20 danger points to avoid in copywriting for innovation 2 November 2018

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Writing or planning on copywriting about something new? Watch out for these classic danger points along the way:

1. Information overload
This is a danger point I often see at the start of the copywriting process for a new product or service. Companies simply impart information about themselves – instead of engaging people in what they have to offer. Of course you want to tell people about your service, but don’t forget to sell it as well.

2. Drowning in detail
Linked to the danger point above, I am often asked to help at the stage where a business-owner has put copy together, but they know that there’s something not quite right about it. This odd element in copywriting often turns out to be the amount of detail within the content. While it is important to share the value of the product or service, the bigger picture is more likely to interest people in the first instance.

3. The me me me show
This is another classic danger point in which the copywriting process becomes too focused on the business and what it’s about – instead of starting with what the potential users of this new service will want to know.

4. Style stagnation
It’s amazing how frequently I see new businesses start out with content that sounds exactly like the content of another business. This is the danger point where business-owners communicate about their company in their copywriting as if it’s been around forever. There’s no sense of the exciting to show that something innovative has arrived.

5. Novelty Never Neverland
The converse of the danger point outlined above is where the copywriting process creates content that is too focused on communicating just how new and exciting the product is. When this is overdone for effect, it can draw attention away from other important messages about the business.

6. No exit
Why communicate about your innovation – and then fail to tell people how they can find out more? This is the mystery of the missing call to action. There’s the big lead up, the successful story and then… nothing. Or there’s just a confusing call to action – or one that takes the potential customer, for example, to a general web page, rather than a targeted landing page.

7. Best for worst
This is the one where the copywriting simply blasts out the importance of the new business. Just like a person with similar qualities, this is likely to get a potential customer moving quickly away from the content. Not only does the over-inflated hard sell put people off, it can also undermine the credibility of a business.

8. Technical domination
Many new innovations have an important technical focus. This is great, but the copywriting process needs to achieve a clever balance between the technical and the non-technical, depending on the market you’re aiming for, rather than talking in robot language.

9 No final chapter
The copywriting process can be tricky one for a new product or service, so it can be tempting to leave it as an unfinished job to come back to at a later stage. This follow-up stage often gets overlooked, leaving the innovation with content that is out of date or just incomplete.

10. Piggy in the middle
Copywriting for a new project is often a major milestone in a period of transition for a company. The content for a new website or brochure, for example, is what stands between their previous approach and their new one. Yet their content can often end up representing this middle place, instead of speaking for their future strategy.

11. Shying away from selling
All too often, I am asked to edit content that is too shy to do its job. This is where the business-owner has tried to communicate what they do in their copywriting process, but has held back from sharing the really good stuff, because they view it as inappropriate or ‘too much’.

12. Camouflage chameleon
The process of copywriting for something new is sometimes done in disguise. Under the cover of strangely familiar terminology, it makes its way unnoticed into the world. Too many new companies start out by communicating with a style or tone of voice that is already used by their competitors.

13. One outfit for every occasion
So many new businesses start out with copywriting that they expect with fit with every single format, audience and occasion. This may work for some of their audiences some of the time, it doesn’t work all of the time and can undermine their message.

14. Context failure
I often see this danger point when I’m editing a company’s copy. This is context failure where the copywriting is expected to launch something new and unfamiliar, without a sense of context and how the product or service relates to what’s been done before.

15. Old problems need new answers
Writing about a new business demands a mix of the old and the new. Creating real value in copywriting comes from linking your new product or service with the ‘old’ or long-standing problem that’s affecting your reader.

16. Buy now!
I have seen business-owners who, in their enthusiasm in the copywriting process, push their reader towards their new product or service, exhorting them of its value, without providing the space and gentler persuasion to encourage potential customers to make up their own minds.

17. The forgotten story
So many innovations start with a powerful story – and so many come without that story connected with their copywriting. The tale behind the new can be a big part of creating interest, but it’s still often an afterthought.

18. Message spaghetti
Have you ever seen copy with message spaghetti? You have if you’ve read content that communicates too many messages about a new product or service, leaving you confused. This is copywriting that tries to cover every base and every point of interest for each and every single potential customer.

19. All new
For some businesses, the copywriting process becomes focused on the fact that the product or service is new and that there is some intrinsic value in this point alone. There is a great deal to be unpacked from the novelty of the innovation, but repeating in different ways that it’s new is not the best way to do it.

20. Keeping it unreal
I’ve worked with companies that have started the copywriting process themselves only to find that, somehow, their content does not convince. On a closer look, this is often because they have communicated the various points and features, but have failed to make the innovation real and relatable.

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, November 2018

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