If I had to define the heart of copywriting, I’d say that it lies in saying what needs to be said in a distinctive, fresh and relevant way. But how do you gain that viewpoint upgrade when you’re a business-owner and very close to your subject?
The key is to step back and look again at your business – from a new angle. Here are just a few great reasons to reinvent your perspective:
1. Convert cliché to cool
Just one of the many advantages of approaching your topic from a different angle is that it helps you to avoid the clichés that will keep your content sounding safe and familiar. When you think differently, you tend to communicate in different ways too. This will help your copywriting approach stay more up to date and alive.
2. Turn the new into more content views
Many businesses are familiar territory. We all think we know what an accountant does, or a building supplies company…or a dog walking business…but when we take a new view on a topic that’s close to us, we discover new ways of telling the world what’s important about it. Cut through the familiar and you’re much more likely to define yourself from your competition.
3. Enjoy a tone of voice upgrade
When you stay with the same viewpoint, you tend to stay with the same style. A new view on your business can throw up some really interesting possibilities for your tone of voice. Look again and you’ll probably find there are some great new ways to talk about what you do. Instead of the factual and the familiar, perhaps it’s time to enjoy the benefits of a voice that is warmer and more about your audience than about you.
4. See it from the other side
A great way to update your copywriting approach is to stop thinking so hard about your business and try to see how your market views it. Look again at what’s really important about what you do – from your customers’ perspective. This will give you the fresh perspective to uncover what it is that makes your product or service of value to others
5. Stay up to date
Are you really selling all that your business has to offer – or are you just telling an out of date story? Stepping back can help you look past the limits of your own customary way of looking at and talking about your business.
6. Speak humanese
Sticking with the same old view could be keeping something crucial out of your copywriting approach – the human touch. Stay with the same view of your subject and you can end up hiding away the heart of your business. When you change your perspective on your topic, you can transform over-familiar robot-speak into content that reaches people.
7. Clarify the business benefits
There’s a conversation I’ve had with business-owners many, many times. It’s the one where I ask them what’s special about their business. And they tell me that they don’t know (although they really do). Scrutinising your product or service from a fresh angle can help you uncover – and define in your content – what is important about your business.
8. Fit your format
When we stay with the same old story, stale is more likely to take over. So too for our copywriting approach. Stepping back can completely refresh the way you convey your marketing message, whether it’s for a blog post, a tweet or a client proposal. Change your angle and you can create more flexibility in the way you see – and write about – your business.
9. Bring humour back
A sad thing happens when we hold on to an outdated view of a topic. We tend to lose humour and emotional impact when we write about. Drop your familiar view and you’ll probably start to find more humorous (if that’s appropriate, of course) or more inviting ways to talk about what you do.
10. Reinvent the everyday
It’s simple. Reinventing your view on a subject allows you to reinvent what you say about it. I should know. I’ve written for some sectors many times over. But what I love is the challenge of taking a new view each time to uncover what is uniquely special about that product or service. Each new take on a topic is an opportunity to see and state that subject in a whole new way.
Not found your new perspective yet?
Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, January 2016
My 10 wishes for business content in 2016 44 days ago
So here we are, on the cusp of a brand new year. These are my top wishes for business content in 2016…
1. Web and mobile become more of a priority
With mobile use on the rise and Mobilegeddon a major landmark of 2015, you could assume that all business-owners would be putting search and online top of their priority list. Sadly, this is not the case. Many businesses are still missing out on the benefits of better search rankings and making it less likely that people will actually read their content once they find their site. I’d love to see 2016 as the year in which businesses adapt their content message and format to make the most of the growing advantages of online search.
2. Customer experience gains more profile
I’ve written before about the seemingly unstoppable rise of User-Generated Content (UGC) and there’s a reason for that. Yet many businesses are still overlooking the value of this type of content. I can already see UCG becoming part of a cultural shift in which customers expect to be able to share experiences with each other. I’d be happy to see more and more businesses of all sizes start to take this on board, on a scale which suits them and their marketing approach. This could be as simple as requesting testimonials with the right to share them on social media or offering an incentive for customers when they share a photo of themselves with a specific product. Let’s make 2016 the year in which the customer has more of a voice!
3. Make the move from telling to selling
OK, this one is on my new year wish list at the end of every December, but you can’t blame a copywriter for trying! Let’s hope that 2016 really is the year that more companies make an active effort to bring their products or services to life in a way that’s entertaining and engaging. Let’s also hope that more and more customers will begin to see how great those companies are with case studies, examples, testimonials, User-Generated Content etc.
