We are surrounded by words. They are spoken to and by us, written to persuade us, intrigue us, and inform us. Words are a major way that we communicate. And putting words together in creative and compelling ways is a big part of what marketing is all about.
But, not all words are created equal. It takes time to come up with just the right copy to convey the value your brand or organization has to offer and make the case for why you are the perfect fit for your audience. Words have power. When you find the right combination, your marketing strategy can shine.
So, what do you need to know to make your copy more compelling and ensure it is read?
1) A Personal Touch
Try addressing your marketing copy from one individual to one individual. If you’re writing a direct mail letter or sending a marketing email, you can send that piece from a specific member of your organization. This makes it more personal.
Addressing your copy to an individual member of your audience will grab their attention and give a sense of added importance to the piece. The recipient will feel that the piece was intended for them specifically, rather than as one of many. They will be more likely to read your copy, get the message you want them to receive, and act on that message.
2) Place Your Audience at the Center
When crafting a piece of marketing content, you want your recipient, not your business, to be at the center of the letter. This seems counter-intuitive, right? Isn’t the point of marketing to show the value of your company?
Yes…but you want to show your audience that you know who they are, that their individual needs and contributions are important, and that you can provide a relevant solution for them. This conveys the value you have for your customers and gives them a reason to value you.
Using words like “you” and “your” in your marketing material is also beneficial. Avoid using “we,” as it can work to separate your audience from you. Instead of “we improve children’s lives” try “you can improve children’s lives.” Which one encourages you to act?
Compelling copy communicates to your audience that you understand their needs and emotions and can address and solve those needs with your products or services. It may take more time to consider things from your customers’ standpoint. But it will pay off in the end when you’re able to connect with your audience on a deeper level.
Nonprofit copy shows the value of this. When it comes to communicating with donors, you want to empower them so that they feel their support is making a positive impact, and that their continued help will allow that positivity to continue. Using “you” gives them an active role in your mission, making them feel more connected and powerful. Portray them as the superhero that’s saving your cause, and you’ll help to ensure their continued support.
When you give your recipients a sense that they can make a difference, you’re tapping into their emotions. Maybe your copy makes them laugh, feel sad enough to want to change something, or relieved that you can provide a long-awaited solution. The use of emotion is a powerful marketing tool. Whether you are looking for someone to donate to or purchase from you, they are compelled to act due to the emotional response your marketing gives them.
3) Grabbing Attention with Marketing Copy
Effective marketing copy stands out. Maybe it causes your audience to see things in a different light, or cites a surprising fact. It may seem like writing copy in the same way as everyone else is a safe bet for maintaining a conflict-free relationship with your audience. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to be edgy or striking in your marketing campaigns. You want your marketing, and by extension your business, to be remembered.
The best place to kick-start your unique copy style is in the headline. Media company Upworthy found that readership of an article can vary by 500 percent just from changing the headline. The first sentence of a piece is where you are going to either lose your reader or pique their interest, keeping them reading on. Your message will not be received if you don’t hook your reader in the headline.
4) Keeping it Simple
Interesting doesn’t have to mean long-winded. It certainly means cutting out exaggeration, overused words, or excessive business lingo. Don’t feel like you have to make your company or product sound extra impressive, using cliched words like “revolutionary” or “groundbreaking.”
If you understand the needs of your audience and can speak to them using the same language they’re using to describe your business, you’ll be more effective. Choose the fewest words that are truly going to say the most, so that every word counts.
5) Style Choice
We all want to believe that our marketing copy is going to be read from beginning to end. But that’s not often the case, at least at first. You should assume that pieces like your newsletters will only be scanned or skimmed by recipients.
This doesn’t mean your message will be lost. It means you have to make the most important information you want to convey the easiest to find. Recipients are most likely going to scan the headline, any photo captions, pull quotes, and bold or bulleted information. If you can make these parts intriguing, readers will go back and read more in order to dive into the context.
The most important takeaway about writing effective copy? Make it count. The copy you produce is your main way of communicating with customers, both current and potential. If you want to be a successful marketer, you can’t afford to have poor copy.
This post was originally published on June 1, 2017 and updated March 9, 2020.
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