20 copywriting moves to avoid 20 June 2012

Image of person holding up their hand to the camera
Copywriting is often as much about what you don’t do as what you do do. Here’s a quick list to illustrate what I mean…

1. Stick with the same message
Want limited results from your copywriting? Stick with the same messages because they feel familiar, even if they’re not working for you any more.

2. Be irrelevant
When the conversation isn’t relevant, people turn away. For copywriting that fails to sell your business, forget about relevance and focus purely on telling your prospects about what’s of interest to you.

3. Forget about what they want to hear
What would your audience like to hear? Prevent people from responding to your message by mixing up all the interesting things they would love to know about you with stuff that they’re probably not likely to be interested in. Just because it’s fascinating to you does not mean it’s what your target market wants to hear.

4. Don’t have fun with it
Copywriting to sell is serious. But if you take the fun out of the process of creating and distributing your copy, you take the life out of it too. So aim to enjoy the process and use it as an opportunity to see – and sell – your business afresh.

5. Share every detail
People don’t need to know every single detail about your business to buy into it. Information overload will probably mean that they miss the key facts and fail to remember you further down the line. The secret is to be selective with what you share.

6. Use jargon
Every industry has its jargon. But how much do you need to burden your potential customers with? Will excessive industry-speak in your copy impress or prevent your customers from seeing how valuable you are to them?

7. Overlook your audience
Is your copywriting process purely geared around creating a new brochure or blog post? Or are you actually thinking about the audience at the other end? A great way to leave a poor impression is to overlook the people you’re trying to reach.

8. Expect them to get it straight away
You know your business. And you know how much it could help the customer. But what’s obvious to you may be new to them. It is essential to build in triggers and reminders within your copywriting approach to ensure your customers find out what they need to know.

9. Imitate others
If you need your copywriting to sell your business, why try and ape what your competitors are doing? Whether it’s your tone of voice or your sales approach, your copywriting should reflect what is uniquely valuable about your product or service.

10. Use business-speak
Hiding behind robot language creates a gap between you and your audience. In some cases a detached approach can be relevant, but even then there are ways to use this professional type of tone of voice without distancing your prospects.

11. Be consistently inconsistent
Humans like consistency. We’re made that way. So grow and strengthen your relationships by keeping your copywriting messages consistent and clear.

12. Be bossy
There’s a certain class of business copywriting which seems to exhort rather than encourage its readers. Yet you can use different ways to create content which influences prospects rather than giving them the hard sell.

13. Forget you’re human
Conversation sells. Don’t forget you’re reaching out to human beings so build in touches in your copywriting which will encourage response and interest.

14. Use the same content everywhere
Here’s a common copywriting error: recycling your content for different markets. Yet what is fascinating for one group of prospects may be irrelevant for another. So tailor and target your content whenever you can.

15. Rely on information not inspiration
To slightly mess with an old saying, telling is not the same as selling. Information-laden copywriting will only go so far in selling your services. Every line should serve a purpose in inspiring your prospects to choose your services!

16. Supersize your portions
Like large portions? They may be too much to digest for your audience. It’s great to have a lot to say, but will your readers really be ready to read reams and reams? Exercise a little portion control in your copywriting approach and you’ll sell more effectively.

17. Go for the gimmick
There’s no doubt that done right, the bizarre and the quirky can help create sales. But gimmicky copywriting creates a barrier between you and the people you want to reach. Opt for simple to build an impact without creating confusion.

18. Leave out the personality
A common myth in copywriting for business is to believe that a bland approach will attract new business. A strong style or written ‘personality’ is what will help create more meaningful relationships with your customers. It will also build credibility and trust, two things that come in rather handy for encouraging sales.

19. Be too cool for school
There are times when a distinctly cool copywriting style is exactly what is asked for. But most of the time, a detached, unfriendly tone will simply leave your reader cold.

20. Don’t bother to ask for what you want
The fear of doing the hard sell puts many companies in danger of not asking for what they want. Or they may just neglect to create a clear route for their customer from reading the copy to making the call. Apply key copywriting tactics to ensure you don’t fall into these traps.

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, June 2012

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