20 content habits to drop Monday July 3, 2017
A core copywriting truth is that staying visible means staying valued. But there are many routes to fading fast in the quick moving marketing landscape we’re all part of now. Like your content to be noticed? Avoid these 20 errors…
1. Stick with what you’ve got
I’ve seen this many times. Companies work hard to apply a copywriting approach to their marketing. Then they leave it…for months, even years. For a great way to fade from view, just keep re-using the same old content and copywriting approach.
2. Ignore your market
We’re all busy. It’s all too easy to let market changes pass you by when you’re striving to make your business grow. But losing sight of what’s happening in your industry could cost you serious profile.
3. Overlook new copywriting advances
These are very interesting times for copywriting. Not only are new marketing channels emerging, but the way people respond to content is evolving to match. Now is definitely not the time to dismiss new and more flexible ways to reach your audience.
4. Let one aspect of your business decide your copywriting strategy
A focused copywriting approach can do much more for your business than you might think. Yet many companies out there are still only addressing their content around one aspect of their business – drawing in leads through their website or connecting with dormant clients via email marketing, for example. Looking to fade out? Keep your content limited to just one aspect of your business.
5. Use the same old message
It’s great to find a message that works for you, one that combines all that’s great about your company and how you can help your prospects. But it’s never a good idea to get too comfortable with it. Marketing and markets are changing all the time. If you want to get left behind, stick with what’s familiar and never question it.
6. Keep your content generic
Prefer to disappear into the background? Take the view that your content just needs to be well written. Nothing else. Leave personality, expertise and your company’s special qualities out of your copywriting approach. Don’t worry about being memorable and distinctive in your marketplace. Just use bland content that makes you sound the same as everyone else.
7. Cold shoulder new opportunities
As I said earlier, we’re all busy people. But hanging on to what you’ve always done is a really good way to become invisible. Don’t need your marketing to get noticed? Easy. Just stand back from new ways to use content to capture attention.
8. See content as an optional extra
With the power of content conversations and conversion on the rise, it’s surprising how many companies still choose to fade away. This is because they somehow see content as something extra that they can be tack onto their overall business approach at a later date. Keep your copywriting approach at the core of your company strategy to stay visible.
9. Rely on stock phrases
This one links back to point 6, but I’m happy to repeat an important point. Using stock phrases is often what’s most familiar and easy for a business and that’s understandable. But those common words and clichés can help to blur your business presence on the web and elsewhere.
10. Constantly change your mind about what works
Now, I know I said it was important not to cold shoulder new opportunities. But that needs to be balanced with building a plan. It’s great to test out an approach to see if it actually supports your marketing plan, for example a new style of newsletter content or a more creative blog approach. But don’t neglect to set clear boundaries for this and to build it into a coherent plan. Consistency is a powerful quality in the battle to get noticed.
11. React and adapt to one marketing channel, but not the others
It happens all the time. A company excitedly leaps ahead with one marketing channel, for example a new brochure. But funnily enough, the rest of their content still shares the old message. Going back to my previous point, when you’re looking at refreshing one aspect of your content, be sure to assess what might need to change with the rest.
12. Let in-house jargon rule
Jargon doesn’t win new business. Expertise does. So why do so many businesses still rely on industry-speak when they’re trying to reach their customers? Of course, some jargon has to be used sometimes, but there are ways to do this without shutting out the very people you’d like to draw in.
13. Keep it all about you
Love to merge into the background? Ironically, shouting loudly all about ‘you you you’ can have that exact effect. Whether it’s your website home page or your brand new brochure, content that’s all about you ignores an essential opportunity – your chance to pinpoint the problem your prospect would like you to resolve.
14. Don’t look back
Things move fast. It’s tempting to get your content in place just once and leave it there. But as we’ve already seen, the way we reach people is changing every day. To start to fade fast, simply stop looking back at your content and don’t bother thinking about how your ideal audience responds to it.
15. Do it piecemeal
It’s natural to want to address problems as they come up, whether it’s an outdated Contact Us web page or a tired exhibition brochure. But when you deal only with the immediate problem, you overlook the opportunity to refresh your whole approach. It’s also likely to end up costing you more time and effort in the long run. Are you comfortable with a copywriting process with more fade than flavour? Simply change things piecemeal without keeping a perspective on your complete strategy.
16. Ignore the commercial value of content
In case you missed it, there’s a content revolution going on….content marketing, agile marketing, personalised marketing…leading companies have cottoned onto the power of content to build relationships and business in a big way. Happy to be left behind? Underestimate the commercial power of your own content.
17. Separate your content cycle from your sales process
People are still sometimes surprised when I put content and sales strategy in the same sentence. Even though they know copywriting can help drive sales and build audiences, they still don’t always recognise how content can support and inform their salespeople. Keep these two in separate boxes if you want to limit the potential of versatile, targeted content to reach the right people at the right time.
18. Speak the same way to everyone
Not many companies have one particular type of customer. Not many companies have customers who all buy into their product or service at the same stage and with the same motivation. So why do so many companies still use the very same tone of voice and copywriting approach for all the different people they want to reach? OK with being ignored by some of your ideal prospects? Simply speak the same way to all of them, regardless of their particular pains.
19. Make it impersonal
Sadly, content is still sometimes seen as just a way to fill the gaps. Yet those same 400 or 1000 words are an opportunity to get into the heads of the people that matter. Linked to my point above, it’s easy to fade to grey if you see your audience as one faceless mass which only requires a single generic message.
20. Ignore the conversation
Conversation is a very powerful thing. But the vital thing in all good conversation, as one of my friends always liked to say, is not to transmit, but to receive. So, a great route to getting ignored is to forget to listen. That way you can ignore what’s happening with your potential clients and create content that answers your questions, not theirs.
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 any more Thursday May 18, 2017
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
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
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.
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