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Making great copy

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

I was recently interviewed by Dave Stevens hosting the Business Marketing Club (or BMC as it is known) weekly podcast. He asked me to dig a little into what makes great copy when preparing creative communications for B2B marketing.

Can you define copy-writing for us?

Yeh! Putting together a string of words that will create the feeling or emotion that you are seeking from the individual. Usually to make them feel, think or act differently from the way they did before. For me it’s the heart and soul of any marketing campaign. It's the bridge between the person reading the copy to the product or service you are trying to sell. It's a very special job and at times very rewarding.

For example text like "ever wanted to try riding a Segway?" the emotion I'm feeling at the moment is like ooh crash, grazed knees, bandaged hands, I'm not going to touch it... However, if you said "ever wanted the exhilarating feeling of speed, and a great adrenaline rush, try riding a Segway" you’d picture something differently, I hope. It's taking something and creating an image through words focusing on the benefits for that individual.

Thats what we want to take right from the beginning of any copy is what's in it for the target individual.

Do you agree that it’s the most important marketing skill?

Yes it is, it's a craft.. most ideas start with an image but it's how you convert that into text. It needs to create an empathy with the target person. rather than just explaining your products or services, you need that first hook, what's in it for me! And if you want to differentiate yourselves from competition then you need to have that empathy, something that solves their key problem. Creates an emotion. And they would like to get in touch with you because they want that to feel that emotion, they want to find out more about that solution.

What are the benefits of great copy?

That it grabs attention, stops people in their tracks. creates an image of resolution, it solves something or creates interest, it's addressing a person, so must make them feel attached to that what you are selling… great copy will sell, create revenue and keep your audience wanting to come back for more. It will create loyalty.

How should businesses go about writing good copy?

There are lots of things I could think of but lets stick to 3 important areas:

1. First and foremost, research.....

  • Who is the copy for? defining the persona right from the start means you get copy that will resonate with the person it was intended for and their particular problem. Check articles and other things such as interviews on youtube at events etc... anything that helps you get into the skin of the intended audience.

  • Learn about your product or service, find out what the product is you are writing about, try it out, get a demo, see how it's used in everyday business. Then start listing the features and benefits for the individual, be the ears and eyes of the persona you are writing for, what's in it for them. Those features might deliver your headline.

  • Check on competition are your USPs really USPs? If you don't have any then look for the key challenges for your persona and match them.

2. How is this copy going to be used?

What's the communication channel? Is it on a web site, for a video, for print etc. Depending on the channel, the copy will have a different use in terms of engagement.

3. Finally keep it short, simple, something easy to digest get away from jargon.

How many times have we seen Artificial Intelligence or BlockChain as the key message, like you will engage with the company just because they have AI or BC? Find out what makes you special.

Which businesses do this well?

It's very difficult in B2B because too many people get involved with editing copy. So what happens is that the message gets diluted. As more people add their bits the copywriter loses his or her grasp on the initial meaning or direction. Many people have to make sure their piece of the pie is in the copy, especially in technical environments where they are responsible for one area. Then you get features being added to the copy which the target audience are not interested in. And rather it becoming a copy for the target individual it becomes copy to please the product manager or CEO etc... We need to be stronger in writing copy.

What’s your advice for a business seeking to improve its copy writing?

I would say know your audience and speak to them to find those nuggets.

Sometimes you don't get the opportunity but there are enough forums, blogs, research papers, articles, surveys, youtube interviews etc online that can help you.

Talking with the people that are one to one with the target audience is your next best bet.

Asking many questions at the outset will paint a picture, get good at asking open questions.

And then practice writing copy. Try writing copy for everyday items and then reading out loud, see if its compelling. Let it rest and then revisit your copy. If you get stuck, Use mind mapping to help generate some great copy too, use a Pomodoro method of splitting your work into 30 minute bite sized chunks so you don't get fatigued and helps you focus, isolate yourself switch off your phone, email etc - no distractions, find a nice place to work and change that place too, move around.

Also, you will have to edit your copy quite a few times, don't get discouraged keep working on it. There are some great books and online teachings, I'm listening to a podcast also on copywriting. And if you'd like assistance we are here to help!

Phil Martin, Managing Partner interviewed by Dave Stevens for the BMC Podcast episode 85 The X factor

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