The Secrets to Writing Great Copy for your Business Today

April 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Coaching, Copywriting, Online Marketing

If you don’t think you’re a good writer, then you might prefer having a root canal to writing for your business. But never fear – there are ways to get around your writing demons.

What’s in it for me?

The first and probably most important thing to keep in mind is that your potential customers want to know “what’s in it for me?” Any copy that focuses everything on you, your business, what you do, how you do it, isn’t going to answer that question. Filling a prospect’s head with all the features you offer, with no benefits for them, will have them clicking away to find someone who “gets” them.

Here’s how you tap into the “What’s in it for me?” question:

  • Think about the questions customers ask you most often about your business. Answer them.
  • Ask the customers who love you why they love you (and your business, presumably).
  • What problems do you solve?

Simply by focusing on these three areas, you can generate several article, web copy and, perhaps, even whitepaper ideas. Remember, the focus is on Them, not You.

Natural keyword use

We’ve all heard that to show up in search engines we must use keywords and phrases. But when you force keywords into paragraphs, called keyword stuffing, the result can be stilted, hard-to-read copy. This is not what you’re going for – and you can be penalized by search engines for appearing to pander to them. Instead, think of your ideal client and write for him or her. After finishing your copy, go back and decide where keywords can be inserted logically and smoothly. This usually involves simple word replacement.

Simpler is better

Newer writers tend to expand their copy by adding adjectives and adverbs that increase word count but often do little to improve the text. This doesn’t mean all adjectives and adverbs are bad, it means that writers use them as filler to plump copy. Don’t do this. Write what you’re thinking in the least flowery way possible. You can always go back through your text and insert things to spice it up.

This is especially important when writing web copy. Visitors to your site won’t take the time to read a long treatise. They want to skim and learn the gist of your piece quickly. If they can’t do that, they will move on. The use of paragraph breaks, bullet points and short sentences also contribute to keeping readers engaged.

Misteps, misteaks and misspelings

Yes, I know that the three words above are spelled incorrectly. But I often read articles, blog posts and websites where there are glaring errors. I can’t help but wonder if the owner didn’t think that spellchecking was important. Don’t publish with errors in your copy! It reflects badly on you and your business.

Consider hiring a copy enhancer

Copywriters can be expensive because they write from scratch. If you’re inclined to write for your business, but unsure that you can produce quality copy, then consider hiring a copy enhancer and skip the copywriter. I don’t write your copy for you, but I do read it thoroughly to determine areas that need attention – and then I give it. I use your words, only better.

Contact me to learn more about copy enhancement and how it can take your words from weak to wow!

 

© 2012 Sarah Wood

 About the Author: 
Sarah Jo Wood is founder of Evolving Advisors Inc., author of ‘How to turn a No or a Maybe into a Yes!” , and producer of “Magnetic Phrases.” Her forte is in copy enhancment, a gift allowing her to enhance already written copy thereby keeping the owner’s original voice, while magnetizing and making the copy sizzle with persuasion at a fraction of the cost of a copywriter. She can be found at www.evolvingadvisors.com

Don’t Leave Your Web Copy Writing to Amateurs

April 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Coaching, Copywriting, Online Marketing

We’ve all seen them. Those websites that might have a snazzy design, navigate well and seem so put together. They might even elicit an audible, “Wow!” at first glance.

And then you start reading the home page. Suddenly, none of the other stuff matters. Nothing – no snappy java script, no fun graphics, no interesting topics can overcome a poorly written website. Nothing.

If you’re not able to convey your ideas in a concise, clear and understandable way, your website visitors won’t be able to understand what you’re offering. And that’s not a good thing because the point of your website is to gain visitors and potential customers.

Copywriting for the webMost of the time when I visit poorly written websites, it’s because the business owner either wrote the copy him or herself, had a family member or friend write it or made the mistake of hiring a bargain basement writer for the task. The words in your website are at least as (and I’d say more) important than anything else a site visitor can see.

You can get away with a less-than-stellar design. You can get away with a bare-bones website. But you can’t get away with misspellings, sentences that don’t make sense and choppy, disjointed paragraphs. People simply won’t stay.

Another issue I see frequently is not that copy is bad, but that it doesn’t compel action. Business websites typically exist to do more than be an online brochure. You want your visitors to be interested in what you’re doing so much so that they willingly sign up for your email list. They willingly visit interior pages on your site. They willingly pick up the phone and call you or ask for information another way. Well-written web copy weaves a story and leads visitors down a path toward…something.

Think of it this way. If you invite a guest over to your home, you probably wouldn’t leave them to fend for themselves – to figure out where the kitchen or bathroom is and where the party’s happening. You’d welcome them happily, explain or show them your home and lead them to the event location. The same is true for your website. Don’t let your visitors fend for themselves. Lead them to where you want them to go. This reduces the chance of having visitors come, see a bit and leave without leaving a trace of themselves behind. How do you do this? With well-written web content.

