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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

4 ways to sound the same as everyone else Monday March 6, 2017

Image for Nottingham copywriting blogger
When you read a business website or brochure, do you ever get the feeling you’ve read it before? Or perhaps you sometimes have a weird sense of déjà vu about a particular company’s marketing message… It’s amazing how often certain phrases come up in communications, turning potentially unique, interesting content into something more staid and over-familiar.

Here are just four of my copywriter’s bugbears, the words that just won’t go away. These may be phrases I’ve worked on replacing or renewing for clients over the years – or simply words I’d like to see the back of. Being a copywriter, I see it as my job to create a strong message with fresh content. Because who wants to sound the same as everyone else?

1) “Small enough to care, big enough to do the job.”

…or variations on this theme. Over the years, this is one that has made me turn several times from copywriter to chief negotiator. It’s an important message with a great deal of value for many different companies. But why risk sounding the same as thousands of other businesses out there? As a copywriter, can I suggest finding a fresh way to communicate this important message so that people recognise what you have to offer – and distinguish you from other businesses in your market? So your business is flexible and able to offer a great service? Great. There are ways to communicate that message without using the same familiar words. As a copywriter, I see it as my job to find alternatives to the stock phrases.

2) “Your local…”

Your local shop, your local business – you know the drill. This is another one that has transformed me from copywriter to negotiator over the years. Yes, it’s a big selling point (if your market is truly local), but it’s another example of copy in uniform. It’s a message that pops up in all sorts of places. You’ll probably see it sometime this week. But what does it actually mean? I understand why some of my clients have wanted to use it. But after discussion, we’ve come to an agreement that there are other ways to get across the value of being close nearby – ways that can be more helpful and more focused than ‘your local’. I’ve applied my copywriter’s perspective to help companies find a more special way to say they’re close by.

3) “In the comfort of your own home”

Thankfully, this is one I don’t come across very often. But I can’t help noticing it’s still very popular on TV adverts. (You know, the ones with the lovely arm chairs and the instructions to ‘pay no money now’). The reason that this one gets to me, aside from my professional angle as a copywriter, is the obviousness of the statement (of course I’m going to enjoy the armchair in the comfort of my own home! Where else would I enjoy it? In the comfort of my own garden? In the comfort of my nearest supermarket?). Rantings aside, my copywriter’s-eye view sees this phrase as a classic example of copywriting in uniform. It’s boil in the bag wording that makes the product or service sound the same as all the rest. Yes, it delivers an obvious message, but it doesn’t say anything new and fresh about the product.

4) “We’re passionate about…”

Passionate is great. But we know you’re passionate about your particular service or product. Why else would you be doing what you do? It’s a key sentiment to share, but why share it so obviously? And why state it when you can show it? As a copywriter, I look at ways to express that passion through the underlying messages of the copy and the points I make about a business. Then people can sense the passion – and why they should respond to it. Being a copywriter doesn’t simply mean I want to sum things up in words. I look for new ways to get across important messages. I could say I’m passionate about it, but I won’t. Hopefully that’s come across already.

Why recycle?
So there they are. Just a few of my least favourite things (copy-wise, anyway). When there’s so much potential to say something distinctive, why recycle the words everyone else uses? But I’m speaking from my copywriter’s soapbox on this. What’s your view? Agree? Totally disagree? Have I trampled over one of your all-time favourite phrases? Let me know.

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

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