Everything produced by your marketing department involves some level of copywriting.
Along with visual media, the text that you choose to add to your collateral, messaging and positioning pieces is absolutely crucial to your customer understanding your business value proposition.
The essence, position, and tone-of-voice of that copy comes from deep within your organization’s DNA. It comes from your branding, value articulation, and audience expectation. It’s the single most important element of business communications that not only conveys message and purpose. But defines your business as a brand in the mind of your audience, and therefore solidifies market space and value differentiation.
So why is so much corporate copywriting so embarrassingly weak?
Copywriting Is For Their Benefit – Not Yours
The most frequent mistake we see when assessing clients’ existing customer-facing value is that the material is written from the vendor’s point-of-view, rather than the prospective customer. To produce copy that resonates with your target audience you need to put yourself in their shoes: Regardless of what you sell, and to whom, positioning your messaging from the customer’s perspective will allow you to produce more targeted copy that is focused on what your customer wants to hear – and not what you want to say to them. The goal of most copywriting is not to swell your corporate ego; it is to sell your product or service.
Yet writing copy from a customer perspective is very difficult (which is, or course, where we come in!). Your thought processes have been conditioned to produce ‘company-friendly’ words and phrases which, by and large, your customers are less familiar with than you are.
Think Like Your Customer
If you’re looking for your website to rank higher on search engines, you’re not going to get there by having a load of BS about how great your think your business is and how you’ve got 10 offices in 8 countries.
Neither will you get very far using acronyms, jargon, and terminology that customers don’t use. Just because your industry refers to your online software as a SaaS. However that doesn’t mean your customers do – they may well refer to it as ‘cloud-based’, for example.
Think like your customer. Customer-facing collateral should be written using terms and phrases they use – even if, strictly speaking, the way they call something is wrong. Keep the text simple. Don’t fall into the trap of using long and complicated words and sentences in a vain (and futile) attempt to try to sound big and important – it makes you look like a joke. It doesn’t matter if the CEO doesn’t like the final text. All that matters is that your customers do. Remember that you are not your target market.
Following on from that, talking about ‘what your company does’ isn’t going to get hearts racing. Customers don’t care about such things. All they want to know if whether whatever you’re selling solves the problem they’ve deemed themselves to have. They don’t want your product or service: they want their problem to go away. If that means they have to buy your stuff to make that happen, then fair enough.
See where I’m coming from? Structure and position the business copywriting from the position of the customer problem first and foremost. Follow that up with how you solve that problem. Finally, provide information of the benefits (to them) of using your stuff rather than someone else’s.
Thinking like your customer (or maybe even your customer’s customer), adopting a customer vocabulary, simplifying your grammar and sentence structure, etc. may seem like an obvious starting-point for writing copy. So why do so few companies do it?