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6 reasons your copywriting process is a business catalyst Thursday June 15, 2017

We’re all busy people. And that means copywriting for your organisation can end up taking second or third place to focusing on your core activities. Yet the conversations I’ve had over the years with managers and owners of many companies have only strengthened my view of copywriting as a crucial catalyst for every type of organisation. Here are six reasons:

1. The bigger picture
The copywriting conversation frequently starts small and ends big. This is because the detail required for the copywriting process demands clarity on strategy. Copywriting proves to be a catalyst in many cases because it pushes people into looking more closely at their priorities for the future. How can you verbalise your approach if you aren’t clear on where you want to be heading in the next few years? What questions do you need to be asking? In this way, copywriting frequently becomes an important starting point for organisations, instead of simply an end in itself.

2. Staying connected
A copywriting project can often turn out to be just what it seems – a clear cut, one-off project. But at other times it demands an interconnected approach to link it with the rest of an organisation’s marketing strategy. Seems obvious, yet it’s a thing that can often be overlooked. This is why you see companies with a clear message in their website copy that seems to fight against what’s being said in their brand new customer brochure. It can confuse the choices that customers make. Done right, the copywriting process helps to encourage a clear and consistent connection with a company’s overall marketing message – or to adapt and evolve from it, if growth and innovation is part of that company’s game plan.

3. Looking back
In basic terms, the copywriting process can appear straightforward. But with some information missing, it gets more complicated. Either way, copywriting to represent and sell an organisation also involves looking back. However, far forward you want to move, you need to be clear on the messages you communicate about your past and what this says to your ideal audience. This is why it is so valuable to have this insight close by at the start of the copywriting process. It cuts down on the questions (and the soul searching) within an organisation about what they so want to say about their past – and how this will help them get to where they want to be in the future.

4. Take stock
In my experience, companies often require copywriting projects to be completed at high speed. Understandably, they want copy that meets their strategy as quickly as possible. Put there’s often a brief, but clear pause along the way – the one that comes when we discuss where it is exactly they want to be going. What will this copy actually be reaching towards? Sometimes this is clear cut. At other times, a complex conversation ensues. The copywriting process proves to be a catalyst for questions about exactly who these messages are for and how they should fit with the company’s marketing style.

5. Find the message
Companies usually know what they stand for and what is important to them. But the copywriting process often proves to be the catalyst that brings it out into the light. Even a website rewrite or the CEO’s introduction to the new company newsletter can prove to be part of a transition in which attitudes and aspirations that are clear within the organisation are externalised for the first time. This has an impact on your choice of tone of voice and the messages you want to share. In this way, the copywriting process can actively help to turn attitudes held within an organisation into a clear message to the world.

6. Clarify priorities
The copywriting process often turns out to be an important catalyst for clarifying a company’s priorities. Is the main website copy the most important thing to update first if the customer email updates aren’t getting the response you need? It’s surprising how often a copywriting project can inspire a whole range of questions. What are the priorities for what a particular company wants to say? What needs addressing first? What will have the biggest impact?

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, May 2017

Why telling one story isn't enough in content any more Thursday May 18, 2017

Photo of chalks for Nottingham copywriting blog post

I love talking content with my clients. In one recent conversation, a client made a comment about the fact their marketing is receiving a great response thanks the range of content they now provide to industry magazines and websites.

I think that this comment picks up on one of the biggest changes in content in recent years. I’ve noticed that an increasingly big part of my copywriting role is to uncover and communicate multiple stories and perspectives. Having a copywriting strategy which focuses on just one specific story about your brand or business just isn’t enough any more. One story about your brand is limited, repetitive and also more likely to be sales-driven. That’s old-school. If you want to gain a response in your industry, be ready to tell a variety of stories and create a range of perspectives on your business, service or product.

Welcome to the age of multi-faceted content

Multi-faceted content is audience-driven, versatile and flexes into different settings. It reveals different levels about your business. It brings your business closer to your ideal audience by demonstrating how it will change and shape their world. This shift also means that people are more likely to recognise themselves in your content and respond to it.

Creating lots of content doesn’t mean you’re telling many stories

While you may have a blog with plenty of posts, how much of a varied insight is it really providing about your business? Is it giving multi-layered perspectives on your business, or is it simply selling or retelling stories of your success over and over again? One approach is limited and the other has almost unlimited potential.

Why is this such a big deal now?

