Identify your objective for your communication first
Before you start any piece of writing you need to answer some basic questions: What are your objectives? Who is your target audience? What’s the best medium for your message? And how does this piece of communication fit into your overall marketing plan, and with your broader business plan? These are just some of the questions you should be asking.
You could create a standard creative briefing sheet to make sure nothing gets missed, and use it as a checklist each time you write, or if you outsource your copywriting.
Do your homework
There’s no excuse for not being informed these days. The internet gives us information in an instant, and it always pays to research your subject thoroughly. The more you understand your product, your customers and your competitors, as well as the world in which they come together, the more appropriate your copywriting will be. One word of caution though – always make sure the source of your information is reliable.
Editing is easier than writing – so start filling that blank page
A blank sheet of paper can be daunting, and most people find it easier to edit someone else’s copy than to write their own. The trick is to get something on paper, and then edit it! This gives you a starting point – from there you can begin to craft the words.
Always check for errors
Firstly, let your computer do some of the work – spellcheck is a great tool (make sure it’s set to English (UK) dictionary though), but whatever you do, ignore the grammar check! Grammarians debate many issues, but they all seem to agree on the unreliability of the computer generated grammar check!
Always re-read what you’ve written
Taking the time to re-read what you’ve written, and to get someone else to look over it as well, will pay dividends. Some people find it helpful to read their writing out loud (this works better if you’re not in an open-plan office!). If you ‘trip up’ reading your communication, then so will your reader. A fresh pair of eyes are a must – our brain has an in-built auto-correct, which admittedly can be useful, but it makes it hard to spot copy errors. Having somebody come to your copy fresh can help weed out any mistakes.
Do the headlines sum up your key messages? Most readers will only scan your content – so make sure you get the message across in your headlines. Of course first prize is that your headlines are so enticing that people will want to read more. So make sure they’re interesting too. In short – your headlines need to work really hard, so make sure you invest time in writing them!
Is your communication jargon-free?
I can’t think of an industry that is without its own raft of jargon, not to mention acronym-speak! It’s easy to absorb this way of talking (and writing); within no time at all it becomes second nature, so much so that you don’t notice it creeping into your customer-facing literature. Make sure it doesn’t! Readers won’t have the time or the inclination to find out what your jargon means – so make sure you write using language your audience will understand.
If you need help with your copywriting, then call me on 01249 653816 or email firstname.lastname@example.org