Writing copy for your small business can be a pain. Whether it’s your website, emails, direct mail or social media posts, you might not know what to write or where to start. So if you’re searching for some helpful tips to power past writer’s block, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to outline some of the most helpful tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years as a copywriter for small business owners.
1. Identify Your Target Audience
Before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), take the time to clearly identify your target audience. This is the group of people your products or services are made for. If you understand their needs, desires, and pain points, you can tailor your copy to their specific interests, ensuring it resonates deeply with them.
Writing a document that outlines the perfect customer can be incredibly helpful when getting your head around your target market. List their age, gender, location, and income, followed by their hopes/dreams and fears/pain points.
If you’re not sure what your customers want, ask them. A survey to your email list, feedback in reviews and from customer service reps, and even online forums such as Reddit are great places to find what your customers are thinking and feeling.
2. Write As If You’re Talking To Just One Person
Imagine you’re having a one-on-one conversation with your ideal customer. Write your copy in a conversational tone, using words like “you” and “your” to create a personal connection. This approach helps make your copy more relatable and engaging than it would if you wrote to no one in particular.
Here’s an example of copy that speaks to one person:
“Do you feel overwhelmed by your to-do list? Do you feel like you add more tasks than you cross off? Do you struggle to stay on top of your workload and run out of time in the day? Then you need Listify – the productivity app designed to simplify your life and boost your efficiency!”
And here’s an example of what not to write:
“Many people feel overwhelmed by their to-do list. They feel like they add more tasks to the list than they cross off. And they struggle to stay on top of their workload. Listify helps these people to simplify their life and boost productivity.”
3. Use Active Voice
When it comes to sales copy, the ultimate goal is to motivate your customers to take action. That’s why a crucial tip in copywriting is to employ the active voice instead of the passive voice.
For instance, consider the following examples:
- Passive voice: “10% off every two items purchased.”
- Active voice: “Buy two items today and get 10% off!”
The active voice has a more powerful impact on the reader, as it subconsciously instils a sense of action in their minds rather than merely presenting a concept. It tells them to do something directly… and direct copy is almost always more effective.
The act of making a purchase becomes more vivid and compelling than the abstract notion of an item being on sale. Although the distinction may seem subtle, it serves as a vital tool in customer engagement, particularly during those critical moments when they are weighing their options and deciding whether to make a purchase.
4. Keep Your Copy Simple
One of the most overlooked tips for writing more effective copy for your business is to make it simple and easy to understand. You shouldn’t need a degree in rocket science to understand your copy (unless your target market is rocket scientists).
Think of your copy as a conversation with a friend rather than a technical manual. Aim to engage your readers with clarity and empathy, using words and phrases that resonate with them on a personal level. The more effortlessly your message flows, the more likely it is to capture and hold their attention.
Consider the following examples – what’s more effective, do you think?
The first one is MUCH clearer about the benefits the chair provides and is a lot more compelling than the second option (which is a confusing bunch of dribble). So remember: simplicity is key to effective communication, enabling your customers to understand and appreciate the benefits of your products or services without any unnecessary barriers.
Pro tip: if you’re not sure your copy is simple enough, run it through the Hemingway App. Anything grade 10 or above is too difficult to read!
5. Check Your Grammar
It’s important to proofread your content and eliminate grammatical and spelling errors before potential clients see it. While the odd typo here or there won’t affect things too much, it’s not a good look if your copy is full of them.
Good grammar enhances professionalism, clarity, and credibility. It ensures your message is clear and easily understood, making your copy more readable and trustworthy. Avoiding grammar mistakes helps you maintain a polished image and prevents misinterpretations.
Use spelling and grammar checkers, proofread thoroughly, and seek a fresh perspective to catch any errors. By paying attention to grammar, your small business can present a professional and effective message to your audience!
6. Write About Benefits, Not Features
Your audience doesn’t want to know the technical details or intricate inner workings of your product or service. They want to know how it can improve their lives. Focus on highlighting the benefits they’ll experience from buying your product or service, rather than simply listing the features. Show them the transformation your offering can bring.
For example, if you’re a personal trainer, the features of your service might be a personalised workout and meal plan. But the benefit of this would be achieving your fitness goals faster and with greater efficiency, leading to a healthier and more vibrant lifestyle.
So rather than just listing the features, explain that the workout plan can help burn calories and increase strength, while minimising the risk of injuries… and the meal plan can help to lose fat, build muscle, and increase energy levels throughout the day.
By focusing on the benefits, your copy will be much more compelling to your target market, because it outlines a clear path to help them reach their desired result.
7. Ensure Your Headlines Stand Out
When it comes to writing copy, one of the most critical elements that can make or break the success of your content is the headline. In fact, studies have shown that 80% of readers never make it past the headline when browsing online. This staggering statistic emphasises the importance of creating captivating headlines that grab attention and entice readers to dive deeper into your content.
A well-crafted headline has the power to make your small business stand out from the competition, increase click-through rates, and generate more leads. It serves as the first impression, determining whether a potential customer will continue reading or move on to something else.
