You should divide your web budget between design, development and content

When you plan your website, how much of your budget do you assign to the content?

Too many organisations spend thousands of pounds on the design and development of their website, but fail to budget for content creation and management.

But what is the point of having a great-looking and easily-navigable website if the content is weak, or wrong, or off-message?

It’s hard to attribute a value to quality content, but it’s easy to see that while great design can impress potential customers, the design can’t tell people what you do, or what makes you unique. Nor can great design answer the questions that your potential customer have.

Great design is an essential component of a successful website, but without well-planned and well-executed content you have a pretty brochure that says nothing about your business.

If you want a website that is more than a costly but beautiful artefact, spinning in space, you need to think carefully about your content. 

And if your budget is tight, why not consider spending less on the design and functionality, and spending more on the content?

Highlight the benefits (How to be your own copywriter)

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When you write about your products or services, tell people how your offerings can change their life, or improve their business.

Remember that when someone buys your fridge they are really buying food and drinks that are cold, fresh and free from bacteria. They are buying convenience. Nobody wants a big white box, but everybody wants food that’s free from mould and safe to eat.

So if you’re telling someone about your new iPhone app, tell them what it does AND why it’s functions are so great. How does the app improve or alter the user’s day-to-day existence?

You can highlight benefits in different ways. You can talk explicitly about the benefits, like this:

Benefits of Dave’s Fridges:

-  Your food stays fresher for longer 

-  Efficient freezer function saves energy and cuts your costs 

-   Easy-clean anti-bacterial coating

Or you can blend benefits into a more general discussion of the product, like this:

Dave’s Fridges offer rapid-cooling and an anti-bacterial coating to keep your food healthy and free from bacteria.

However you do it, make sure you get beyond product features and tell people exactly how they will benefit by buying your product or service. Don’t expect your reader to be able to guess the benefits.

 

Accepting criticism and feedback as a copywriter

I always tell my clients, “I’m not really writing for you; I’m writing for your customers, or your supporters. They are the most important audience.”

But recently I’ve been thinking about how a copywriter has to juggle the needs of a client’s audience with the need to appease and satisfy client-side stakeholders.

For example, I can’t get away with just writing copy that will work for my clients – I also have to please them sufficiently so that they accept my suggestions and use my words to represent their business. If my clients don’t like the copy I provide, they won’t use it. My clients might have bad taste in copy, but to a certain extent I have to please them in order to help them.

Of course, no self-respecting copywriter is going to submit weak copy just because it’s what the client wants; the challenge is to lead your client towards a middle-ground where they get what they want while you also get to deliver copy you can be proud of.

So here are my tips for accepting client feedback and moving towards a result that pleases everyone.

1: Try your damnedest to see their point of view

This is difficult to achieve, but you must try. Even if you think their feedback is wrong or ignorant or misguided, you must try to understand their point of view. Why do they have wrong-headed views about the copy? What informs their opinion? Where did they get their ideas from?

2: Try to agree with their comments

Play devil’s advocate. Imagine that your client is entirely right and you are completely wrong.  Consider the feedback from every angle – but start from a point where you assume they are completely right. Will them to be right. Pray for them. It’s much easier to roll with a client’s punches than to fight back.

3: Be gracious in your communications

Remember that the copy you wrote is now a business tool. It’s not poetry. So even if you do feel hurt by a client’s criticism, take a few deep breaths and let those feelings fly out of your body.

4: Focus on the things you can accept and agree with

Instead of responding to feedback with justifications and combative comments, start softly and positively by talking about the points you completely agree with and understand.

5: Discuss contentious points carefully

It’s entirely right and proper to  resist any changes that diminish the copy, but do be careful how you argue. Be gentle, give evidence for your arguments and remember that your client knows their business and their customers better than you.

6: Remember that, after all, it’s their copy

If push comes to shove, the client won’t use any words that they don’t believe in. You can nudge a client towards the copy you think they need, but you can’t force it on them.

 

Do you have any tips for handling criticism and getting your client’s approval?

Writing for WWF International – new case study

I was thrilled to get a chance to write for WWF International last year.

