Sounding right

Today’s guest blog comes from Alex Kinsey, Director of copywriting consultancy Eric and Frank

Does the way you talk to your public sound right?

When you’re starting up and running your own business, you want to make sure the world knows what you do and why you’re so good at doing it.

Your fantastic new website looks shiny and suitably impressive, but do the words on it sell your services as well as it could? Does the prospective letter you send out to hundreds of potential new clients do the same? Are your Facebook updates and tweets reflective of the personality of your business or brand? In short, does the way you talk to your public sound right?

Writing your own copy

Working with design agencies across the country, one of the most commonly heard complaints we hear about customers is that while they’re happy to let designers make their site look good, clients often insist on writing the copy themselves – with varying degrees of success. But as the designers say, what’s the point of having a good looking website if the words on it are rambling, ineffective and likely to turn off your reader?

You might know everything there is to know about the industry you work in and the services you provide, but do you know the best way to express that in a way that works for you by getting the client to pick up the phone and call you?Eric and Frank

Sometimes it’s hard to relinquish control over something you feel so passionate about – and after all, it’s just words, you speak and write them every day. But more often than not, your detailed understanding of your industry or services can be too much for a customer – they simply don’t need it and it could turn them off. The wording becomes too detailed, the processes overly-explained or the key messages – your top selling points – submerged in paragraph after paragraph of waffle.

Revisit, review

As web users in this digital age, we want to find answers and resolutions to our problems as quickly as possible. We spend less and less time skim-reading pages on websites, getting the key information and then quickly moving on to our next task.

It’s why it’s so important to revisit and review your website and other communications regularly. Does your website work hard enough for you? It is your main platform for prospective clients to find you and find out if you can solve their problem. Can customers get what they need quickly and easily? Do you need to put your words through a Plain English filter – removing jargon or excessive descriptions? Could someone unrelated to the business do a better job at explaining what you do?

Your business messages and how you get them out is the key to making sales and building new opportunities. Make sure you explain what you do, succinctly and without unnecessary jargon.

Alex Kinsey, Eric and Frank

  • Great point. It can be difficult in practice to implement though. There is a temptation to get lazy with your copy and pass a poor brief over to a copywriter, which can result in nice writing that means nothing.

    In my view, best practice would be to work really hard to produce your own copy in-house – then pass it over to a copywriter to sharpen up.

  • This is a great post – clients often spend a lot of time and money on design and chuck the copy in at the last minute. A good copywriter will be able to work with whatever’s been produced in-house, or start from scratch, but the key is to ask the right questions to begin with: who’s reading, what do they want, what do you want them to do next etc. Taking the time to get the message right can be the difference between engaging your visitor and losing them.