take action. To do that you need to see things from your reader’s point of view. These 5 questions will help you to get focused and get results!
1. Is the information presented in your reader’s language?
Your reader probably isn’t very interested in what you do; but they ARE interested in what they get. This means that they’ll respond much better to phrases like ‘You can have …’, rather than ‘We can give you …’. Focus on language that is predominantly ‘you’ focused and reduce that number of ‘we’ references to a minimum.
2. Does the reader need to know this?
As a business owner it would be odd if you weren’t passionate about your business, but not everyone is as excited in the detail as you are! Knowing what you want to tell your reader and knowing what the reader wants to know are not the same thing. As George Bernard Shaw once commented ‘You must learn to murder your children’ – when you’ve done your first draft go through it sentence by sentence and cut out anything that doesn’t help the reader to make a positive decision.
3. Will this help to create a positive impression?
This isn’t about waxing lyrical about how amazing your products or services are; let your testimonials do that for you. This is about delivering good quality information in a positive tone, making everything clear and simple (and easy to find if it’s your website). It’s about staying away from negative language. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of pain ‘Are you struggling with …?’, but never talk about what you DON’T do, or criticise competitors – it will just make your reader uncomfortable and that’s not the feeling you want to create.
4. Have I ticked all the reader’s boxes?
Look at what you’ve written and think like a potential customer. Could they respond to any of your statements ‘so what?’ If so, you haven’t told them what they need to know. Don’t assume they will work it out for themselves, remember people consume written information quickly, they tend to scan, if it’s not obvious they may miss it altogether. So:
You’ll get a bespoke service becomes You’ll get a bespoke service that is tailored to exactly how you work; tell us what you want and we’ll ensure you get it.
Your workshop is guaranteed becomes If you don’t think the workshop is what you need, just tell us by lunchtime and your fee will be refunded, no questions asked.
Every wibble has a one year warranty becomes The one year warranty means that no matter how much usage your wibble gets any repairs or replacements required in the first 12 months are covered.
Yes, it means longer content, but it ensures that the reader doesn’t have any questions unanswered that may influence them to look elsewhere for a solution to their problem.
5. What do I want the reader to do next?
One of the most common faults when people are writing marketing copy is that they forget to tell the reader what to do next. Believe it or not I have seen a marketing flyer with no website address, no phone number and no means of actually taking action on it. The place people forget this most often is on their websites. EVERY page needs a call to action – some pages will have more than one. Do you want people to pick up the phone and call, complete your enquiry form, download your free document or click the ‘buy now’ button? Tell them what to do next:
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If you take all this aspects into account you’ll find your copy is much more focused and you’ll get a better response from your readers.