If it doesn’t make sense to our audience, it doesn’t make sense!

OK so that sounds like a statement of the obvious but sometimes we overlook the obvious. As small business owners we are passionate about our products and services, we have absolute faith that others will understand the value we offer and want to buy. We are deluded! If our audience doesn’t instantly ‘get’ what they have to gain from buying from us they will switch off.

As I write this there are 1054 messages in my inbox, 200+ of those arrived today. My Twitter stream has added 25 new messages in the last minute (and it’s midnight on Sunday!) and there are new messages on my Facebook page. If you want to gain my attention you have to relevant, brief and very much focused on my needs.

Words have a power all their own

Words have a power all their own (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)

Your marketing materials need to sell.

Your marketing materials are not an ego trip. They are designed to convert a prospect into a customer. To do that you have to explain, in the first few words, the prospect’s need and how your product or service meets that need. If you don’t get their attention with the headline, the first line or the postscript you won’t get the prospect’s attention. If you don’t immediately capture their interest they will be off. Off to spend their money with your competitors.

Every word should have a purpose.

Every word you use in your copy must have a purpose. That purpose should be clear to your reader. If your reader’s internal dialogue says ‘What on earth is this about?’ you have lost them. Few will continue to read beyond a sentence that makes no sense to them.

Now this doesn’t mean that your copy has to be short (all the research shows that long copy outsells short copy by at least 4:1) but every word has to count. Every word has to mean something to your target audience. Here are some questions to check that your copy will make sense to your prospect:

  • How does this sentence demonstrate that my product or service will meet a need that my prospect will recognise?
  • What does this word or phrase add to my audience’s understanding?
  • What would happen to the clarity of my writing if I cut out 30% of the words  (try it you might be surprised)
  • How does this sentence answer a question that my prospect may be asking?
  • Will my prospect understand my product or service and what they have to gain from buying it?

Take time to reflect.

It’s all too easy to think that your first draft is spot on but it rarely is. Try to leave what you’ve written for at least 24 hours and then go back and re-read. I’ll bet that you can improve upon what you have written. If you don’t have 24 hours before you need to publish ask a dispassionate observer to read it for you. The best person would be a prospect or at least someone who is not as close to your product or service as you are. Don’t explain your writing but ask them to tell you what you are writing about. Listen. Have they got the message you intended to convey? What criticisms do they have? Take them on board and revise your text. Go through the process again.

I’m off to bed! I’ll be leaving this post in the draft box for at least 24 hours and I’ll bet there’ll be some changes before I publish. Oh, and by the way, there are now 99 messages in my Twitter stream clamouring for my attention. Your copy had better be good if you want to sell to me.

P.S. It is now Wednesday morning and I have returned to this post and made a few changes. If I sat on it for another few days I’d probably make more but then I have a deadline to meet so this will have to be good enough. Good enough or perfection, now there’s a topic for another post! Until next time…

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