WWF were busy with a number of global campaigns and their in-house team needed a little support. I think they also valued having some fresh ideas from someone not immersed in the world of conservation – which I hope I was able to provide.

I wrote blog posts and social media content for two WWF campaigns. I loved the complexity of their material – and it was great to get involved with such a worthwhile cause.

I do offer a discount to charities – so get in touch if you need help with campaigns, web copy – or anything else!

Read my WWF International case study

 

 

Make sure your copy supports your organisation’s goals (How to be your own copywriter)

be-your-own-copywriter

Your copy needs to address your audience’s questions, but it also needs to serve your organisation.

Your copy is there to communicate what you do and who you are, so consider how well the copy supports your goals.

Your goals might be:

  • Drive more enquiries online (and get fewer phone calls)
  • Change the perception of your organisation
  • Reach a new type of customer
  • Communicate new services / product ranges
  • Recruit recent graduates

By simply listing your organisation’s goals, you can evaluate your copy against these criteria.

This way, you’re more likely to have copy that does more than simply describe what you do.

Answer your customers’ questions (How to be your own copywriter)

 

be-your-own-copywriter

 

As we mentioned previously, your customers have questions.

Does your copy answer their questions?

This is a great way to evaluate your copy, and it’s a very black-and-white consideration. It’s not like trying to decide if your copy feels friendly enough.

Start by writing a list.

What questions do new customers have about your business?

If you’re not sure what your new customers usually ask, turn to other people in your business. Ask the customer service people. Ask the sales team. Ask the person who receives the enquiries from your website. Ask the person who manages your website. Ask the receptionist. Ask yo mamma.

You should end up with a list of questions like this:

  • How much does it cost?
  • Do you have experience in my industry?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How can I trust you?
  • Who are you people?
  • How do we commence working together?
  • What are you like to work with?
  • Can I pay with a credit card / bitcoin /cheque / bag of meat?
  • How long will this project / service take?
  • How can I receive my goods?
  • What other projects have you completed?
  • What other clients do you have?
  • How many people buy from you?
  • What do your customers/clients say about you?
  • Where are you based?
  • Who can I talk to?
  • How can I contact you?
  • My thing doesn’t work. Can you fix it?
  • Are you accredited / certified / approved / regulated / registered?

You could design a website or a brochure around the responses to this list. Think about where you should answer these questions in your copy, and then write accordingly. Obviously, you might not want to cover all of these points in your copy. You might not want to discuss prices, for example, in public.

You decide what you reveal, but you should understand that if another business is offering more information and answering more of their audience’s questions, we can assume that they will get a few more enquiries than you.

This is just one way to think about what your copy needs. Next week we’ll look at how your copy can and should tie in to your organisation’s goals.

Stay tuned!

Use keywords (How to be your own copywriter)

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If you don’t want people to find your website via search engines, then you can ignore this blog post.

Otherwise, let’s talk about your website and how we can help people find you.

Let’s imagine that you have the most amazing website offering the world’s finest ale. But your fantastic beer alone might not be enough to bring people to your website. After all, if people are searching for ale and you write about beer, then those people will find other websites, not yours.

Likewise, if you sell pyjamas, you need to mention pyjamas. And probably nighties too. You might need to mention if you sell pyjamas for girls, boys, men or women. You might need to mention that you sell Adventure Time pyjamas or Hello Kitty slippers.

So, the advice is, write about whatever it is you’re doing. Using keywords is really is that simple.

Match the words that everyone else is using

You might prefer to think of your artisan fruit preserves in those terms, but if the world wants ‘strawberry jam’ or ‘orange marmalade’, you may need to use those terms too.

If you want people to find you, you may have to accept their terms. Literally.

Use keywords sparingly

Don’t go repeating keywords willy-nilly. You’ll look desperate.

If it makes sense to use a keyword in a heading, then great, go ahead. Otherwise, don’t bother.

Try to use your most important keywords at least once or twice on main pages. But don’t obsess about the ‘density’ of these keywords.