Even if you’re a good writer, you’ll want to at least hire a competent editor to review your copy. It helps if they have a copy editing background or, at the very least, a sales background. Editors tend to be less expensive than copywriters or even content writers, so if you enjoy writing (and are fairly good at it), you can avoid their higher fees.

The point is this. You wouldn’t want to take your car to an amateur mechanic who doesn’t know what he’s doing. So why leave your website in the hands of an amateur writer? Your website visitors deserve to be treated as the gems they are – and we all know you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.

 

© 2012 Sarah Wood

 About the Author: 
Sarah Jo Wood is founder of Evolving Advisors Inc. and author of ‘How to turn a No or a Maybe into a Yes!”  And producer of “Magnetic Phrases.” Her forte is in copy enhancment, a gift allowing her to enhance already written copy thereby keeping the owner’s original voice, while magnetizing and making the copy sizzle with persuasion at a fraction of the cost of a copywriter. She can be found atwww.evolvingadvisors.com

Making Time for Social Media When You have 1000 Other Things to Do

April 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Coaching, Online Marketing

There are two common complaints I hear from business owners about social media:

  1. It’s confusing
  2. It takes too much time

I couldn’t agree more. As a business owner (and solopreneur), I’m responsible for marketing my company including participating in social media. With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, video and social bookmarking sites, it’s enough to make your head spin. And then comes Pinterest. Oh dear.

So how do you keep up with social media and still run your business?

The 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report (from Social Media Examiner) released last April sought to address that and other questions. The study was conducted among 3,300 marketers across industry sectors and included people from the self-employed crowd through to people in major corporations. The study looked at a variety of issues facing social media users today, many of which have been tracked since 2009.

According to the study…

– 90 percent of marketers see social media as very important for their business.
– 88 percent believe the number one benefit of social media marketing is business exposure
– Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging were the top four social media tools
– 58 percent of marketers spend 6 or more hours on social media tasks per week and 34 percent invest 11 or more hours per week (That’s a lot of time!)

While this information is helpful and interesting, it still doesn’t answer the question as to how you can manage to communicate through social media, run a business and have a life. Here are some suggestions:

Know Where your Clients are Hanging Out
You wouldn’t go to a business party if you knew your current or prospective clients weren’t going to be there – it would be a waste of time. So why utilize social media sites if you know your clients aren’t there? The first step is understanding what they use and are interested in regarding social media. If you run a business that caters to other businesses, you might think twice about using Facebook (which is trying to be more business focused but isn’t there yet) as much as LinkedIn, which has a purely business objective. There is no point in wasting time in one part of the social media universe if no one will see what you’re doing.

Utilize Tools that make your Job Easier
If you still go to each site individually, you are taking more time than you need to update your social media sites. That being said, you don’t want to automate everything you do on these different sites. Twitter has different needs than Facebook or LinkedIn – and that doesn’t just mean the character count. Twitter users know they must be quick, punchy and almost headline-like in their delivery. Facebook and LinkedIn allow for much longer-form writing that can express an idea more fully. Another reason to not automate everything is the loss of social interaction. After all, social media is about being social.

Tools to investigate include: Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Seismic and Ping. These aren’t the only ones, just the ones that have gotten more press and been used frequently by social media marketers.

Make Time for Social Media
Easier said than done, right? If you look at social media as a big, hairy monster, it will seem overwhelming. But you can do a lot in 10-15 minutes each day, if you have a plan. How do you get a plan? Well, truthfully, it means carving out specific time to consider topics to write about whether that’s for a blog or social media. Consider making a list of different topics that cover the gamut of your expertise. For example, look through old blog posts (if you have them) for ideas or lines you can use in posts. Create a Google reader to compile blogs you read regularly in one place. This saves you time and gives you one area in which to gather new ideas.

Enlist the Help of Someone Else
If you can afford to hire someone to run your social media, then this might be the best option if you just can’t seem to get to it. You don’t want to ignore social media or do it in a haphazard way – your potential and current clients may see that. Plus, it’s highly likely that your competition is on social media. Nothing could be worse than being left in their Twitter dust.

 

© 2012 Sarah Wood

 About the Author: 
Sarah Jo Wood is founder of Evolving Advisors Inc. and author of ‘How to turn a No or a Maybe into a Yes!”  And producer of “Magnetic Phrases.” Her forte is in copy enhancment, a gift allowing her to enhance already written copy thereby keeping the owner’s original voice, while magnetizing and making the copy sizzle with persuasion at a fraction of the cost of a copywriter. She can be found at www.evolvingadvisors.com