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Copywriting Tips For Small Businesses #6

#6 Tone of Voice

The way you speak to your customers is perhaps the most important piece of branding you’ll do. Should you adopt a friendly, casual tone? Or does a little distance and formality better reflect the services you offer?

A party goods supply business might get a little familiar, even mildly excitable. A funeral director or accountant might not. (Let’s hope not.) Naturally, these are two ends of the spectrum, and you’re probably somewhere inbetween.

How to create a tone of voice for your business:

  • Look at the competition. How are they talking to their customers? What can you take from their approach? What would you do differently?
  • Create a word bank. Write down words and phrases you think reflect your company’s style. Keep adding to it from time to time. It might seem like an odd thing to do, but it can really help to get the juices flowing when you’re looking for inspiration.
  • Write as if you’re talking to an individual customer that you know, not a faceless group.

Things to watch out for:

  • Don’t underestimate the power of simple, persuasive writing. In most cases, a customer wants to see competency and professionalism, not puns and jokes. Usually, clear, simple messages along with a few friendly and welcoming turns of phrase will do the trick.
  • Even if you’re using a casual or humorous style, don’t let the words run away with you. Twenty-five words where five will do is never funny. (Unless you’re a copywriter getting paid by the word.)
  • If you’re going for light-hearted, don’t overdo the exclamation marks!! It’s the written equivalent of hyperventilating!!!
The end!!!!

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Martin Philp offers professional copywriting services for high street brands and small businesses. Get in touch now.

 

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Copywriting Tips for Small Businesses #5

Punctuate Properly.

What have commas and apostrophes got to do with your business?

It’s a sick, sick world out there without appropriate sentence construction

More than you might imagine.

A customer’s first impression of your business might well be from your copy. Any mistakes in your advertising send out a very clear message – your workmanship or service is shoddy and best avoided.

Fixing spelling is a simple matter. Check it. But many people slip up on punctuation. And the biggest thing they slip up on is the apostrophe.

Avoid the apostrophe catastrophe

  • Steer clear of the grocers’ apostrophe. It’s never banana’s 50p, apple’s £1, grape’s £1.50, always bananas 50p, apples £1, grapes £1.50.
  • Use apostrophes to indicate possession. Farquar’s apples. Quentin’s bananas. Tarquin’s grapes.
  • BUT never use them with possessive personal pronouns (its, hers, theirs, ours etc). The cat broke its leg. NOT the cat broke it’s leg.
  • Use apostrophes for contractions. It’s for it is. Who’s for who is etc
  • Be careful of the distinction between its and it’s. This is probably the biggest apostrophe catastrophe of all.

Minimal punctuation = copywriting success

Good copy is all about clarity. For that you should usually use short, simple sentences. Even sentence fragments like this one.

One way to achieve this is to keep your punctuation simple. Ditch the colons and semicolons. Also, weed out excessive use of commas. You’ll often find them in long sentences that run on and on from one idea to the next. Delete them and break up your ideas into individual sentences. You’ll most likely find that your copy reads more clearly.

Clear and unambiguous copy is your best bet. And for that, simple punctuation is your best bet too.

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Martin Philp provides professional copywriting services for high street brands and small businesses.

 

 

 

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Copywriting Tips for Small Businesses #4

Be Brief.

‘Vigorous writing is concise.’ This is a quote from a classic book about writing, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. And it’s something every small business owner who writes their own copy should bear in mind.

Rupert cut, cut and cut again until there wasn’t a superfluous word

Your customer is probably going to give you seconds to tell him or her why they should use your product or service. Get straight to the point.

Some tips on keeping it brief.

• Try cutting your first draft by half.
• Consider losing the first paragraph if it’s not relevant.
• Almost always delete jokes, puns, and nice turns of phrase. In fact, anything you’re particularly proud of should be considered up for the chop, because very often writing that draws attention to itself is drawing attention away from your messages.
• Read your copy line by line, deleting any words you can do without.
• Hand your copy to a friend or colleague and ask him or her to strike out anything they think is unnecessary too.

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Martin Philp is a freelance copywriter who provides web and print content for high street brands and small businesses.

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Copywriting Tips for Small Businesses #3

Be Clear.

Clarity is everything in copywriting. Keep your messages simple and people will probably stay with you. Mix your messages and they won’t hang around to find out what you’re trying to say.

Simple. Unambiguous. Job done

Three words worth remembering – stay on target. That target is getting a response from a customer. Every word you write (after your brainstorming first draft) should be written with this aim in mind.

Here’s a five-point plan for structuring copy. Follow it and you’ll help stay relevant from the opening sentence to the last.

  1. An eye-catching headline focusing on the most important single benefit of your product.
  2. An introduction that gets straight to the point. No warming up. No harrumphing or throat clearing. Start with the most important benefit your product offers.
  3. The next most important benefit. (Note you are not mixing up or confusing your benefits here. You are tackling them one by one in a logical order.)
  4. The next most important benefit. And the next until…
  5. The call to action. This is the bit where you ask a customer to do something – call you, email you, fill out a form, buy. It’s the most mundane piece of copy you are going to write but it’s also the most important of all.

 

Martin Philp is a freelance copywriter who provides customer communications, internal communications, B2B copy and technical writing to  high street brands and small businesses.

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Copywriting Tips for Small Businesses #2

Focus on Benefits, not Features.

A wig is made from artificial or man-made fibres.

That’s a feature.

Rupert got his wig for free because he didn’t want toupée

A wig covers your bald head. It also gives you the confidence to approach attractive women and tell them they’ve pulled.

These are benefits. (Although possibly not for the women.)

Concentrate on benefits, not features. It’s probably the oldest piece of advice in copywriting, but it’s crucial. This is for two reasons:

  • Benefits go beyond explaining what a product is – they explain what a product can do for someone. And this is the best way to get an emotional, positive response from a customer.
  • They help focus the copy not on the business or the product, but the customer. And you should always focus your copy on the customer.

Yes, describe the features briefly. But also use your imagination and persuasive powers to describe how that feature turns into a benefit that solves a problem, or makes someone’s life a little bit more enjoyable.

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Martin Philp provides professional copywriting services for  high street brands and small businesses. Contact him on 07414 865 222 or email.

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Copywriting for Small Businesses Tip #1

 

Be Honest.

Shahan Hair Tonic – professional, affordable, unbelievable

Honest advertising? Cynics might think that’s a contradiction in terms, and quite often they’re right. But good advertising not only puts a business in the best possible light, it also remains credible in the eyes of the customer. And that’s why any copywriting tips for small businesses should begin with this: you really do need to tell it like it is.

From a writing point of view the key thing to look out for is superlatives – words such as best, finest, fastest and biggest. Don’t use them unless you have absolute, demonstrable proof that it’s the case. Big brands sometimes roll them out, and sometimes get away with it. When small or local businesses use them they usually end up looking pretty shoddy, even desperate.

One of the best pieces of copywriting advice I ever read was: Don’t get too anxious about being the best. Just concentrate on explaining why you’re very good at doing what you do.

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Martin Philp offers a professional copywriting service for high street brands, agencies and small businesses. Get in touch now.