I'm in the middle of helping a new client with copy revisions for her website redesign, and I am editing the first draft of her ABOUT ME page, as well as her speaker one-sheet. Since I've been editing other aspects of her writing over the last few weeks, I've begun to notice a few writing habits she falls into that not only don't help her communications, but actually hold them back. I've observed similar kinds of writing problems with other clients I've had over the years. So rather then just mark the same edits over and over again, I've created a mini style guide and tips sheet that she and future clients can refer to when launching new writing projects. Here are the top 5 copywriting tips that will just about guarantee writing much improved writing. Read them over and see what you think.
1. Avoid overusing the word "people"
"People" is one of those overused words that for some reason is popular with less experienced writers. Unfortunately, it is a completely generic and flat word that does nothing to give a potential client a clue that you as a business owner, or entrepreneur, are a good fit for them. Next time you are pitching to your potential client or audience, be as specific as possible in your word choice, and do some research using the Google Keyword Tool to find the best choices for your niche from an SEO standpoint. Who are your potential audience members and clients? Writers? Executives? Artists? Entrepreneurs? Whoever they are, name them in your copy, and don't use "people" as your default category to describe them.
2. Don't default to "We"
It's a common "business speak" myth to call your company a "We," when in fact you are the sole proprietor. Don't default to "We" just because you're trying to impress. If your company is just you, it's fine to be direct and refer to yourself as "I."
3. The details make the difference
It's not enough to write general statements about how you help and work with your clients. The more specific you are, and the more you highlight your signature system or approach, the more successful you'll be from a content marketing standpoint. There's a huge difference between:
"I help clients live happier, healthier lives"
"My 4-step approach encompasses health and wellness, financial freedom, work-life balance, and gaining confidence, so my clients can live happier, healthier lives."
4. Have a consistent voice
Your voice is what defines your brand and sets you apart from your competitors. With so many opportunities to show your voice and express yourself-- websites, blogs, video, social media-- it's important to be consistent and integrated. If your website has a formal or academic tone, but your videos are super casual, and your social media is somewhere in between, you're going to have an identity problem and confuse your audience. How to find and develop your voice? First, pay attention to how you speak. Are there expressions that only you use, or do you have a certain rhythm and tone when you talk? Try writing that way, and your "you-ness" will begin to emerge.
Chris Brogan, Michael Martine (Remarkablogger), and Sonio Simone (Copyblogger) all have unique and memorable voices and writing styles, and you know it's them from the first paragraph, if not the first sentence.
5. Testimonials should be relevant and cohesive
Suzanne Vega wrote: "It's not enough to be in love..."
In the copywriting world, it's not enough to just grab a customer testimonial and throw it onto your website. Testimonials need to be edited just like all other copy, so that they make sense and are contextual. What did you specifically provide for this client that pleased him or her so much? Who is providing the testimonial? You need at least the first name, title, and company name, or there isn't much value to it. Is the testimonial enthusiastic enough to be effective? If not, find another one to use instead that sings your praises eloquently and succinctly.
Any other tips I missed for effective copywriting? Share in the comments!