It’s amazing what you can achieve in 10 minutes. If Usain Bolt could maintain his world-record 100m speed for 10 minutes, he’d cover 6,230.5 metres – impressive. The NASA Space Shuttle, at an orbit speed of 17,500 mph would travel 2,916 miles in the same time. I stayed put, feet firmly planted on the ground and talked to a group of business people about copywriting.
When I talk about copywriting, I talk about the power of words. I talk about connecting businesses with their customers by using the right words in the right way. So it seemed only fair to do away with props, on-screen presentations and banners and get straight down to the talking. For anyone who’s interested in words, or for anyone who missed my presentation yesterday, here’s what I covered:
What type of business are you?
I wanted to see how the people around the room categorised their business, so I asked for a show of hands for Business-to-Business, Business-to-Consumer and Charity-to-Client. Everyone in the room put themselves into one of those categories.
That’s great, because everyone knows the general form of business they belong to. But actually, my work is about seeing those businesses not as B2B, B2C or Charity organisations, but as P2P – People-to-People.
Just making that distinction removes a lot of barriers in the way you communicate with your customers. I am a person. I could also be an audience member of the Guildford Shakespeare Company, a client of England Palmer Solicitors, a customer at Azzinga. For all three of those transactions, I’d be looking for different things, but I’m still just a person looking for a product or service.
Copywriting that knocks down barriers
Nearly everyone I’ve met on the networking circuit is great at talking about their business. They are the experts; they know what they’re doing and because it’s usually their own business, there’s a lot of passion and focus in the way they speak.
Ask the same people to write things down, though, and everything changes. People feel that they should use jargon, corporate speak, long words, complex sentences. This not only means that the words people read about you sound nothing like you do in person, it also means you’ve built a wall that hides the connection you make with a face-to-face conversation. The more waffle you use, the less interested your customer becomes and if you build the wall high enough, your customer will get up and leave, and you won’t even notice.
I got my audience to play a little game. I put some cards on the table in front of them. Three cards had long sentences, long words and little focus. Three had short, snappy messages. I asked them to match the short message to the long one. It’s an easy task, but it really puts the power of good copywriting into perspective. Which business would you buy from? The one that puts things clearly and simply.
Do powerful words make money?
Yes. I gave four examples of clients that have seen real results from my work. Their success stems from different types of writing – clear website content; web content that’s optimised to achieve a certain aim; email marketing that encourages readers to open and take action, and hard copy marketing letters that spark interest. And thanks to the excellent Mike Brown from Crystal Clear Financial Services who said that the follow-up email I’d written for him to send out after an exhibition made a real difference in converting show interest into meetings and new business.
So, why is copywriting a skill?
It’s perfectly true that anyone can write. Most people can write pretty well. Some people don’t need any help at all. But copywriting isn’t just about bunging some words on a page. It’s about understanding you, your business, your aims and your customers. It’s about writing in a way that sounds like you, so there’s an instant connection that makes readers feel good and want to learn more.
It’s about filtering out all the crap, so that you’re left with messages that work.
Clear messages, well delivered, bring success.
If you were at this presentation and you enjoyed it, please say so here! If not, and you’d like me to tell your group about the power of words, get in touch using the email link at the top of this web page.