4. Wave bye-bye to jargon
Yes, it’s another classic new year wish from me! I’d love to see less content relying on jargon in an effort to sound authoritative. There are ways to achieve that kind of impact without sounding as if a dictionary of gobbledygook has been consumed! It’s great to hear about various organisations around the world start to embrace plain English. Isn’t it time we saw more businesses doing the same thing and finally saying farewell to jargon?
5. Cut out the clutter
Closely linked to the above point, will we finally see more business-owners do a content detox in the year to come? I hope so. There still seems to be so much content around that relies in too many words to achieve its aims. I’d like 2016 to be the year in which businesses really simplify how they communicate with their customers, with the goal of connecting more effectively with the people they want to reach. Isn’t that what content is all about?
6. Benefit from LinkedIn
Opportunities in marketing content are growing all the time. One of the biggest in 2015 was the new LinkedIn publishing platform. In fact, by the summer there were already more than 1 million unique publishers on the blogging platform! It would be great to see 2016 as the year in which businesses of all sizes embrace the new publishing opportunities offered by LinkedIn.
7. Make more of existing content
Many business-owners see creating content as a never-ending task. I know because I’ve reassured many of them over the years that this is not the case. Yes, creating content demands a strategy and a creative approach. But there is a way to use existing content to make the job easier. I’d really like to see more business-owners take this message on board in 2016 so that they can enjoy greater results with less effort! This means reviewing the content you’ve produced in the past and seeing how you can update it. There are all kinds of ways to review your copywriting strategy to making your existing content work harder. Roll on 2016!
8. Highlight the real benefits of the business
Again, this point is one that we would all like to think is done and done. Not so. I still see so many companies explaining what they do – without communicating why they are the best choice! It seems surprising, but there it is. One of my wishes for 2016 is that more companies focus on creating content in which every word, every paragraph, every full stop, is focused on telling the world exactly why they are the best choice! I’d love to see more companies look at transforming the facts about what they do into the many important reasons to buy into their service or product.
9. Care more about creating a response
Earning a response from your audience is the whole point of content, right? So why does so much business content still neglect this? Take a look through many a business website and you’ll see web pages without calls to action or incentives to respond. Let’s bid farewell to this in 2016 and say hello to lots of relevant, strategic calls to action!
10. Keep content relevant to right now
OK, so surely the point of content is to be up to date with what’s happening right now, but look around and what can you see? Out of date websites which refer to a business as it was five or even ten years ago, blogs that were last updated six months ago… sadly these kinds of sights are all too familiar. I’d love to see that change in the new year. Not just in terms of keeping content up to date, but also in making sure that content truly reflects the personality, offer and aspirations of a business as it is now. Business isn’t static, so why should business content be? My wish is for more companies to regularly review their copywriting strategy so that it keeps up with their evolution.
Ready to make 2016 a happy new year for your content? Let’s make time to have a conversation!
Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, Nottingham, December 2015
5 great videos on the power of storytelling 46 days ago
“Let me tell you a story…. “
Few other phrases create such instant interest and anticipation in another person. That’s because we human beings are hardwired to respond to stories, from our favourite fairy tale when we’re young to the tale of other people’s lives when we’re older. A story well told captures the imagination long after it has been shared. No wonder then that the most successful companies thrive through the tales that they tell. Here are 5 videos that explore the power of the story…
1. How to find your brand’s story
What is brand storytelling? How does a business actually go about telling a story that resonates with the right people? This video provides a handy little introduction to the subject.
2. Tips and idea for powerful storytelling
Wish you could get more from your content marketing approach with stories? This video shares some good tips with a clear focus on quality over quantity, both in terms of copywriting and strategy.
3. Telling stories that subvert convention
Stories sell products – when they’re told right. In this video, a leading marketer shares how he applied the power of brand storytelling to help a winemaker far exceed expectations.
4. Why stories matter more than ever
It has never been more important for business content to tell great stories. That’s why companies need to share their message in more interesting and inventive ways, as discussed in this video.
5. How to get business storytelling right
People remember stories better than statistics, as this video reminds us. It also looks at examples of what happens when great brands create interest and loyalty through storytelling.
Want to know more about the power of storytelling in copywriting and content? Here is Marketing Week’s view of the UK’s top storytelling brands of 2015. I also like this overview from the Guardian on the ten rules of brand storytelling.
