Here’s one of the best questions I’ve ever been asked in a meeting: what is the key to successful copywriting?
I answered with just one word.
There’s so much in that little word. Because, without relevance, your copywriting strategy is in trouble.
So, what do I actually mean by relevance? I’m talking about content that is laser-focused on the people you want to reach. Content that’s designed and crafted to speak exactly to your demographic. But at the same time is true and consistent to your brand and business.
5 ways to make your content more relevant
So, where do you start with adapting your copywriting approach to create more relevant content?
1. Make the audience the centre of your world (and your words)
When you’re planning your content, clearly picture your audience. You’ve done your research into who you’re creating content for. Now imagine they are in front of you as you build that copywriting plan. Picture them so clearly, it feels like they’re in the room with you. See the topic from their point of view. Keep your mind on what they like, what they want and what interests them. In this process, they are the centre of your world. I find this really helps to focus my mind. Especially when I write for multiple audiences in the space of one day!
2. Stay on message
Start with the messages you want your audience to take in and shape your content around them. Don’t overload the content. Be selective. Be ruthless. It’s tempting to include lots of information, but that will get in the way of the content itself. As I always say on this blog, less is more.
3. Ask this one question again and again (and again)
As you develop your content, keep asking “What do you want to know?” of your target audience. Ask it again. Then, once your content is finished, ask of every line and paragraph. And if something seems unnecessary, delete it. Question everything you do write. Is it truly relevant? Is it going to be of value to that group of people?
4. Travel the journey
Relevance is a shifting beast. It’s not fixed or frozen. So, you start with one sense of what’s relevant to your audience, but your job is to take them on a journey. Because relevance changes. As it’s a process, what’s important to your reader should evolve as the messaging in your content progresses. A good copywriting approach means being dedicated to the audience’s interests before they take on your message – and staying true to their needs right to the end of the content.
5. Mind your language
There was no way I could write about relevance without talking about tone of voice. The messages and the language need to match. So, mind your words. Check whether the tone of voice you use is speaking to the right people. Is humour appropriate? Are these busy types who need to get the message fast? Your tone of voice should be crafted around each type of audience. Consider whether your voice needs to be urgent, chatty, casual, calm, serious… But be sure to stay relevant to your brand at the same time.
A lot goes into keeping your copywriting approach relevant. So, why bother? Because the alternative is content which seems so general, so bland, so one-size-fits-all that you promptly forget what it was attempting to say.
Trying to please everyone is not an option. Choose your audience and shape your content around it. Think of it as planning a great party. Would you open the door and invite everyone and anyone in? Probably not. You create a guest list and look forward to seeing the people you’ve chosen. Your content is your party and your readers are your guests. Make them feel welcome.
Let’s look at what happens when content falls short of its audience, based on some real-life examples I’ve seen:
The brand story with something missing
So, a company needed some core business boilerplate content. They had a strong sense of identity and who they were there to help. But their boilerplate content, which was meant to be adapted for brochures, presentations, social media etc, was saying too much. It had more baggage than Gatwick Airport at half-term. It covered so many angles it must have been constructed with a set square. The relevance was obscured amid a desire to tell everyone everything about their great services. But not only were the messages lost. The audience was too.
The website that relevance forgot
Here’s another example of when relevance was left behind… brand content for a great website redesign. Something was missing. The content was too general and too focused on having a laugh rather than making an impact. It was fairly loyal to the brand itself but had forgotten to communicate the company’s potential value to the audience.
The blog post that misspoke to the technical experts
Another example I’ve seen is a blog post which was aimed at technical specialists but covered far too much detail. The company was worried about not sharing all the information and was trying to say too much. Once we had clarified the best audience and the right messages, the blog post could be honed and adapted to appeal to, rather than speak down to, the experts.
Your audience is everything
Right now, everyone wants more value from their marketing approach. So hard working content is more important than ever.
If you’re looking to make your copywriting approach more powerful, ask yourself this question: is your content designed to be as relevant as possible to the people you need to reach?
Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, June 2022