Everyone, even average people, have a brand they need to protect through good online communication. People who present themselves poorly drive others away, or just remove their credibility. A bad online presence is the easiest way to end up alone or ruin good relationships.
As an entrepreneur, communication becomes doubly important. A leader who can’t get their point across or adequately build bridges is a leader who is destined to fail. On the net, you can’t just be a talker; you have to be a writer.
Writing is going to be your primary form of communication on the net. You have to communicate what your brand is about, why you are an authority in your field, and why people will want to do business with you. You probably think you’re doing it well, too. Who knows? You might be.
Unfortunately, there’s a whole lot of bad copy out there. Most bad writers don’t realize how bad they are, either. For a copywriter such as myself, it’s akin to looking at that one socially inept kid posting photos of themselves in weird outfits and asking why no one takes them seriously.
More businesses than you’d ever imagine make serious, crippling copywriting mistakes that wreck their business. I’ve personally seen businesses lose investors, customers, and reputations due to their bad writing. It happens with people, too.
When I first started posting stuff online, I didn’t know what looked good and what didn’t. I know how bad it looks, I learned how to outgrow it, and I want to help you avoid similar mistakes. So, here are my top 10 tips for business owners that want to put their best foot forward via text.
- Know your audience, and write accordingly. The number one goal of copywriting is to establish trust in your audience. Trust is earned by showing them that you understand their needs, can relate to what they’re going through, and also come from a similar background as them.
Ask yourself what your audience would want, then deliver it. Don’t think about someone in your position; think about what you would want to read if you were a potential customer. If you want to maximize profits but are unsure of what to write, try testing out different headlines and content strategies to find out what your audience likes more.
- Write like your audience does. The tone you take with your audience matters. It can even create a rapport. If your audience is highly educated and wealthy, use a more formal language. If your audience is youthful, add more slang and keep things more casual. No amount of writing will work well for you if it doesn’t click with your audience.
A good example of this would be Stash Invest, an app geared towards Millennials who want to invest in the stock market but feel intimidated by all the graphs. They realized that most of their clients had some education but didn’t quite know enough to interpret all the movements like a Wall Street pro.
To gain more followers, they used casual, easy-to-understand language that encouraged users to take control of their life. Their copywriting emphasizes basic principles and easy-to-follow explanations of finance concepts. It worked, and they’re now a major investment platform.
- Tug at their heartstrings. Great copywriting gives you an emotional connection to the product you’re trying to sell. You want your copy to give your readers a reason to feel emotional.
Whether it’s nostalgic, yearning to be accepted, fearful of loss, or a sense of accomplishment, your copywriting should make them feel something. Studies show that people buy on emotions, then justify their purchases later. Enough said, right?
- Tell a story. Studies show that the human brain remembers (and gets more emotional ties) to stories. When your copywriting tells a story, it engages your audience and gets them more interested in your brand.
This tip seems strange, but it is all about connection. Stories make your audience form memories about your brand, even if the memories are just a nice story you tell them about people who used your product.
- Don’t be afraid to sprinkle in a little personality. If you ever watched the start of The Corporation, you already know that people think of brands in a similar way as they think of people. They give brands personality, and also start associating their clients with a set of traits.
People dislike brands that don’t seem personal. A little bit of personality adds a lot more trust, especially when it comes to industries like hospitality, tech, fashion, and music. It makes you stand out in a sea of clones.
- Polish your headlines. Headlines are your first impression, so you need to make it a good one. Five times as many people will read your article’s headline as they will your blog post.
If you want to get higher conversions, keep your headlines interesting to your intended audience. Get creative, show them that they can benefit from your knowledge, and make them curious. (This headline caught your attention, didn’t it?)
- Your pictures and format matter too. Did you ever see a great story that was presented in a “wall of text” format? Most of us have, and most of us didn’t want to read it because it looked like such a long, boring thing to read.
Though I’m a word person, I know that looks matter. A well-designed website with crisp graphics, modern layouts, and plenty of whitespace encourages reading. This is especially true with social media, where imagery is king.
- Focus on benefits, but don’t ignore the bad sides. Good copywriting will talk about the benefits of your product or service. Benefits are things like added security, a sense of community, convenience, or status.
The biggest mistake copywriters make, though, comes from not confronting the negative sides of your product. Studies show customers are more likely to buy from companies that openly admit that their product may have some shortcomings, but find a way to spin the negative into a non-issue.
If you want to ease client fears, address any glaring issues and show why they won’t matter using facts.
- Understand the difference between benefits and features. Features are not the same as benefits, and people need to understand that. People typically don’t want to hear about features unless they are extremely interested in the technology or specifications at hand.
Let’s take a look at a cell phone’s features and benefits as an example.
A feature would be facial recognition technology installed on your smartphone. The benefit of this technology would be an added layer of convenience, since you won’t have to worry about typing in a PIN code every time you need to unlock your phone.
In the tech field, the line between features and benefits can be blurred. There are a lot of phone-obsessed people out there. They will want to hear about this feature. Why? Because another benefit to having this feature would be bragging rights about its novelty to friends.
- Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. People are lazy, especially when it comes to reading. When it comes to your website’s main landing pages, less is often more. This is especially true when it comes to online stores. Save your longform for your blog.
Even with blog posts, a typical reader doesn’t require exceptionally heavy research. Most people are fine with minimal information—unless, of course, you want to be an authority in your industry and your audience consists of industry professionals.
Regular consumers just want to know the basics, plus some updates on your industry. Professionals want to know much more, and will expect you to come up with innovative information they have not seen yet.
- Use native English and edit your work. Nothing kills writing like English that sounds broken, stiff, or otherwise foreign. It reeks of a low budget, alienates your brand from buyers, and also tends to spark a lot of distrust in your company.
Truth be told, people love to see great writing. They also love to see writing that’s grammatically correct. It’s a sign of professionalism, intelligence, and the level of care you place into your company’s work. If you want your stuff to convert, have another pair of eyes look over it to ensure you really did keep your grammar game strong.
- Don’t rely on pretty adjectives to sell. When you want to sell your goods and services, stop talking about how nice it is. They already know it’s nice. Start telling people the real specs. Tell them what it does. Action is specific. Action shows you mean business. It stands out in a crowd.
When in doubt, leave it to the professionals. Writing is a complex skill, filled with nuances that take years to master. It’s a skilled trade, not unlike computer programming or graphic design. If you want good results, then you should hire a copywriter that makes a living doing it. More often than not, they will be able to steer you in the right direction.