Method cleaning products has masterfully hit the mark with their message in the following commercial, and used some brilliant humour to do it. Somehow lecturing and statistics never quite gets the point across nearly as well. I couldn’t stop laughing…
Writing copy for ads and websites is easy. Writing effective copy for ads and websites…now that is much trickier. The goal of all marketing copy is to attract attention, educate and prompt action on the part of the reader. Which is a lot easier said than done. You must first uncover what customers need to know in order to act, then be very clear on what you want them to do. Then you can explore what tone and style will attract attention.
Start With the Destination in Mind
Thereâ€™s an old saying that if you donâ€™t know where youâ€™re going thatâ€™s exactly where youâ€™ll end up. Nowhere. Itâ€™s also a basic principle of marketing that if you donâ€™t know specifically what your marketing is meant to accomplish, it hasnâ€™t a hope of being successful. With copy writing, that means you have to know what you want readers to do about it once theyâ€™ve read your stuff.
Marketing needs to have a reason or itâ€™s just so much blather. What do you want potential customers to do when they see or hear your ad, or read the sign in your window and the info on your website? It might seem obvious, â€œI want them to buy!â€ but there are many different reasons to engage customers.
Do you want them to go to the website to purchase? Call the 1-800 number?Â Attend a community event at the store? Give you feedback on their experience? Become a testimonial? Sign up for your newsletter? Refer a friend? Quality marketing campaigns donâ€™t just ask customers to buy, they also develop a relationship that educates, establishes rapport, and earns respect.
As part of developing relationships with her customers, Rhiannon Cosgrave, owner of Natural Synergy Day Spa in Parksville, uses a monthly newsletter. The newsletter format allows Rhiannon to educate customers about the services she offers while also informing and offering tips on general health and wellbeing.
â€œI do a lot of advertising in many different forms for the business, but ultimately itâ€™s about keeping people engaged so they think of your business first,â€ says Cosgrave.Â And her customers are thinking of her. Cosgrave was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by the Parksville & District Chamber of Commerce this year.
Yes, It IS All About Them
I often say marketing isnâ€™t about telling people what you want them to know. Itâ€™s about knowing what they need to hear. That means you need to know your customer. Put yourself in their shoes. Start with understanding what their main pain points are. What are the challenges you can resolve for them? The only way to know this for sure is to ask them.
Start With the Highlights
Much can be said about any product or service, but often the details are more important to you than the customer. When you want action, it makes most sense to focus on what matters most to your customers. Frankly, it also saves a lot of time and space. When youâ€™re dealing with small ad spaces, itâ€™s vital to get right to the point.
Start with a bullet point list. Often this starts out with the features of the product, the technical details. These may be important, but usually they are not nearly so important as the benefits â€“ how does the customer benefit by choosing your product or service.
In the case of a highly technical product or service specifics of how something works play a larger role, but for most buyers, this is still secondary information. The first step is to address immediate needs. Provide the in-depth as an easily accessible follow up.
Once you have the bullet points, prioritize the information based on what your customers have indicated is most important to them. Ideally, ask people who have already purchased why they did and what helped them make the buying decision. This kind of market researchÂ will ensure that you are not making unfounded assumptions about what motivates your buyer.
Know the Venue
Appropriate tone and style depends on where the content will appear. Ads are typically short and sweet, and often catchy or humourous â€“ you have little space and itâ€™s costly, so use it wisely for greatest impact. Websites content needs to be easy to scan through, for easy reading and quick sound bytes. White papers are an example of in-depth content that may be downloaded from a website and thoroughly read and absorbed.
Choose a style and tone appropriate to both your brand [link to branding article] and where content will be read. Itâ€™s fun to be creative and play with this a little, particularly as something surprising can help attract attention and be memorable.
Being in the fashion industry, Colleen Becker, owner of Frakas, Shops for Women Inc. in Kelowna, knows that nothing attracts her customers like the promise of access to the latest fashions. Her marketing includes an ongoing series of promotions through radio, newspaper and social media that link feature items in her store to the hippest celebrities in Hollywood.
â€œOur ads are enticing and paint a picture of an item we carry in the store and its connection to a celebrity. We try to create an ongoing story that engages the customers and keeps them listening and looking for our ads,â€ says Becker.
Becker, also points out how important it is to follow through on the promises you make in your ads. When her customers come in looking for the earrings that Gwyneth Paltrow was spotted in, theyâ€™ll find a cardboard cut out of Gwynethâ€™s face with the jewelry dangling from her ears. Thereâ€™s no missing those earrings!
Tighten Things Up
Readers Digest Condensed was onto something. Get to the point! Donâ€™t use five words where one will do. Get to the heart of the message. One of reasons visuals are so effective is that imagery is so powerful. When you write, paint a picture with your words.
One of the easiest ways to get hung up and stressed out about writing is by fantasizing that youâ€™ll get it perfect the first time. You wonâ€™t. Relax, and have another go. It may take some practice, but youâ€™ll get there â€“ thatâ€™s what the Draft stamp was invented for.
Writing good copy means the difference between moving prospects to customers or having their eyes glaze over…if they even noticed you at all. If ever in doubt about your ability to capture attention, be sure to bring in an outsider who can provide the objectivity and writing finesse to make your marketing sizzle!
Examples provided by Womenâ€™s Enterprise Centre. Around the corner or around the province, Womenâ€™s Enterprise Centre is helping women start, grow, and succeed in business by offering business advisory services, business skills training, business loans, resources, publications and referrals.
Hah, finally! Scientific proof for my belief that making things easy to read makes them easier to understand and do.
I don’t always get immediate buy-in from clients when I tell them their marketing materials or instruction manuals need an overhaul. Sometimes it’s the cost of the re-do (when in fact poor materials cost you potential sales), a mistaken belief that more is better, or the conviction that because the client understands it — isn’t it obvious? — their customers will too.
Turns out, according to Wray Herbert in American Scientific Mind, A Recipe for Motivation: Easy to Read, Easy to Do, people are more likely to do something if it’s easy to read.
I don’t just mean the words, I also mean the general look and feel.
Words, sentence structure, layout, font, type size. All of these things matter when trying to get people to understand or DO something. The harder it is to read, the less likely people will engage or feel they want to attempt or can accomplish the task.
I know that holds true for me. I often don’t finish reading text that isn’t scanable, single paragraph articles/letters/emails are a pet peeve, and I won’t buy books, leisure or business, if the type is too small or there’s too little white space. Now scientists confirm that, while I may be peculiar, I’m also onto something. (Note: I also appreciate a nice texture to the cover and paper.)
Basically, if you want people to get it or do it, keep it clean and simple on every level.