Why Let Poor Copy Damage your Brand Identity?

Brand Identity DamageI recently heard of a local Merseyside business having a redesign and relaunch of their website. They went for the full works: new logo, new brand colours, new everything. They are a local company I am a customer of and I was looking forward to seeing their new image. On launch day I was initially impressed, the site looks fantastic. It is designed to perfection to suit their brand and still suits their customers (me being one). Unfortunately the copy did not match the imagery and I was left a little disappointed.

There was nothing wrong with the copy in that it made sense, was grammatically correct and to all intents and purposes was perfectly fine. The problem lies in its blandness. It let down their whole image and wasn’t recognisable as this particular company speaking about their ace products. It could have been anyone. Most of it was copied over from the old site and so didn’t represent anything new. The remainder was bland and could be found anywhere. It looked like it had been thrown together at the last minute or filched from elsewhere with their brand name crow barred in to make sense.

It was so disappointing as it was clear the company had gone to a huge amount of effort to create a design which spoke to their customers and represented their brand. They just decided to give up when it came to telling a story and promoting a message to match the visuals.

Choosing a Freelance Copywriter

Freelance CopywriterThis is where I want to put on a cheesy American accent and say: “Congratulations for deciding your business needs a freelance copywriter.” I won’t though, instead I’ll try and be a bit more sensible and explain what to keep in mind when choosing a freelancer to work with.

It’s hardly a surprise that I’m going to recommend that you use a freelance copywriter whenever you need content and don’t have the time/capacity to get it done. Knowing you need a freelancer on your side is one thing, it’s another to find one who suits your business. I’d never suggest there are copywriters out there who aren’t doing a great job, I know quite a few and they’re all pretty awesome. However, I would suggest that some people are a better fit with some clients than others.

Selling with Words: My Approach to Product Description Writing

When someone goes online to buy something they are usually first convinced by the visuals. You’ve got to get the product photography right if you’re going to sell stuff and sell it well but over the last 12-18 months I’ve done a lot of product description writing and I’ve come to realise just how important the words are too. I’d never really thought about it before. Yes, I’ve bought many things (TOO many things) online but when it came to reading about the things I was buying, I barely realised I was doing it but since writing so many product descriptions, for many different kinds of retailer, now I really notice them.

Product description writing is different to your average blog or article. I’ve found myself needing to look at things from a completely new perspective and this is my usual process:

What can you do in an Hour?

This is a blog post which is mainly about copywriting rates, freelancing rates, any kind of rates really. How much you charge for what you do. I get an email every now and again asking for ‘freelancing tips’ or ‘advice about getting into freelance copywriting’ and these emails inevitably include questions about costings and rates and how much you should be charging people. It’s personal, to a point, although I make my rates quite clear, and I’m quite flexible, things can be fiddled with and moved about and I’m not set in stone with anything, except the fact that I don’t work by the hour.

Why Bee Copy?

Bee Copy has been sitting at the back of my mind for some time. It first came about when I knew I wanted (probably needed if I’m honest) a new website design as for all my tinkering ability I’m not any kind of web designer and therefore, I felt my site and my services were being let down by the half-OK, kind of a bit hobbyist design that I was running on. Of course I believe content is the most important thing on any site but if the design is a bit pants, people do switch off, I know that too. With the need for a new design and approaching my fifth year as a freelancer I thought it could be a good time to make a completely fresh start.

A fresh start could easily have been simply working under my name, advertising myself that way, after all I haven’t changed and it’s still me typing away, researching and creating your content but I felt like I wanted a new identity, a bit like The Write Sprite took me through my first four years in copywriting. I decided Bee Copy was the best choice for my fifth.

Why Duplicate Copy Sucks

When writing content or your website, blog or any online source, marketers, copywriters and pretty much anyone who works online will tell you how important it is that your content is unique. Unique is one of those buzz words and you may see it so often it gets a bit boring but it’s true, unique, original content will help your website be found and will ensure you’re not contravening any of the complex rules Google and other search engines put in place to ensure only the best results show up in their searches.

Liverpool in Business

Now and then I end up thinking and then writing about where I’m based and despite always (and I mean always) moaning that everything happens in London and how this makes me feel completely disenfranchised as visiting London is a battle. I recognise that really, things could be a lot worse and Liverpool isn’t all that bad at all.