A big part of this change is the way that online content and industry publications have diversified over the last few years.

The huge world of content segmentation allows people to select content which suits their niche interests. So, if you have multiple content which specialises, your content is more likely to be picked up different audiences. Creating a wider range of content makes your content marketing more flexible and adaptable.

Not only that, but I think that, in opposition to how some people see it, the growth of blogs and other channels is helping to create an appetite for certain types of content, particularly the “how-to” article, guide or white paper. Creating a range of “how to” guides is a powerful way to reach fresh audiences. But it needs to be done right. There are a variety of ways to create new stories which I’ll cover in a follow-up blog post. If you are stuck for ideas, a good copywriter should be able to help you generate different stories to tell about your business.

So, if you want to make your business a success in the content world, make sure you uncover different stories to highlight how it helps people.

Old-style content is fixed to one identity and one approach. New style content shares the value and excitement of your business with a multitude of perspectives. Which way is your business communicating with the world?

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, May 2017

5 ways to take the stress out of your content approvals process Friday May 5, 2017

Image from Nottingham copywriter blog on great copy

Copywriting.

It’s all about the finished product, right?

Well, not exactly.

There’s something that I find a lot of companies overlook when they are considering their copywriting strategy: the rewrites and the tweaks. That’s right, I’m talking about the whole amendments and approvals process. While it’s great to get your content right first time (and that’s something I’m proud to be told I achieve more often than not by my clients), the reality is that there will be changes to get it to exactly where it needs to be.

Being focused on the end result could mean neglecting to ask your copywriter about the all-important rewrite process. Yet this could mean the difference between your content being good – or great. Yet, of all the conversations I’ve had about copywriting over the years, this is a topic I hear the least about. It’s understandable that businesses want to get to the final goal, but the approvals process is all part of making sure that your content is just right. If the markers for the journey towards that destination haven’t been set appropriately, things can go rather wrong…

Here are 5 ways to make your copywriting approvals process less stressful:

1. Choose your leader

Who is going to take the lead on approving your content and giving the final nod on agreed amendments? This is a vital question. After all, we all know what happens with decision-making by committee! The politics of content can be very complex. So, make sure you choose someone internal to head up the copywriting approvals process. And if you think that everyone involved will agree on the changes to be made, you’re probably going to get a bit of a surprise… So be sure to choose a person with the clout and confidence to make the final decision about when the amendments are done.

2. Share nicely

How are you going to share your amendments and comments with your copywriter? Again, the way in which you communicate amendments may not be quite as simple as you think. Make sure you address this before the process begins. What is your copywriter’s preferred way of working? How does that match with your company’s? Most importantly, can you ensure that everyone involved with approving the content will agree the changes and send them all in one go? Not only will this save time, but it will also make the overall copywriting process more effective.

3. Keep it simple

Now, I know I’m stating the obvious when I say it’s important to have a clear process agreed before your copywriter starts work. But you don’t need to make everything super-formal. If you think one phone call will be all it takes to iron out a query about the drafted content, then go for it. Sometimes, a conversation can be far more effective in clarifying a specific point than trying to relay it by email. One thing though: make sure you keep a record of the requested change.

4. Make it a date

While I’m lucky enough to spend my days copywriting, I have to accept the fact that my clients can’t all put their content at the centre of their universe. When you’re out there running your business and going for world domination, it’s natural for timescales to slip. But, if possible, set a definite date for final approvals, amendments and sign-off and you will make for a far more successful copywriting process. Decide on the date and stick to it. Or change it if it begins to look unrealistic early on.

5. Start with the goal and end with the goal

There’s a reason I put this point at the end instead of at the beginning. Because the goal for your copywriting process should just as important at the end of the process as it is at the beginning. Changing goalposts can spell doom for a copywriting project… Just like clear deadlines, keeping your aims for your content rock-solid will make the approvals process much more effective. This is especially important if there are a number of people involved. Your lead person will play a vital role in making sure that the amendments don’t involve changing the overall goal of the content too much. Yes, sometimes there is a place for making big changes, but watch out for one person wanting to make major adjustments to the whole point and purpose of your content. Be sure to remind everyone involved of the key goal of the content throughout the approvals process. Keep that in mind and you should take a lot of the stress out of creating great content for your business!

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, May 2017

Have you noticed what's changed in content? Tuesday May 2, 2017

Image for copywriter blogger

The view has changed…have you noticed?

