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Charge up your copy

Friday, March 13th, 2009

White plug

 … and win more business!

Whenever I write website content, advertising copy or a new brochure for a client, I start by researching their competitors’ literature. It’s important to see what other people are saying and doing … and then make sure my client’s copy says and does more.

I’m always amazed by how much waffle there is out there, though: empty words, clichés and meaningless phrases about how “with 326 years’ experience, we’re uniquely qualified to bring you quality solutions and a personalised service”. Now what does that actually mean?!

With a little more thought, it’s easy to turbo-boost well-worn words and phrases and make them work harder for you. The trick is to extend the features of your product or service into benefits for your customers. Sometimes you have to - not hit them around the head exactly - but really spell things out for them.

So here are my top ten ‘empty phrases’, and ideas for charging them up …

01: LOCAL

So - you’re local. How does that benefit people? Can you offer them a better price? Maybe your customers like the idea of supporting the local economy, or prefer their goods to have a lower carbon footprint.

Also consider your use of the word ‘local’ when writing for the worldwide web (the clues are in ‘world’ and ‘wide’!).

WEAK:

  • “We are a local firm.”

CHARGED:

  • “Because we’re local to you, it’s easy for you to come and see us.”
  • “Being local means we can offer you fresher cabbages and, with so few food miles, a cleaner, greener conscience.”
  • “We like being local - it means we can build great relationships with our clients.”

02. QUALITY

A bit of a ‘nothing’ word unless you expand on it … high quality, superior quality, excellent quality! The word ‘quality’ is also over-used, so may be meaningless unless you explain why your product or service deserves acclaim.

WEAK:

  • “We offer a quality service.”

CHARGED:

  • “Because our leather is of such high quality, it lasts for years, offering excellent value for money.”
  • “You’ll know instantly that our service is of a superior quality because our receptionists are always smiley.”
  • “The reason our snowmen accessories are of such a great quality? We use only the finest carrots and coal.”

03. BESPOKE

These days, everyone seems to be offering ‘bespoke services’. A more personalised approach to business can only be a good thing, but unless you shout about them, the benefits of your tailor-made offering are in danger of being overlooked by potential customers.

WEAK

  • “Our products are bespoke.”

CHARGED:

  • “Because we offer a bespoke service, the final result will be uniquely yours.”
  • “Our sofas are bespoke, offering you your perfect size, shape, fabric, colour and level of sinkability.”
  • “All our training programmes are bespoke, addressing the particular needs and goals of your employees.”

04. MARKET LEADERS

It’s great you’re at the top of your game. But being a ‘market leader’ doesn’t mean much unless you say why you’re the best, or who deems you the best. For all your customers know, you might be market leaders in taking extended tea breaks and leaving callers on hold.

WEAK:

  • “We are market leaders.”

CHARGED:

  • “Having spent 20 years proving ourselves to be both reliable and innovative, we are proud to call ourselves market leaders.”
  • “We believe we are market leaders in writing Christmas-cracker jokes because we go that bit further than our competitors.”
  • “Our loyal customers deem us the market leaders, so we work hard to maintain our reputation.”

05. FLEXIBLE

Flexibility is an asset - it means you listen carefully to your customers and respond to their needs. People appreciate that. But how can you make your copy sing and dance about your willingness to please?

WEAK:

  • “We take a flexible approach.”

CHARGED:

  • “We keep our approach flexible, constantly listening to what our clients want from us.”
  • “We’re flexible: simply tell us what you like in a doorknob and we’ll design one to suit your budget.”
  • “We welcome fussy clients! Our flexible way of working allows us to create spot-on solutions for everyone.”

06. EXPERTISE

Expertise is important; often it’s your strongest selling point. But everyone’s an expert in something! Make sure your expertise sounds relevant to your business, and is backed up with further information.

WEAK:

  • “Our staff are experts at what they do.”

CHARGED:

  • “Having undergone rigorous training, our staff have the expertise and confidence to deal with your every enquiry.”
  • “Our experience and proven expertise in cat grooming means you can relax, knowing your furball is in safe hands.”
  • “Our expertise comes from ten years’ experience and a continual desire to learn; we’re keen for you to benefit from our knowledge.”  

07. UNIQUE

‘Unique’ is what is known as an absolute adjective, so saying something is ‘completely unique’ or ‘very unique’ adds nothing to the meaning (and may even weaken what you’re trying to say). Try to reserve ‘unique’ for when something really is one of a kind.

WEAK:

  • “We offer a unique service.”

CHARGED:

  • “As far as we know, this service is unique - you won’t find it anywhere else.”
  • “Each of our hand-painted fishbowl castles is unique, making an excellent gift for the fantail in your life.”
  • “Every dress in our boutique is unique, so you’ll never encounter your ‘twin’ at a party.”

08. INNOVATIVE

Ah, innovation! All well and good so long as it benefits your customers … some people don’t like change, remember? So show ‘em why it’s for the best.

WEAK:

  • “Our approach is innovative.”

CHARGED:

  • “We’re innovative - unafraid to be different in order to improve.”
  • “We are innovative, constantly researching ways to make getting dressed in the dark easier for you.”
  • “This innovative approach to lunchbreaks makes for fewer arguments and happier employees.”

09. SKILLED

A lot like expertise, really. If you or your employees are highly skilled, then don’t be shy about saying why and how.

WEAK:

  • “We are skilled in this area.”

CHARGED:

  • “Our skilled staff have undergone training to a high level, ensuring they can deal with every eventuality.”
  • “We pride ourselves on being experienced and skilled in balloon modelling; able to create whatever shape of animal you request.”
  • “Our skilled employees have inside-out knowledge of the industry, in order to give you the best service.”

10. SUCCESSFUL

It’s OK to boast a little about your company’s achievements - that’s how you attract bigger customers and orders. But it’s not enough just to say you’re successful. Tell the world why you’re successful too (and make them want to see for themselves).

WEAK:

  • “We are a successful team.”

CHARGED:

  • “The reason we’re so successful is that we’ve worked hard at making customers happy.”
  • “We’re successful because of our first-class ambience and friendly waiting staff (and also because our chocolate puddings are massive).”
  • “We’ve found a successful formula for running our business: ensuring you, the customer, always come first.”

I hope this helps when you write the content for your next brochure, website or advert. Just don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet sometimes, and always turn the features of your product or service into benefits for the customer.

Please feel free to add comments/suggestions below, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you need further guidance: marie@goodasgoldws.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

Hello world!

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Well now. I quite like WordPress’ default title for new bloggers: “Hello world!” Think I will keep it.

Hello, world. I’m Marie Kreft, owner and copywriter at Good As Gold Writing Services Ltd, based in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Feel free to rummage around my newly designed website (expertly crafted by Dan Mitchell) and see what Good As Gold does.

Thanks to an over-zealous entrepreneur I met last summer, who backstepped me into a corner in dogged pusuit of a sale (fire nozzles), I made three business resolutions: a) don’t bore people, b) don’t scare people and c) try to be interesting. So I’m not here to jabber on and on, but instead to bring you useful updates, worthwhile news … and pictures of the rather erotic Dual Gallonage Combo Nozzle 1-1/2″ NST GPM.

Marie

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