How to Write Copy People Want to Read

Marketers love to say KISS (Keep it simple, stupid.) This may be good advice, but only to a certain point. While you want to make your copy concise and easy to understand, you don’t want to insult your audience’s intelligence.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind when you go to write.

Step 1: Know Your Audience

Ann Handley, author of the go-to handbook, Everybody Writes, puts it in a much better way: “

Assume the reader knows nothing. But don’t assume the reader is stupid.

You want to inform them, to persuade them, to educate them.  You don’t want to talk down to them and you definitely do not want to waste their time.

A surefire stay relevant to your audience when you write copy is to speak to them directly. If you’re publishing an ad in a trade magazine, don’t keep boilerplating your main features, speak directly to your audience’s pain points.

Say you’re selling a cell phone.

Your website might say: “Our latest model connects you to the world around you, one app at a time…” before going over its top features.

Similarly, an ad in a photography magazine should focus on a photographer’s biggest pain point: “Never miss a moment. With our latest model, you can leave your camera at home. Capture professional quality pictures with our 16 MP camera….”

You get the point.

Don’t use your valuable space to push a handful of obviously scripted, vague testimonials, either. Do you actually believe the people in commercials? Testimonials are a great tool, but make sure they’re real and sound like something a real person would say.

Step 2: Make it Interesting

A study by the Nielsen Norman Group estimated that on average, users only read 18% of what’s on a page. They concluded that 8 out of 10 people will read the headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read the other copy. You have a very small opportunity to make an impression.

Have a punchy personality

Have you ever tried to read an oven manual? How about a press release? Technical writing doesn’t make for good copy.

Don’t forget your brand’s voice. If you have a strong brand, it’s developed a lifelike personality, and that should shine through. Be sassy, be sarcastic, write copy you would want to read.

Tell a relatable story

Writing copy is very much an art form, just like any other form of writing. Even if you don’t have formal training, just think back to your eighth grade writing class: Show, don’t tell.Have a beginning, middle, and end. Be descriptive. . Find your voice..

Everyone loves a good story. Start by making sure your business has a great background. Make your customers love you because of where you came from and what you stand for. If they can relate to you, that’s fantastic.

That way, when you write copy elsewhere, you have a great foundation to work with. Perfect copy doesn’t make you feel like you’re reading a sales pitch, it lets your imagination do the work. Feed your readers metaphors, imagery, humor, and pithy takeaways.

Not too long ago, York Peppermint Patties did a great job of creating ads with powerful imagery. You remember them—someone in an everyday setting,taking a bite of the cool, minty candy…and bang! They’re on a snowy mountain far, far away.

Imagery is transportive, especially in copywriting.

Be direct and clear

While literary devices are great, they’re not always fitting. Sometimes, it’s more powerful to be direct.

Manhattan Mini Storage launched an ad campaign last year that instantly connected with readers. “I like my wife. I love my storage room.” They showed why customers need their service, speaking directly to everyday situations (my wife wants me to clean out the basement, my parents are coming to visit and I have stuff I don’t want them to see…)

Step 3: Keep the Copy Concise

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” -David Ogilvy

The first 50 words are the most important. Can you make them count?

Stop saying please and start inspiring your audience

When writing a call to action, “Please sign up” is disarming but still demands action, while “Sign up now” seems too pushy. Instead, inspire them to take action. Content Verve A/B tested two call to actions: “Sign up now,” and “Sign up now and get started,” to find that the latter led to a 31.03% increase in sales.

Don’t waste your words

Prioritize what needs to be said. Cliches may be cliches for a reason, but there’s no room for them when every word counts. If you can’t come up with a more colorful or original way to say something, cut it out.

Add value with data
Anyone can write paragraphs claiming to be the fastest, best, or most stylish. Superlatives are too overused to be effective. Look for quantifiable statistics that add value instead. A car afficianado would be wary if you just said that the 2015 Infiniti Formula 1 Red Bull RB11 is the fastest car in the world. If say it goes from 0 to 60 in 1.7 seconds, however, that’s going to catch his attention.

The Brand Psychology Behind Superbowl Ads

The Super Bowl is a huge event that has broken its own viewership record five of the last six years. In 2015, it had an average viewership of 114 million people, or over one-third of the U.S. population. While most people tune in for the game or the half-time show, the rest of us tune in for the commercials.

With an average price tag of $4.5 million per 30-second ad, why are companies spending their entire advertising budget on a single commercial? Brand exposure.

The Super Bowl has a huge audience, and it gives smaller companies the same level of exposure as the Coca-Colas  and Apples of the world. But he fact of the matter is that all of the money in the world can’t buy consumer love.

That takes a strong brand.

An Explanation of Brand Psychology

Without customers, a brand has no value. To understand your customers enough to create a foundation of a brand, you need to get inside their head.

That’s why it’s important to understand the underlying psychology behind a consumer’s choices.

Purchases are usually based off of one or more of the following factors:

  • Brand identification (Apple)
  • Internal state (lonely from not being able to contact friends)
  • External state/social context (all of your friends have iPhones)

This means that a decision to purchase your product or service is dependent on many variables.

