Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Smoothing the Rewrite Road: Advice for Copywriters and Copywriting Clients

Here’s a quote from H.G. Wells, who knew a thing or two about writing: "No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft."

I don't know whether Mr Wells was speaking from some hard-earned personal bitterness, but few writers can completely avoid the occasional going over with a red pen (or its digital equivalent). In my work as a freelance marketing copywriter, I don't usually get a lot of rewrite requests. That isn't necessary boasting; for all I know, clients are rewriting my work themselves without mentioning it to me. But I've found that there are certain things both writers and writing clients can do to make the revision process less painful.

Writers: Ask questions, no matter how dumb they may seem. You may be the writing expert, but your clients are the ones with all the industry knowledge and inside data necessary for your project. Get clear on the basics and fill in the informational gaps as needed by asking questions. A quick email or phone call can prevent some major misunderstandings, not only on details but on the overall direction of the entire job.

Clients: Collect your notes -- all of them. You may be tempted to shoot some revision requests to your writer the moment you receive the draft. But if you do, be prepared to fire off another email, and another after that. And then there's your marketing person, and your CEO, and whoever else may care to pile on with suggestions. Nothing confuses a writer worse than dozens of emails, each with different and possibly conflicting rewrite requests. Make sure you have collected everyone's comments and parsed them for consistency before sending that ONE email to your writer.

Both parties: Be prepared and responsive. For writers, that means listening closely and making detailed notes right from the initial consultation. Before launching into the first draft, go over the job with your client to make absolutely sure you're both on the same page. For clients, it means answering the writer's questions and providing additional information in a timely manner. Work together to make that first draft as compelling and accurate as possible, and you may not need to go to a second draft at all. H.G. Wells would approve.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Key Questions to Ask Yourself When Writing Marketing Content

Most business owners recognize the crucial importance of written content in their marketing efforts. If you own a company or manage a brand, you've got to create website, blog, email, and sales letter content that makes a powerful impact and compels the proper action. If you've written your share of content that looked fine at first glance but failed to achieve the results you sought, don't despair -- you might have missed the mark due to some common, correctable missteps. Before you publish or send out your next piece of written marketing content, ask yourself the following key questions.

"Who Will Read This Content?"

If you've had any success in your business, you probably know who falls into your target market and how to reach those individuals most effectively. But in addition to understanding where to find your audience, you must also understand what segment of the population that audience represents. What do your typical buyers worry about or struggle with? What level of education do they have? What values do they uphold? What priorities influence their shopping choices? If you can't answer these questions with confidence, work with a marketing strategist to create an imaginary construct called a buyer persona. You now have an imaginary ideal customer to write for -- which means you write much more targeted content.

"What Benefit Does This Content Provide?"

Once you know the frustrations, concerns, and other pain points that make life more difficult for your ideal buyer. Have you addressed these pain points in your marketing content? Few approaches grab someone's attention more firmly and easily than sympathy for that person's situation. When you show that you know your audience's problems, you can position yourself as the solution to those problems. For instance, if you sell mattresses, you want to talk about the misery of restless nights, chronic back pain, and other issues that cause people to shop for an alternative to the torture device they currently endure night after night -- and then offer that alternative.

"Does the Content Inspire Responses?"

If you think of marketing content as a kind of one-way address system, think again. While your buyers can't intercept your message or reply to it in real time, you can (and should) evoke the illusion of a conversation. One of the more effective copywriting tricks in this regard involves asking question after question: "Do you hate scrubbing gunk off your dishes after every meal? Do you sigh when you see white spots on your glasses after you pull them out of the washing machine?" Et cetera. You can practically hear the aggravated audience member yelling "Yes! One hundred percent!" in reply. Notice that "Yes," by the way. When you keep throwing out questions with obvious "Yes" answers, you're achieving two important goals. First, you're using positive language instead of negative language, even when describing negative scenarios. (You don't want to establish yourself as a Debby Downer.) Second, you're getting your audience member to agree with you again and again, establishing that you're both on the same wavelength. Next stop, sale!

"Have I Trimmed All the Fat?"

Sometimes a perfectly acceptable-looking draft can reveal small but telling weaknesses on careful review. Check your marketing content thoroughly for any little extra verbiage that might dilute your message or bog down the flow. For example, do you see an "in order to" where a simple "to" would do the job? Look for any ways you could make your message more compact. Replacing passive phrase constructions with active ones should help you trim this fat while also adding power to your message. While you're at it, replace any needlessly fancy vocabulary with clear, plain words. The changes might prove as simple as "use" instead of "utilize," but the end results should include clearer, more readable text and a more direct impact.

Would you rather feel assured that your marketing content will always hit the mark without having to serve as your own editor and proofreader? Let a professional copywriter craft your content for you! Contact me today to learn more and get started on the easy path to greater marketing success.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Winter Marketing Content for a Happier New Year

Winter means different things to different people. For much of the country, this winter has meant devastating snowstorms and countless flight cancellations. Many folks think of winter as a time for seasonal sports, cozy evenings by the fire, or getting an early start on those annual tax returns. But what does winter mean for your business? Does your industry naturally lend itself to this time of year, or do you find yourself wishing your target market would thaw out a bit faster than the local scenery? Either way, you can bring in more revenue by using the season in your marketing content. Here are some tips and tricks for turning winter's chill into a profitable hot streak.

Create Holiday-Themed Promotions

While it's true that the super-hot shopping holidays such as Black Friday, Hanukka, and Christmas have passed, winter still offers some opportunities for holiday-based marketing. For instance, many businesses offer sales and other special deals during the MLK Day weekend, while others hop on the humor bandwagon with Groundhog Day promotions. Valentine's Day offers all kinds of marketing opportunities. Then there are the less well-known observances such as Dress Up Your Pet Day, National Popcorn Day, National Cheese Lover's Days, National Chocolate Cake Day, and National Puzzle Day -- and that's just counting January. Can you see how some businesses might profit by launching email, direct mail, and social media campaigns to promote their products and services on those days? Might your business be among them?

Appeal to Winter Comfort and Utility

Winter obviously gets a lot colder in some parts of the U.S. than in others, but that doesn't stop a lot of us Southerners from complaining whenever the mercury drops below flip-flop temperatures. Depending on your geographic reach, your target audience may be searching for everything from snow shovels and thermal gloves to windshield de-icer -- or they may simply feel like stocking up on hot chocolate, firewood, and cold/flu remedies. Even if you sell your products and services all year round, you may find some clever ways to attach their benefits to seasonal wants and needs. How can your offerings make people feel happier or more comfortable this winter? That's the message you want to build your marketing content around.

Use Seasonal Metaphors

Maybe you can't think of any immediate or obvious association between your products or services and the winter months. That's when some cute metaphors can step in to save the day. For instance, you might encourage your audience to "come in from the cold" and take advantage of a red-hot deal. Or you could use the new calendar as a springboard for promoting products and services that help your customers get a fresh start on a great new year. Leverage the excitement and potential of the year to come through your blog posts, email campaigns, TV/radio spots, and print ads.

Winter can be bleak and hostile, or it can introduce a whole vista of marketing options and strategies for your business. Once you've put your winter marketing plan in place, all you'll need is the visual and written content. A skilled graphic designer can provide the former, while an experienced freelance copywriter like me can provide the latter. So contact me, and let's get started on a winter wonderland of profits for your business!