“Writing is easy. All you have to do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
– Gene Fowler
Some might say that writing is simple – that taking some words and polishing them is easy – that I spend a lot of time staring out of the window, playing with Harry, my dog, or resting my head on the table – and yes, I have to confess that these are all true.
However, taking those words and being drawn into that space where magic happens is a beautiful way to spend time. Yes, I faff but there’s more to copywriting than clever copy.
It needs to be straightforward and engaging, while leaving the reader wanting more.
Each morning I don’t just start typing. After making my coffee, I sit at my desk and get some admin done – this settles me before I start writing. It comes down to calm thought, choosing the words, popping them in the right order, and then bringing it all together at the right moment.
Sound like a load of b****x? Yup – that’s because it is. Although I do need the calm thought – not the easiest thing to achieve when hubby is forever asking if I want a cuppa (initially thoughtful), vacuuming whilst I’m on Zoom (he could wait an hour) or if I’ve finished writing yet (bloody irritating!)
Inspiration makes us interesting – Dickens took his from the dark streets of Victorian London; Van Gogh found solace at the bottom of a bottle – I get mine from a good long walk with Harry and a decent coffee, or a large glass of red.
Let’s be clear – few folk give a tiny rat’s ass
A big mistake people make is assuming that your targeted audience is listening or even cares. A million years ago, marketing teams wrote and delivered content to a captive audience – now the audience can click and be gone.
The solution – know who it is you are talking to.
What are they looking for? What do they need? Address those pain points. What sort of copy are they attracted to? What are they reading?
Useful, yes -Boring, NO
Useful content is great content. That widely accepted truth leads some brands into the trap of being functional, but dull.
In the great big world world of content, dull is dead. A successful content strategy requires people spending time with your brand. Nobody wants to hang out with you when you have the look and conversational ability of a deckchair. Please don’t be bloody boring.
Imagine for a moment that you have a friend who hates anything that J K Rowling writes. Now, for some unfathomable reason , you have decided to overlook this failing for the sake of your friendship.
JK releases a new book and you know – in your bones – that your mate will love it – it is right up their street. But how to get them to even listen past you uttering ‘Erm, JK…’
Before you ask your friend to alter their opinion, remind them that you get it – yes, they don’t like her (despite not having read anything she’s written recently – especially the spectacular books about the ex-Army, private detective – can’t remember his name!) but if they just give you three minutes you are sure you can change their strongly, and vocally held belief.
Here we take a deep breath.
This is the bit when we stare their pain points right in the eye. We know their objections, we have certainly heard their previous opinions and goodness, are we tired of those seriously fixed ideas, but armed with this information we can target the real issue by acknowledging all of them.
So, matey reads the book – loves the book and is suddenly requesting your copies of the Cormoran Strike books – knew I’d remember his name!
Hopefully, the next time you mention something that you’d recommend they will be more receptive.
Tone of voice matters.
In my past life, after the police one and before the University one, I taught people to drive. And I was bloody good at it – But for all my guidance on what to do, it was exceedingly obvious that for some of them, understanding why they had to do certain things was going to be the secret to real retention.
I spent what felt like hours explaining to some learners how the clutch worked. Time and time again I was thrown against the dash or smashed into my seat as the pupil stalled and stalled again.
But repeat we did – in a calm and measured tone of voice until that information was neatly stored in their long-term brain.
It’s a fact – we all have different ways of learning. Not everybody needs to see a diagram of a clutch. But in every area of copywriting, branding and tone of voice, the logic that hunkers down behind the copy is as important as the copy itself.
You’re selling so make the idea seem obvious. A given. So much so that they scramble across the sofa, their partner and the dog to grab the laptop to place an order for those astoundingly good brownies they’ve just seen and read about on Facebook. It’s simple logic!
Brands should adopt a specific tone because they act in a certain way. Those actions give us details about their personality, which can then be applied in writing. Tone of voice is an essential part of the writing process and gives the reader something engaging and informative to read.
Bringing personality to a brand is an essential part of what I do. Whether I am writing for a baker, mortgage broker, property developer or photographer– making their audience care enough to read what I’ve written, while getting the information across to them, matters.
Learning the ‘why’ is crucial, and those targeted audiences need to see why your brand is the obvious solution to whatever it is they need.
And so ends this month’s blog. Thanks for reading.