Here are some tips to make your headlines stand out:
- Be specific: Instead of using generic or vague language, use specific numbers, data, or outcomes to give your audience a clear idea of what they can expect. For example, “Boost Your Sales by 50% with These Proven Strategies” is more compelling than a generic headline like “Increase Your Sales.”
- Use emotional triggers: Appeal to your audience’s emotions by incorporating powerful words that evoke curiosity, excitement, or urgency. For instance, “Discover the Secret to Effortless Weight Loss” triggers curiosity and promises a solution to a common problem.
- Make it unique: Differentiate your headlines from others in your industry by offering a fresh perspective, or a unique angle that goes against conventional wisdom. This helps your content stand out and piques the curiosity of your target audience.
- Use power words: power words are specific words that have a strong impact on readers and can evoke emotions or create a sense of urgency. Examples of power words include “free,” “unleash,” “transform,” “exclusive,” “irresistible,” “proven,” “guaranteed,” and “limited-time offer.” Check out a full list here.
8. Incorporate Social Proof
It’s not enough to simply make bold claims about your product or service. Your potential customers need reassurance and evidence that your offering can deliver on its promises. This is where the power of social proof comes in.
Social proof refers to tangible evidence that supports the claims you make about your business. Including social proof throughout your copy builds a more compelling case that you’re the right fit for your customers.
Some examples of social proof are:
- Testimonials: Customer testimonials are a potent form of proof that can sway potential buyers in your favour. When real customers share their positive experiences and success stories, it demonstrates that your product or service has delivered tangible value to others. Ensure that your testimonials are specific, genuine, and relevant to the benefits you want to highlight.
- Case Studies: Case studies dive deeper into real-life scenarios where your product or service had a significant impact on a customer’s problem or goal. These detailed success stories provide a comprehensive view of the benefits and outcomes of your offering.
- Featured publications: Being featured in reputable publications or partnering with well-known brands can also serve as powerful proof. Highlight logos of newspapers you’ve featured in or podcasts you’ve been on to showcase your business’s credibility and industry recognition.
- Client icons: By prominently displaying logos of well-known companies or esteemed organizations you’ve served, you showcase a solid track record of delivering value and excellence. This form of social proof is particularly persuasive, as potential customers are more likely to believe in your capabilities when they see recognizable brands or respected entities associated with your business.
9. Include An Offer
Your offer is the specific proposition or incentive presented to potential customers with the aim of persuading them to take a particular action. The action could be making a purchase, subscribing to a service, signing up for a newsletter, filling out a form, or any other desired outcome that aligns with the business’s goals.
An offer typically highlights the value or benefit that the customer will receive in exchange for taking the specified action. It can take various forms, such as discounts, free trials, bonus products, exclusive access, limited-time promotions, special packages, or any other tangible or intangible rewards.
The key to a successful offer lies in tailoring it to the needs, preferences, and pain points of the target audience. An attractive and relevant offer entices potential customers, giving them a compelling reason to engage with the business and ultimately make a decision in favour of the company’s products or services.
For example, a clothing store might offer a 20% discount on all items during a weekend sale. The offer of a discount serves as an incentive to encourage customers to visit the store and make a purchase, driving foot traffic and boosting sales.
In essence, an offer is a strategic marketing tool that aims to create a win-win situation: the customers benefit from the value they receive, while the business achieves its objectives, such as increasing sales, generating leads, or building customer loyalty.
10. Make A Call To Action
Once you have enticed potential customers with an attractive offer, the next crucial step in your small business copywriting is to make a compelling call to action (CTA). A call to action is a prompt or instruction that tells your audience exactly what action you want them to take next.
A well-crafted CTA is clear, concise, and action-oriented. It leaves no room for confusion or hesitation, prompting your audience to act with a sense of urgency or excitement.
Examples of effective CTAs include:
- “Shop now and enjoy 50% off – limited stock!”
- “Subscribe to our newsletter for exclusive offers and updates.”
- “Download our free e-book to discover expert tips and tricks!”
- “Claim your consultation now – free for today only.”
Key elements of a persuasive CTA include using action verbs like “shop,” “subscribe,” “download,” “book,” or “claim” to convey the desired action clearly. Additionally, incorporating urgency words like “now,” “limited,” or “today” can create a sense of immediacy and encourage immediate action.
The placement of your CTA is also crucial. It should be strategically positioned in your copy, typically near the end of your message or following a persuasive selling point. By placing the CTA where it naturally fits in the flow of your content, you maximize the chances of catching the reader’s attention and compelling them to take action.
11. Hire A Copywriter To Do It For You
OK, this tip is a bit of a cop-out – but it’s also true. If you want to avoid the headaches and save yourself the hard work, hiring an expert copywriter will almost certainly improve your small business copywriting, and help drive more sales. Plus, it’ll free up your time to focus on other areas of your business!
Alternatively, you can engage a copywriter to read, edit or critique your own copy. This can be a more cost-effective way of doing things if you’re on a tight budget. Either way, a copywriter is a worthwhile investment if you want to grow your business!
Hopefully these copywriting tips will make marketing your small business easier! Remember, at the end of the day, copywriting is about communicating what you do and the benefits people will receive from buying your products and services. If you do that well… and what you sell is worth buying… then you’ll soon have customers queueing at your door!