Got the write stuff? Always keep the customer in mind

When you’re working on marketing your company through any of the multitude of media available, adjusting your message to the audience and the medium is imperative.

Writing sales copy often poses a daunting task business owners, managers and employees face when they’re drafting an advertisement, putting together a “tweet” or Facebook status or even writing the short business bio that’s required when joining a professional organization.

While consistency remains key in all of your advertising, marketing and branding efforts, you also must remember the way you interact with the different media is vitally important to your success. The words you use on social media will be significantly different from the words you use in a professional form letter. The words you use when writing your business biography (usually around 200 words) will again be different in both style and etiquette.

This sounds simple enough. But too often when you sit down to begin typing the words, anxiety begins to bubble, palms become sweaty and the laptop is promptly smacked shut so the task at hand can be ignored. The other thing that often happens is that words are typed, retyped and then thrown out because they aren’t quite “right.”

To begin with, I encourage you to cut yourself some slack. Every person who’s ever written business sales copy has begun with a simple sentence. I heard once that to be a runner you have to run. It’s that simple. The same holds true for writers. To be a writer, just start writing. Perfect or not, just start writing. What is it that you want to say, need to say and must submit?

Let’s say you sell Thing-A-Ma-Jigs and they’re the best darned Thing-A-Ma-Jigs around. That’s what you want to say — but not the words you necessarily want to use.

There are several different ways you could work with these words. You could begin with, “Try out the Thing-A-Ma-Jig and see the Thing-A-Ma-Jig difference!”  You could move on to something snappier like, “You haven’t jigged until you’ve tried the Thing-A-Ma-Jig.” Just keep writing and something wonderful will come from your efforts. Write, revise and write again.

Remember the words your target market uses. Avoid social media slang if your demographic is not the social media generation. Avoid technical terms if you’re clientele is an average Joe. Avoid industry slang if your customers aren’t industry savvy. Keep the customer in mind when you’re writing sales copy and you can’t go wrong.

Too often, as business writers — and if you’ve ever written for business purposes, you’ve been initiated into this group — we forget we aren’t writing for ourselves.  Instead, we’re writing for the customer. We’re writing for the lead that will turn into a sale and hopefully promote future sales.

Follow the style guidelines laid out for your medium. If you don’t know the style guidelines, simply look to see how others are writing for that particular medium.

Twitter presents one of the media options that’s most daunting for which to write. That’s because Twitter users speak a whole different language — in 140 characters or less. How do you begin? You start by watching, following and doing. It’s the same method when you’re writing for any media.

If you’re writing for ads, look at amazing, award- winning ads and see how they’re written. If you’re writing for product labels, see how other labels are worded and follow the style. Notice I didn’t write “say what they say,” because that would be unethical. But following the style is perfectly acceptable.

Finally, keep in mind that there are professionals who spend their days writing for other companies. If you really get stuck, want a second opinion or just have other tasks that demand your attention, find an exceptional copywriter and see what they have to “write.”

Just remember, it’s your business. No matter what, you’re in the driver’s seat. And always write for the customer.

Christy Hovland is managing partner at Hovland Marketing in Fruita. Hovland is available for public speaking engagements that inspire your inner marketing genius. Contact her at http://www.facebook.com/hovlandmarketing and follow her on http://www.twitter.com/christyhovland
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Posted by on Jun 1 2011. Filed under Contributors. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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