Keywords can feature in your blog too

If you have a blog, write some stuff about your business. Write about what’s happening in your industry. Write about the clever stuff you’re doing. Keywords will naturally occur. Success follows.

Why it’s worth giving keywords a little thought and effort

By using the right keywords in the right places, you can bring the right people to the right website (that being yours).

Let’s think about what that really means. It means that:

- People make their own way to your website (they come to you)

- People are interested in your services or products

- People who are motivated enough to seek out a business like yours are usually intent on buying

- People who visit your website cost you very little (assuming your website is already bought and paid for)

Next week we’ll look at how your copy should be answering your customers’ questions…

 

Copywriters in Dorset…

… WHERE ARE YOU?

Are you – or do you know – a copywriter in Dorset?

I am a copywriter in Dorset and I’d love to meet some of my local peers. So if you write copy in Dorset – or know someone who does – please tell them to give me a shout.

I attend local meet-ups like Dorset Digital and MeetDraw – so if you’re writing copy in Dorset get along to one of these events.

Incidentally, the next Dorset Digital meet-up is tonight (27 November 2013) at the Goat and Tricycle in Bournemouth: http://www.dorsetdigital.co.uk/

NEW – Blog writing and posting service

Many of my clients have blogs, but very few write blog posts.

Consequently, many of my clients have a section of their website which is lying dormant – not delivering the benefits it might.

A neglected blog is definitely a missed opportunity. Regular blogging brings many benefits, including:

- your potential clients can learn who you are, what you care about and what you know

- Google is reminded that your website is active and relevant

- you can join your industry peers in discussions and debates.

And one negative impact of having a neglected blog is that potential clients wonder if you’re still there – and if your business is still a going concern.

Publish regular blog posts without the hard work

Instead of slaving over documents and messing about with your CMS, you can work with me instead.

We’ll devise a plan for the months ahead, work together to generate ideas, and then I will write and upload a month’s worth of articles each month.

So you get a lively, active and engaging blog without having to devote hours and hours to it each month. You still get high-quality content that’s written in your voice with the benefit of your expertise, but I do all the laborious writing.

Email: leif@kendallcopywriting.co.uk for pricing.

Or call: 07790 748 243

Fix mistakes (how to be your own copywriter)

be-your-own-copywriter

Words are easy to get wrong. Words are tricky buggers and they invite mistakes. So it’s not unusual to have a few mistakes or errors in your copy. Luckily, we can fix it.

In this series of blog posts I’m suggesting ways that you can improve your copy yourself.

But before we think about making your copy brilliant, let’s cover how to make it acceptable. Because few things will deter a potential customer more quickly than an error-ridden website or brochure. Errors suggest you’re inattentive, or lazy, or incompetent. Clearly, these are not the kind of signals you want to send to potential customers.

And this isn’t just about grammar and spelling. Your copy can have several kinds of mistakes:

Factual errors

Your website recommends a service you no longer offer. Your brochure lists an address that you no longer use. Your user manual recommends software that no longer exists. Your team page features staff who no longer work for you.

These kinds of errors usually emerge because of the passage of time. The passing of time is inevitable. You failing to update your copy is not.

When you check your copy, imagine that you are a new customer discovering your organisation for the first time. Can you find accurate, up-to-date answers to your questions?

Technical errors

A link to your services page actually leads people to your products. Your contact form is broken.

There is no point having amazing copy if people can’t navigate to that part of your website. These errors are easy enough to uncover. You just have to click around your website. Follow every link. Make sure you end up where you’re supposed to end up.

Grammatical and spelling errors

You don’t need to be a grammar genie to get this stuff right. You just need to write your copy in Word (or anything that has a capable spell checker) and be aware of tricky words (too/to, your/you’re etc). And if you’re not sure about tricky words, you should call on a friend who is.

Seek help

There’s a good chance you know at least one grammar pedant who will review your copy for you. There’s no shame in asking for help. If you can, get more than one person to review your copy. The more eyes you have on the copy, the less chance there is of errors sneaking through.

Once you’ve eliminated errors from your copy you can begin to think about making it awesome. We’ll cover that in the weeks ahead.