THAT Copy: Making the “Boring” Better

It’s not for me to decide what’s boring or not. There are many things I think are boring which you won’t think are boring and in 90% of cases work which initially seems like it might be boring because the subject matter is, not quite your usual easy-to-promote-and-sell product or service, it actually turns out to be more interesting because of the research involved. Did I mention I love research? It is one of the best bits of this job.

Anyway, THAT copy is something all copywriters and I’d say many eCommerce shop owners and other online business people come across all the time. The copy that needs writing but it’s a subject which seems impossible to make exciting, interesting or even promote in anyway at all. Something which may be considered boring or difficult or hard to market isn’t impossible though. It can be done. Before I explain how I think it can be done I’ll just mention an event I got involved with.

Don’t Be Unlucky in Marketing

In the middle of February I went to a marketing event (Don’t Be Unlucky in Marketing) which targeted social care organisations and looked at many different aspects of marketing and how it can completely change the fortunes of an organisation when done properly. It was really interesting, although I couldn’t stay long and there were a couple of key points I picked out which I think are relevant to this topic. I’m in no way saying the social care sector and many of the companies and charities within this sector are boring but they are subjects which can be difficult to write about. I thought this tweet was a fantastic example of how there are ways of grabbing the attention of your audience without being ostentatious and going too far out of your comfort zone and therefore the comfort zones of your target audience:

The second point and whole presentation actually, of Duncan Craig from Survivors Manchester, basically sums up what I’m going to try and say here, marketing the (seemingly) unmarketable. There are plenty of tweets out there which summed up how fantastic what Duncan had to say was but I’ve nabbed this one which is just one of the many which highlighted the essence of what he had to say:

In a nutshell, anything can be made to sound exciting and anything can be sold and for me, as a copywriter, it’s the words that count. Other media maybe involved but I’m mainly interested in using words to make THAT copy, those “boring” (though I’m trying to get away from this word) topics more palatable. Now, to my tips, which I hope are useful.

Make THAT Copy Stand Out & Get Noticed

So, there are many ways you can make copy more interesting when it seems like it can be anything but. First, ask yourself:

  • WHAT am I trying to say?
  • WHY am I trying to say it?
  • WHY should they want to listen?

Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you need to say and who you’re saying it to and most importantly why, here are some other points to keep in mind.

1.      Think like a Tabloid

OK, so you can’t think like a newspaper but you can think like a tabloid journalist. Vibrancy is at the heart of tabloid writing, however sensational it can be, but you can glean ideas and utilise the same strategies to attract attention and bring vibrancy to your copy.

2.      Tell a Story

If you have enough words to work with then tell a story. People relate to and enjoy stories, the personal touch really works and if you can draw people in with a story relating to the product or service, chances are they’ll stick around to read the rest.

3.      Share a Stat

Statistics, reports and scientific evidence are a great way of attracting people’s attention. If you can say that 90% of your customers said they’d shop with you again, and have a data to prove it, then share it. Equally if you can find a study which backs up the usefulness or need for your product or service, link to it, mention it and increase the authority in your brand.

4.      Avoid Cliché

There are tried and tested phrases (much like tried and tested) that you’ll see again and again in marketing copy and if you can avoid them, avoid them! There are stock phrases which do nothing but make your copy generic so if you feel yourself drawn toward cliché or common similes and metaphors, step back and think again.

5.      All about Them

You’re writing about your business and what you can offer but really your content needs to be about them. Your audience, your potential customers. Every point you make should give the reader something which makes them want what you’ve got to offer, it should solve a problem for them. You and your should be amongst the most-used words in your copy.

Boring copy does nothing for your business. It doesn’t attract the attention and it won’t encourage your customers to engage or keep reading. Facts are great, information is great but it needs to presented in a way that means your customers can connect with it and therefore, with you. Don’t let THAT copy defeat you and you can always ask me for advice if you’re not sure what to do with it.

Liverpool copywriting – a very Northern affair

This is a guest post from the most wonderful Bob of Phronesis Freelance . I really appreciate the input so thanks Bob!

The north-west gets a bit of a bad rap, with Liverpool and Manchester often losing out to Birmingham in people’s assessment of which is England’s ‘second city’.

And sure enough, if you’re talking about population alone, London’s is over eight million, Birmingham’s over one million, Manchester’s little more than 500,000 and Liverpool’s slightly less than that.

But when you hire a copywriter in Liverpool, you’re not getting somebody who works in isolation. Merseyside as a whole has a population of 1.4 million people, Greater Manchester contains 2.6 million, and the north-west has around seven million residents in all.