Everyone can write, but when it comes to writing commercial copy for yourself writer’s block tends to kick in!
It’s not necessarily because you can’t write effectively to market your business, products or services; it’s often simply a case of knowing too much. If this sounds crazy let me give you a couple of examples.
There’s a company that deal in high level technical goods – they wanted to upgrade their website, including the copy. I had a long conversation with them and reviewed their current website. There was a lot of technical language on there, so I asked them who their clients were and what level of understanding the person who was most likely to be resourcing goods like these would have.
They thought their clients had a reasonable understanding of the technical language – at the level of the user. These tended to be engineers, but the purchasing staff weren’t engineers. They were looking for technical specifications, but when it came to comparing one ‘widget’ with another, they didn’t understand the details. In other words, if the technical specs were correct how would they decide which company’s ‘widget’ to order?
If they don’t speak the lingo, technical gobbledegook is more likely to send the purchasing staff off to find something that makes them feel less confused. The client realised that might have been causing fewer sales and we created copy written for non-technical humans beings, alongside a box with the technical specs for each product. It worked!
The second example, I’m ashamed to say, was perpetrated by me!
A few years ago I created a new retained service offering a range of options from basic to fairly comprehensive. I was quite excited about this (aren’t we all, when we launch something new?) and wrote an all-encompassing document outlining the various service levels and what went into each package, along with details of the process, the prices and – even – a few benefits.
I thought I’d run it past a few people whose opinion I valued. They all gave me very positive feedback – on the service – then someone said “And what will you send people who are interested in this service?”
I was a little taken aback. That’s what the document was for, wasn’t it? All 13 pages of it!
That was a painful process – editing it down to one page plus the prices. All that carefully written copy hacked back to the bare essentials. All the way through it I kept stopping and exclaiming “but, they need to know this!” They didn’t. Nobody is going to read great mountains of text to find out if you’ve got what they want.
So, the moral of these tales is – keep it short and simple, give the reader what they need to make a decision and, if you can’t do that, get someone else to write it for you.
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