6 reasons your copy might not be working

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It’s easy to create words to fill the page. It’s much harder to create words that effectively convey your message or prompt action. And in business, that’s what you want to do, right? Here’s a list of the most common problems I see in copy; from my past clients and the wider world.

Reason 1: poor customer knowledge

You know your customers, right? But, do you really? As a business owner, it’s easy to assume that you know everything about your target audience. It’s equally easy to lose sight, lose touch and discover you don’t know them at all.

I’m not talking about their names and contact details. You need to understand the type of people they are, why they’re buying your product and what challenges they’re facing. And a whole lot more.

The better you understand your customers, the better your copy can be. Because you’ll be writing it for them and not an assumed character.

Phone calls, surveys, customer research, product feedback. It’s all valuable stuff. And will help to build your business.

Here’s a previous article that will help: How to know your customers better (and why it matters).

Reason 2: it’s all about you!

Just for fun, find a few hundred words of copy on your website or in your brochure. Now count the number of times you see the words ‘I’ or ‘We’ compared to ‘You’ or ‘Your’.

Which wins?

I’ll bet that for many, it’s ‘I’ and ‘We’ (or ‘They’ if you write in the third person).

Now, try and find a piece of business copy that you really like (maybe on my website!)

Why do you like it? There’ll be many techniques at play, but one is probably a high use of ‘You’ compared to ‘I’.

Make your copy about them, not you. Tell them how you can help them, not how great you are. This will be easier if you know your customers – as you’ll know what they’re looking for.

Reason 3: a confused or complicated message

You might offer many products and services. It might be quite complex. In fact, you might even get a bit confused when explaining it.

Think of your poor customer or prospect. They’re coming to your message cold. Often with no prior knowledge of your company. And you want them to “get it” quickly.

Give them a sporting chance!

The more concise and clear your message, the easier it is to “get”. You can fill in the detail when they get in touch. Don’t bombard them with everything all at once.

Avoid long words and acronyms too. You might think it gives you an edge. It actually gives your reader more chance to become confused.

Write with your reader’s comprehension and level of knowledge in mind.

Reason 4: wrong tone of voice

I’m a friendly and approachable person. I want you to realise that. So I write in a way that portrays my character. If I were to write in a more formal style, you might conclude that I was a little stand-offish.

What character does your business have? And more importantly, what character is going to resonate best with your target audience? (another reason to know them well)

We see many informal business characters these days. They’re engaging and approachable. But it’s not always appropriate. Know what tone is best for your business and stick to it in all outward communication.

Reason 5: typos

Call me old-fashioned, but if I see a large number of typos in a piece of copy, I lose trust in it. Its credibility diminishes, and I wonder about looking elsewhere.

If the copy is of poor quality, what’s the rest of the business like? Ever thought that? I have.

Don’t be that company. We don’t all have to be English professors to write good copy.

If you’re not confident in-house, seek help. Even if it’s editing the copy you started with. Just do whatever you need to do to avoid excessive typos. They’re not nice at all.

Reason 6: no call to action

They’ve read your copy. But they’ve not called. In fact, they’ve wandered off to talk to your competitor.

Did you ask them to call?

It might seem obvious to you, but it’s not to your reader. So make it easier. Commit to placing a call to action whenever it is relevant to do so.

That might be asking them to call you, linking them to your online shop or highlighting other information for them to read. You know, they don’t.

With my latter point in mind, I invite you to get in touch with me if you’d like to discuss your specific copy needs. Hiring a copywriter is affordable for all sizes of business. And the result might just be copy that actually works for you.