Stop swiping! Use your own well-branded copy instead!
Unless you’re a writer, you probably hate copywriting. For many of us, the idea of “well-branded copy” harkens back to that dreaded high school essay. In order to reach a page amount, did you ever rewrite to be as wordy as possible? Those bad writing habits become difficult to break. Ever hear someone “speak McKinsey”… those buzzwords attributed, unfair or not, to the reputable consulting firm? Or have you ever used a free template to create a sales email (swipe copy)? Well-branded copy isn’t a find-and-replace or cut-and-paste task. Many entrepreneurs pick up terrible writing habits. Bad copy can be bad business.
Copy folds into everything, whether it’s your website, lead magnets, or even customer service. Take a look at this example where a business that failed to appropriately respond to written complaints on social media, quickly went out of business.
What is “copy”?
It’s the words you use, although the term “copy” is generally associated with words printed and intended to be read, rather than what you say when you give a speech. We help clients build a brand vocabulary to use as part of their well-branded copy in our Branding Intensive.
But sometimes, you need guidance on what constitutes “well-branded copy.” Keep in mind that there is no set rule on what to do or not to do: it must be consistent with your brand platform. Still, consider how these suggestions will improve your brand’s perception:
Perhaps this surprises you, but a positive tone, rather than a negative tone, can improve conversions. It’s really no different than personal relationships: do you prefer to spend time with friends who are always upbeat, or those who won’t stop complaining? One suggestion from that writer is simple: stop bad-mouthing the competition or emphasizing the problems, and, instead, focus on your positive attributes.
Spell-check and grammar check.
This is easy to miss. A minor edit, a stray mark, it can happen to anyone and everyone, even presidential candidates. But, it’s critically important, as this white paper reveals. Bad grammar costs revenue. The industry does not matter. Period. Your target audience may not be forgiving even if the mistake is on your own translated version of your native language website.
Word of caution: don’t over-rely on proof-reading programs. Our wordsmith recently discovered a bug in the proofing plug-in he had been using with Google Docs. Software programs aren’t perfect, and language can be highly nuanced. Although there are a number of proofreading functions on the market, sometimes the best result is the old fashioned approach: print and proof, line by line, with a ruler.
Don’t swipe copy without rewriting.
Entrepreneurs have to work fast. Free templates are a cost effective way to help get work done so you aren’t recreating the wheel from scratch.
But this road of efficiency is scattered with potholes. It goes beyond express permission “to swipe.” We will assume that you already know the inherent problems of plagiarism. But swipe copy offers many other potential problems.
Duplicating someone’s blog? If it’s already been posted elsewhere, your subsequent post may appear lower in search rankings. If a search reveals your post alongside or underneath the original post in a search, your target audience will see the duplication. Because you’ve swiped, you’ve validated someone else’s copy… along with any and all typos or issues their copy may have. You might also end up pointing to someone else as the better expert for your target audience.
You may have conceded someone else as an alpha.
Rewrite. Add your own voice. Or, if you really like what someone else said, then take our approach: acknowledge the resource and include the link (maybe even a summary) in your regular newsletter.
Have a brand vocabulary and stick with it.
Keep a list of phrases you don’t / do use, and be consistent. Does every life coach talk about “blocks” and “hurdles”? Does everyone claim to be “unique” and “customer-focused”? Consider your own interpretation and vocabulary. What can you say, what words can you use, that validates your difference?
Copywriting may not be fun. It often takes a writer to love words. But don’t skimp and ignore using well-branded copy, or you may be turning away your target audience.
If your brand has taken you as far it can go, there’s only one way to take it further. It’s not with a marketing agency. Not with a business coach. Not even a graphic designer.
It makes common sense to hire a branding agency … for branding. And, you can do that in just 2-days with our “Branding Intensive“.