Need help with creating content to bring the story of your business to life in 2016? Let’s talk.
Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, Nottingham, December 2015
Merry Christmas from Green Light! 49 days ago
Just like the familiar old Christmas decorations or seasonal recipe, I’m wheeling out my favourite Christmas photo above, as in previous years.
Like the ghost of strange punctuation past, I’ll leave you with the surprising suggestion of an apostrophe in ‘bookings’ and even in ‘Christmas’, as I wish you a very merry – and relaxing – festive season!
Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, Nottingham, December 2015
Words, words, words… what better way of celebrating Green Light Copywriting’s 12th birthday than with 12 of the world’s most unusual and wonderful words. While some are English and some aren’t, what they all do is express something of the experiences that have shaped the past 12 years.
Originating from Greece, Meraki is a wonderful word which means to do something with creativity or to really put yourself into your work. At the risk of sounding cheesy, this is something I’ve always aimed to do with my copywriting services, whether it’s for a manufacturing company or an accountancy firm. But more importantly than putting myself into it, I’ve aimed to put the client into it. That’s because copywriting isn’t simply the process of writing well. It’s the art of expressing a company’s character, like the ghost blog posts that always sound like my clients, rather than me!
Mudita, a lovely Pali word, is all about finding enjoyment in the happiness of others. When I write for businesses, I’m not just producing content which fills the brief, but doing my best to support my client’s goals, be it to speak more dynamically online or to increase awareness of their new products. Mudita is the reason I’ve really enjoyed building up long-term relationships with clients.
Lagom. This funny little Swedish word means just the right amount – no more and no less. Which is how you could sum up copywriting – creating a message which fits just right. That’s all I need to say on that one.
I’m a proud sufferer of logolepsy. Yes, I’m obsessed with words. It’s this fixation which first sparked my freelance career and then the 12 years (so far) of Green Light Copywriting. And it’s not going away any time soon.
We’ve all met a blatherskite – the person who talks and talks, but by the end of the conversation you’re no clearer about who they are or what they do. So too with business content which goes on and on, but leaves the reader no closer to understanding exactly why they should use that company’s services. I’ve made it my mission in the past 12 years to banish blatherskites from the world of business content.
What a delicious word (oops, my logolepsy is showing again). Sort of like succulent, but even better. Luculent refers to writing or speech which is clearly expressed. I’ve been delighted to devote the last 12 years to bringing luculence into the world of business communications.
This odd word refers to the kind of language which makes full use of jargon or vagueness to avoid making a clear statement. Quite clearly, a big part of my role as a copywriter in the past 12 years and onwards is fighting against camouflanguage and jargon.
This delicious word means the day before yesterday. It is the point in time at which many clients need their content. All part of the service.
Selcouth is a word that expresses itself, to some extent. That’s because this unusual old word actually means rare, strange or wonderful. I’ve had the delight of working with many unusual companies over the last 12 years. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with lots of wonderful people. Speaking of wonderful, I lost a special friend very suddenly at the start of this year. But that description’s doing him a disservice. He wasn’t just a true friend, he was my confidante and adviser on many aspects of life and work. And he shared my love of words and daft puns. I was fortunate to know one as selcouth as him.
This interesting German word refers to the character of a language or an intuitive feeling for what is linguistically appropriate. Appropriate isn’t something that gets a lot of airtime in the world of business content, yet it applies to both to copywriting tone of voice and to the messages we choose. Get these wrong and you can do lasting damage to your business.
Business content that isn’t swasivious isn’t going to get very far. Swasivious means something that is agreeable or persuasive and certainly applies to the role of copywriting. Not from the hard-sell point of view, of course, but from the perspective of creating a positive and enduring connection with the reader and building from there.
How could I resist? One of the longest words in the English language, floccinaucinihilipilification, means the estimation of something as having no value. Its use in the House of Commons in 2012 even earned an MP a place in the record books! I’ve been lucky enough over the past 12 years of Green Light Copywriting (and before that) to help make sure that companies are recognised for their true value. It’s my job to draw out and express exactly what is valuable about a business and bring it into their content. But I’ve also been hard at work creating content which is of value both to businesses and to their customers. Here’s to the next 12 years!
Now I’m going to have a birthday drink and see if I can still say “floccinaucinihilipilification”…
Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, Nottingham, September 2015