Writing effective marketing copy

Writing clear marketing text or 'copy' helps to attract more customers, so it's worth honing your skills in this area. This article from SmallBusiness.co.uk and Nigel Temple, author of How to Get Clients to Come to You, will help.

Marketing communication is all about the written word. Now that the internet is part of everyday life, small businesses find themselves writing web pages, e-newsletters and blogs. In addition, there are adverts, direct mail shots and press releases.

Thinking time

Begin by taking the time to decide on your objectives and to plan your writing. You can then build the structure, do the writing and edit your work. Before you start writing, consider the type of people who will be reading your words. Think about their situation and needs. This will help you to write more convincingly.

The importance of headlines

Six times as many people read the headline as the body text or ‘copy’ of a marketing piece. A good headline should telegraph your message into the mind of the reader. It will entice them to read the rest of your copy. Try writing a few different headline options once you’ve finished the copy and choose the best one.

Write about benefits – not just features

Always focus on the benefits to your reader. If people aren’t buying from you, or if they aren’t buying in sufficient quantity, perhaps it’s because you haven’t thought enough about the benefits of your product or service. So don’t just write about the unique features of your offering: talk about what your product or service will do for the reader. Pack the resulting benefits into your headline – and throughout your marketing copy.

Keep sentences short

This is the key to clear writing. Opinion differs as to the precise number of words in an ideal sentence but a general rule is: use short words, sentences and paragraphs.

Endings and calls to action

In most forms of marketing communication, you should have regular ‘calls to action’, particularly at the end of the copy. For example: ‘So why not call 0800 123456 right now? You can then leave the rest to us.’

Copy length

How many words should you write in a particular marketing piece? The answer will be driven by the following factors: what sort of medium you are using; how much space there is; whether you can test the response rates to different copy versions; and the stage in the buying cycle.

People will hang on your every word when they are on the cusp of making a buying decision. These are the people that matter. Therefore, the answer is that long copy outperforms short body copy. As the old adage goes, ‘the more you tell, the more you sell’.

How to improve your writing

Here are some tips to turbo charge your copywriting:

  • Read from your client’s perspective. Now how does it sound?
  • Concentrate on you clients – write ‘you’ four time as much as you write ‘we’.
  • Make sentences short and snappy.
  • Split longer paragraphs into shorter ones.
  • Does each paragraph focus on one thing?
  • Has the grammar been checked by an expert?
  • Is there a call to action?
  • Walk away from it, come back and take another look.

For more information on marketing consultant, speaker and author Nigel Temple, visit www.nigeltemple.com or email nigel@nigeltemple.com. ‘How to Get Clients to Come to You’ is published by Words at Work (ISBN 978 09552798 1 2).

See also: The importance of good copy – Writer and marketer Jenni O’Connor shares her thoughts on why it’s necessary to take extra care with copywriting.

Adam Wayland

Adam Wayland

Adam was Editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2006 to 2008 and prior to that was staff writer on sister publication BusinessXL Magazine.

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Content Marketing

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