The other day I was chairing the monthly networking group I run – the Coffee & Cake Business Network, usually shortened to Coffee & Cake when the subject of common copywriting mistakes came up.
Coffee & Cake takes place every third Thursday of the month at a lovely family-run cafe in Huddersfield, Cafe Society on Byram Street, between 4.30pm and 6pm.
Usually I ask a business professional to come along and answer questions on their particular area of expertise, during the Q&A part of the meeting (the rest is largely about making connections and eating cake). Over the past two years we’ve covered topics as diverse as pricing, social media, business plans, council funding and approaching the media – with relevant experts in each field.
This month I decided it was time that I put myself in the hot seat to answer questions about copywriting.
First we talked about the difference between these two diverse areas.
Copyright is a legal term relating to the protection of a piece of work from anyone who wants to copy it or use it in some form or other, eg copyright prevents a writer from taking chunks of text from someone else’s book and passing it off as their own work.
Copywriting is all about writing copy – a marketing skill relating to writing the words that will help sell a business’s products and services.
Other questions included:
But one of the questions that garnered the most interest was:
This question raised a bit of a chuckle, especially when I sighed and said: “Where do I start?”
As a professional copywriter, I often have to rewrite web copy or other marketing material that has been written by someone working for the company. They usually call me in when they are rebranding and relaunching their website, or when someone has pointed out that there are mistakes in the copy or it just isn’t working as well as it should as a piece of marketing material.
1. Not having a clear idea of their marketing message before they start. This results in a muddled message and poor copy.
2. Writing the first thing that comes into their head about the company on the home page, which is why so many websites start with “Founded in *date* and based in *location*”, neither of which tend to be the most important information that their clients need to know before all else.
3. Not considering how to address their clients’ needs – the typical marketing mistake of selling the features rather than the benefits (ie selling the drill rather than the hole).
4. Being so enthusiastic about their company that they write about absolutely everything, rather than picking out the key points and encouraging potential clients to contact them to find out more.
5. Writing long, long sentences that just seem to go on for ever without a pause – and putting them in dense paragraphs with few paragraph breaks and no headings or bullet points.
Because we can all write, we tend to forget that writing for business is a particular skill that is best done by or under the guidance of a professional writer.
As start-ups and many SMEs might not have the budget to hire a professional copywriter, I now offer a fixed fee Marketing/Copywriting 1-2-1 to help those who will be writing their own copy.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to find out more (firstname.lastname@example.org) or why not come along to the next Coffee & Cake?
Creative, affordable copywriting that will help you sell your products and services. From blogging packages and web content to press releases and e-marketing, we offer professional copywriting in Huddersfield and Leeds and across West Yorkshire and the UK.
Read my monthly column in The Eye magazine, interviews with top authors in Excelle magazine, features written for Around Town magazine and a variety of articles written for the national press.
From Joanne Harris to Iain Banks, find out more about events with bestselling authors and creative writing courses in Huddersfield run by Key Words.
For business there’s a choice of Writing for Business seminars, one-off masterclasses and speaking engagements, as well as our monthly Coffee & Cake Business Network event at Café Society in Huddersfield