Good copy – what is it and why do we need it?

by Nicky Parker

Copy, content or wording – all fancy words for the same thing. But what does that actually mean?

Small Blackboard with the word 'Content' written on itIn essence, it is all the wording you use when marketing to, or communicating with, customers and prospects.

That makes it sound pretty simple, but, in fact, it is anything but…

Good copy resonates with your customers. And that’s because you understand them – you know what makes them tick. You know what keeps them up at night. You know what they care about.

That knowledge helps you to create messages written in the language of your customers.

Why is that important?

It helps you build rapport. In the early stages of communicating with a prospect, it means they stay engaged. They feel like you are talking directly to them – as if you understand their problem. That makes people believe you really can solve their problem or need, so they keep listening or reading.

And with your existing customers, it helps to develop and deepen that relationship. It’s not necessarily about selling more products or services, but more about:

  • Reassuring them after they have made a purchase that they have made a good decision
  • Giving them help and advice on relevant topics connected with your business
  • Continuing to establish your business as the “go to” company when they need you

If you have ever tried to write wording for your website, or a marketing campaign, and started with a blank sheet of paper, you will know how daunting it can be. The more you agonise over what to write, the harder it seems to become.

Notebook with blank paper and pen

When we work with clients, we start by talking to them about what they want to achieve. Here are some questions that might help you:

  • What is your goal for this wording? Be realistic as buying an expensive service is unlikely to happen just from reading something on line
  • Are there any additional goals? Search engine optimisation for example
  • Do you have images to help convey your message?
  • How much space do you have? It’s no good writing War and Peace when you have half a side of A5 to cover!
  • What is your company style? This one is often overlooked, making it apparent that several people have written for the business, without a cohesive approach. If you have a formal style, don’t let your team write or sign off wording that is more casual, and vice versa.
  • What is it being used for? Website, social media, printed material – they all require a different approach

Try to remember that the first rule of copy is to engage the reader. You want to give them a reason to continue reading. That’s back to the rapport building – making them feel you understand them.

Whilst appreciating the need for search engine optimisation, we always tell our clients it is more important to write with the reader in mind than Google. After all the reader could become a client, whilst Google will not.

To help us get into the mind of our clients’ customers, we like to talk to their customers and understand the business from their perspective. That gives us some of the language the customer uses, it helps us appreciate the problems they are struggling with, and how our clients can help. It also produces some very powerful testimonials, but we will come back to that another day.

Of course, you can write all of your copy in house. But if you are interested in looking at a different approach, we’d love to chat with you, so please give us a call on 0118 380 0131 or fill in our contact form and we’ll get straight back to you.