Monthly Archives: November 2013

Sussex copywriting

Networking pitch – make it short but arresting!

I was recently asked to help put together a very short but punch packing pitch for a business networking session. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked, so this blog (which is more by way of a blogette) is a quick recap of how to get the most out of your 1 minute pitch:

1. Take time to think about what you want to say before hand. If you need to, jot down your thoughts and even practice them out loud.  And don’t worry if you get nervous, many of the best speakers do.

2. Keep it as short possible. The temptation for all of us is to cram as much as possible into our time slot and I’m the worst for this but that can dilute a message and if you’re one of a number of people pitching, your audience may well have switched off before it’s your turn.  They’re far more likely to remember a short and snappy message.

3. Remember to focus on the “benefits” of your business or what I call the “which means” test. In other words, rather than telling you that i’m a qualified and professional copywriter who will provide dynamic copy and an efficient, cost effective service, (you see – you’re bored already) it will resonate with you far more if I say something like, “I can increase your sales and free up your time”.

4. In identifying the right benefit, don’t forget to think about your audience and what will appeal to them.

And yes I know a spoken pitch isn’t strictly within the definition of “copy” so I may have strayed of pitch (excuse the pun) slightly but all the words you use to promote your business are important and deserve a little time and thought.

Sussex copywriting

1 easy and instant way to improve your copywriting and your SEO

Use headlines.

Yup, it’s that easy. And although I was tempted to end this blog there, just in case you don’t believe me, here’s 3 reasons why headlines make or break your copy.

Search engines check headings.

So include an appropriate keyword in your heading or sub heading and you’re sending a clear signal to Google and Co which in turn should improve your search engine results and rankings.

 Headings provide focus.

There is nothing worse than a rambling piece of copy but using relevant headings and sub heading force you as the writer to think about the structure and purpose of your piece.  And that will improve the quality of your copy and its attraction to your readers.

 A good title or heading makes the difference between someone reading the copy or not.

If you’re a half decent writer it can be tempting to play with your words and produce a clever but perhaps slightly obscure headline. Worse still for lack of time you might be tempted to produce something straightforward but frankly dull, something  like  “Headline Copy” for this blog for example.

But a good headline is not only clear and succinct but has some other important ingredients too. It should grab your readers attention and make it impossible for them to resist reading on. Offer them something they want or need, use “How to” style headlines or just be provocative and incite curiosity. You’ve got just a few seconds to draw them in so give your headline the thought and attention to detail it deserves and above all else make sure your copywriting delivers on your headline’s promise.

Simples.

Sussex copywriting

Home page health check

When did you last check and update your website’s home page?

The home page of your website is of course the doorway and shop front of your business. It should welcome your customers in and delight them with the services or products that you offer which will improve or enhance their lives. It should be fresh, appealing and irresistible.

So it always surprises me that once we as small business owners have gone to the effort and expense of setting up a website, how many of us then fail to regularly revisit, update or sometimes even read our own home page.

If you haven’t checked your website’s home page lately and want to make sure it’s enticing, compelling, bang up to date and drawing your customers in, here’s my simple, quick and easy home page health check:

 

1. How do you look?

First impressions count. Too many or too few words and images and too much or too little white space can have a disastrous impact on the overall feel of your website (not to mention search engine results) and can really put customers off. Break down copy into manageable bite size paragraphs and use headings and sub-headings. Check your copy is correctly spelt and neither so small as to cause eyestrain or so big that it shouts and always ensure you have written enough but not too much. Whatever your business, 1 line is rarely enough. And bear in mind that your home page is the place for an overview of your business not details of every last product and try and avoid a home page that takes too long to load or which you have to scroll down to get to the best part. Like shoppers in the street, your customers will have moved on.

 

2. What are you?

Your home page should instantly reveal the essence of who and what you are. If you walk past a hairdressing shop front you can immediately tell if it’s a barber’s or a ladies’ salon and with clothing you can tell at a glance if it’s budget or boutique. Some of who you are will be captured  by your graphics, branding and images but it should also be evoked by the tone and style of your copy too.

 

3. Who are you talking to?

Perhaps one of the most important things to bear in mind is to know who  your potential customers are and then speak to them in their language and style. Don’t be overly formal if you’re selling skateboards but if accounting is your game, than obviously a professional tone is more likely to hit the mark.

 

4. Are you content with your content?

Although your home page provides just a summary of your business, it’s not the place for bland and uninspiring copy. Make your home page personable, authoritative and interesting as well down right compelling to your customers and revisit your keywords often as they will evolve with your business. Above all else, you have only seconds to capture a reader’s attention so make it snappy – a great headline can be key to that!

 

5. Update and refresh.

A clothes shop would not display last year’s stock and neither should you. Whatever you sell, make sure you update your homepage whenever possible to reflect seasons, new products or services and whilst of course that applies to your images, it also applies in equal measure to the copy you use.

 

4. It’s all about them.

You wouldn’t see a baker putting a list of their qualifications in the shop window (although they may have a place on view somewhere in the shop).  Your customers want to know what’s in it for them, so attract them in with a delicious ready made birthday cake which will save them time and taste great, not a list of your many years of experience.

 

5. Give directions.

Finally, whether it’s links to another page or a clear call to action, make life easy for your customers and show them where to go and what to do next. Ensure you have clear links to more detailed pages and tell and compel your customers what you want them to do, be it phone you, visit you, sign up to your newsletter or browse your range.

Your business is always changing and developing. Make sure your website’s home page reflects that.