Aesthetics and Personality in Brand Psychology

A brand is much more than just how you speak to a customer, it’s just as much about how you present your business.

Something as simple as color can make all of the difference. In fact, color increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent. This isn’t to say that you should choose the brightest, most noticeable color there is, because brand appropriateness plays a huge role in what a customer chooses to buy.

A company’s font selection requires just as much thought as its color. No one over the age of eight wants to go into a shop that uses Comic Sans on their storefront, and no one will take a website that uses Curlz as its default font. The smallest details matter.

In 2016, this has never been more true. The gap between company and consumer is more narrow than ever, mostly due to social media. When a customer tweets at a restaurant, they expect a response. These days, a customer wants to get to know the brand as much as your company wants to understand its customer.

They want to know your beliefs, your values, and how you handle complaints. They want to feel comfortable enough with your brand to consider it a friend. You’re on their social media, so they need to like you. That’s how brand loyalty is born.

If you don’t remember anything from this blog post, remember this statistic: 80 percent of your future revenue will come from just 20 percent of your current customers.

How to Build a Better Brand

While there is no set formula to creating a better brand, understanding  brand psychology and how your customer makes decisions is a crucial first step. Keep these points in mind when creating your own brand:

  • Meet your audience’s needs. Every person you reach is a potential customer. Make sure they know that you have the answer to their problem before they have the problem.
  • Don’t forget about the aesthetics. Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, we’re a looks-driven society.Spend time figuring out what colors, fonts and themes work for your company.
  • Be likeable. Customers expect more than ever from brands. They want to consider you their friend, so create a personality that resonates with your customer.

Marketing Resolutions for Your Business (and Yourself)

It was once again mid-December, and I was once again sitting and trying to come up with a list of resolutions. While going through some of the most common resolutions: get healthy, do more for others, etc. it hit me: these are great marketing resolutions, too.

Resolutions are a great concept. They give you focus for the year and motivate you to get more done. So often our work lives overlap with our personal lives—wouldn’t it be easier to just make one set of resolutions?

Resolution #1: Lose Weight and Get in Shape

This is everyone’s perennial favorite, and for good reason: when you’re in shape, you feel at your best. It’s the same for your business. One of your marketing resolutions should be to lose dead weight and make healthier business choices.

This year, instead of indulging in every marketing tactic out there, concentrate on the ones that will strengthen your business. Does your accounting business need a Pinterest? Probably not. Do you need to 

Instead of sending out quick emails and posts that get you through the day, work on campaigns that will carry you into the future.

Resolution # 2: Think About Others

Long gone are the days where a simple HTML website was enough to impress a client.

These days, it’s all about user experience. Consumers have grown to expect a lot from companies. User experience is no longer just about how your website performs, but how it looks, as well as how well it’s optimized for mobile.

Instead of choosing website elements based off of your personal preferences or keeping certain elements because they’ve been there since day one, think of your customer. 88 percent of online consumers are less likely to revisit your site after a bad experience.

How do you prevent that? By focusing on the little things as well as the overall experience. A user experience manager for Bing credited using a specific shade of blue for at least $80 million in additional annual revenue.

You can also just listen to your audience. Have they been asking for a search bar? A better way to contact you? Give them what they want—the customer is [almost] always right. ESPN saw their revenue jump 35 percent after incorporating customer feedback in their homepage redesign.

Resolution #3: Learn from Your Mistakes and Make Better Choices

In 2016, stop sending out tweets that get no engagement. Stop sending emails that are never opened. Stop writing blogs that are never read. Start learning from your mistakes.

Marketing is a vast and complex business. What works for one company might not work for another. A very easy and practical way to figure out what works for your business is to start A/B testing.

A/B testing in its most basic form is simple: make different versions (such as a version A and a version B) and see which one does better. It’s a near-universal practice that works on social media strategy, email blasts, landing page copy—pretty much all types of content.

By A/B testing, you’ll be able to actively compare conversion and engagement rates and use that data to figure out what resonates best with your audience. A/B testing helped ComScore increase lead generation by 69 percent, and it helped Sony increase purchases by 20 percent.

Resolution #4: Write More

In 2015, businesses (both B2B and B2C) that prioritized blogging were 13 times as likely to see a positive return on investment. Don’t miss out on a statistic like that. This year, one of your marketing resolutions should be to make time to write. 

Even if you’re not a writer, you should write more. Setting aside a just a few minutes a day to get your thoughts down on paper is not only therapeutic, it’s a great way to brainstorm, organize your thoughts and come up with the next big idea for your company.

What will your marketing resolutions be?

It’s never too late to set goals for yourself or for your company. This year, try to:

  • Optimize your web, social and physical presence to make an impact. Don’t cheat yourself out of quality leads by spreading yourself too thin.
  • Revamp your website. If you’re unsure how, follow this simple philosophy: Keep it simple. Make it easy to use. Make a great first impression.
  • Decide what works for you. Create variations and analyze data to figure out the best voice, language, and even colors for your brand.
  • Make time to write. Whether you write for your blog or for yourself, your business will benefit from a little spark of creativity.