So much of marketing is deciding and articulating the messages each of your unique markets will respond to.
In our firm, we write gobs and gobs of copy. Often it is to replace or rewrite what law, CPA and other financial advisory firms have already prepared.
What's wrong with most firms' website, brochure, or ad language?
Well, a lot. Usually it's predictable, dull, pointless, far too verbose, and often it lacks any call to action. Most firms just have a terrible time figuring out what to say and then how to say it well.
My advice? Read the stuff below and/or hire a copywriter. If a copywriter is outside of your budget, at least hire a great editor who knows how to help you get your points across more effectively.
Harry Joiner posted top copywriter Alan Rosenspan's 10 Rules for Writing More Effective Copy. This is such a great list, I had to repeat it. Here's what Alan advises:
1) Start with your most important benefit. Many copywriters hem and haw, and metaphorically clear their throat before they tell you what's important. Or worse, they save it for the end - like the punchline of a joke. Would any newspaper survive doing that - or do they give you the most dramatic story right in the headline?
2) Write like you talk. That's how people like to read. Even if you are writing to the most educated target market - keep it simple. The best test of writing is how it sounds when you read it out loud. I came across an ad for a cologne that read, "The incarnation of the masculine duality interpreted with humor." Try reading that out loud with a straight face.
3) Include ideas and information. Some writing feels like biting into a marshmallow - there's nothing to grab hold of and chew. Don't try to impress me with your writing, your knowledge or how clever you are. Give me an idea, a fact, a nugget of information in each paragraph. