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Archive for the ‘Tone of voice’ Category

Tighten up

Work on that copy

How to tighten up that copy

I’m a copywriter working in Sydney and across Australia.

Sometimes, my brief could be described as, “Keep it the same but make it different.”

Clients love their own copy – LOVE it. Especially if they have a family member or spouse who fancies himself or herself as a marketing copywriter.

Problem is, inexperienced writers – well, they use too many words. Their sentences meander across the page, filling up space and offering no obvious benefit or call to action. Worse, the copy has no ‘energy’ (in the words of one of my more well-known copywriter colleagues).

Example 1: Flabby copy

“If you’d like to add details of employees who’ve joined your company, delete employee details when they leave, simulate your retirement income and get access to several handy reporting tools, then you are able to use PRODUCT, which we designed as an easier and more convenient way for you to work.”

Example 2: Tight copy

Use PRODUCT to:

  • Add and delete employee details
  • Simulate retirement income
  • Access reporting

Get your job done quickly and easily. Check out PRODUCT now.

Which one of the above are you more likely to read (and act on)? I’ll bet on version 2.

Why?

We’re all time-poor.

When we’re reading, we need instant information.

  • What is it?
  • Do I need it?
  • What does the writer want me to do?
  • When?

Five top ways to tighten up your copy

If you do go down the road of writing your own copy, then keep it tight.

  1. Begin sentences and phrases with imperative verbs where possible. (Use, Check, Get in example 2)
  2. Keep it simple.
  3. Use bullet points.
  4. Remove any adjectives that aren’t working hard.
  5. Add a clear call to action and a time limit (if appropriate).

You have seconds to grab a reader’s attention. Make those seconds count.

There are more ways to tighten copy but these are the ones I start with. These simple tips will give your copy more rhythm and readability.

Do you have any tips for keeping copy succinct and relevant? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

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A creative brief gives you insight into your client's needs and desires

A creative brief gives you insight into your client’s needs and desires

If you don’t have a good creative brief to work from and inspire you, you’ll struggle to satisfy your client and fail to deliver what they want and need.

For those who follow this blog, you’ll know that I’m now doing more copywriting than proofreading. It isn’t a hard transition; I love both proofreading and writing copy. However, my biggest help has been Belinda Weaver of Copywrite Matters.

Belinda gives me overflow copywriting work and writes an awesome creative brief. She spends time getting to know the client, the business and the business environment so we don’t have any surprises down the track.

Once I’ve read through one of her works of art, I’m fully prepared and can pretty much sit down and start writing. Of course, I do my own research to make sure I’m not going to parrot someone else’s words, but the brief is enough. The brief gives me the information I need, but also, it inspires me.

This means that I write copy that the client wants and expects, and we tick all the SEO and marketing boxes. The tone of voice is right for the client…and we get great testimonials.

No creative copywriting brief
Last year, I had a client – a smallish graphic design studio – who’d hired me to write some marketing collateral for their client, Brand X. I’d met the ‘marketing’ people from Brand X and, well, they didn’t really have a clue. Business plan? “Make more money, ha ha!” Marketing plan? Any indication that they were aware of the best times to target new business? Nothing.

I asked the studio people to ask their client to fill out my creative brief and it duly came back, sparsely populated. Well, you work with what you’ve got. I wrote copy that addressed the brief and sent it off. A few days later, the studio got back to me.

Studio: “They hated the copy. They said you should have known it wasn’t what they wanted.”
Me: “The copy addressed the brief.”
Studio: “I know, but we didn’t get them to fill it out. They were too busy so we did it.”

Great. My reputation with Brand X is in tatters and my primary client isn’t happy because their client isn’t. I didn’t get a chance to rewrite the copy and didn’t get paid for the work I’d done*.

Stop! Unless you have a great copywriting brief
Now I won’t go ahead with a project unless I have a comprehensive copywriting brief, signed off by the end client. The creative brief is your opportunity to build a relationship with a client, to learn a bit more about how they think and what their real goals are – overall, and for a particular project. It not only helps me to fulfil their desires, but also, it weeds out the undesirables.

Thanks to some great copywriting briefs, I’ve worked on jobs that were a doddle – Classic Blinds and Shutters, Groundtruth, Matryx Solutions in Security, Overflow Café and Bar, Clancy’s and Maroba Caring Communities, to name a few. They’re all happy clients, all due to Belinda’s professional approach from the start and the attendant good client-supplier relationships.

How do you manage the briefing process? Any horror stories? Let me know.

* I’d done work for this client before and satisfied their needs and goals…because I had good creative copywriting briefs.

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