I find it interesting to consider the many developments I’ve seen over the past 14 years. I’m frequently in conversation with business-owners across many sectors. The biggest thing I’ve noticed in the last few months? The landscape is changing. Change seems to be a constant now. Yes, I know that this is a fact of life, but now it seems to be very much a fact of business (speaking anecdotally, of course).

The reinventors are the winners

Whether it’s in response to the changing economic climate or just the need to stay ahead, I’ve seen many companies reinventing their approach and morphing into a newer version of themselves. Many of these are looking for their content to reflect this evolution, whether they want to update their clients about the developments by email, or they are looking to set themselves apart with a thought provoking blog. These are the companies that are staying ahead.

New just keeps on coming

It’s not enough to stick to the familiar way of doing things any more. Markets are changing. Strategy is changing. So why isn’t content changing to keep up? New channels, new audiences and new opportunities are here. The fact is that content really can’t only be about having a well written blog or a great sounding home page any more (though these things are still very valuable to businesses). The new channels demand content which is as strategic as it is engaging and as relevant as it is credible.

What’s next?

Added to this is the need to stay constantly up to date and in tune with your market’s interests. In my view, people expect a great deal more from content than they did just a few years ago. I’ve been lucky enough to watch how my clients have stayed nimble and updated their copywriting strategy to match their business strategy. There’s much more to come. After all, in just a few years, we’ve already seen changes like the rise of User Generated Content, the explosion of social media and the demand for increasingly sophisticated branded content…

Change isn’t just coming soon. It’s already here. And it’s here to stay.

Are you ready?

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, May 2017

What's the point of putting a personal spin on my content? Monday April 17, 2017

“What’s the point of putting a personal spin on my content?”

Photo for Nottingham copywriting blogger article

This was a real question I was asked recently by a business-owner. I’m still surprised by the lingering misconception that copywriting is simply about creating content which reads well and is grammatically correct. As I’ve blogged before, it’s a view which misses the whole point of copywriting for business. In this conversation, my contact couldn’t see the value of having individual, unique marketing content.

Most of us understand the value of content in connecting with customers through a copywriting strategy. But many people still miss the point of content with a spin which is uniquely theirs. An example of this is the enewsletter which is not only branded to match a company, but which has a distinctive tone of voice and a clear message. Just this week I have received enewsletters from two businesses. In both, the newsletter itself was nicely designed and branded, but the content lacked any individual spark or personality. So in response to the question above, my answer is this:

People-power

People buy from people. I know that that’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Those people are still making a choice about whether they buy into you, even in your content and your copywriting approach. If there’s no real personality for them to connect with, they’re less likely to make a valuable emotional association with your product or service.

Spot the expert

Why bother to make your content more personal? Well, one big driver in the content marketing revolution is about raising your profile as an expert through your copywriting approach. But how can you achieve this without having a personal and individual spin in your content? If you go for generic content, you lose all the value of your experience and knowledge – and so does your audience. Go more personal and you grow important links between your brand and public perception of your expertise.

Value the difference

Putting the personal into your copywriting approach is what highlights the difference between you and other businesses out there. By opting for generic content, you risk sounding very similar to other companies. Similar equals less memorable which of course equals less reason for your audience to respond to your content…When you find and communicate what makes you different, you make yourself distinctive – giving you a distinct advantage in your market. One example of this is an accountancy company in Nottingham who were looking for a more entertaining tone of voice. The copywriting approach we developed to give their content more personality has had great feedback from customers.

Drive response

What’s more compelling – a blank face or a big smile? That’s the equivalent of the difference between well written, but bland content and a copywriting approach that builds in your personality. Even when content is well-written, it can still lack that something special. Factual, clear, simple…that’s all fine. But as human beings, we can’t help reacting to some character, to the evidence of a personality. Building your personality into your copywriting approach helps to create a response. Of course, it needs to be done appropriately and carefully, but you’ll make your copywriting strategy much more effective in the long-run.

Grow relationships

Keeping your content personal has another important advantage. If you carefully plan your personal spin within your copywriting approach, you’ll naturally encourage a more direct relationship with your target audience. Your tone of voice, your calls to actions and other aspects of your content will work much more effectively at creating a connection with your audience.

Time to get personal?

Like to look at ways to make your own copywriting approach more personal? Let me know!

By Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, Nottingham, April 2017

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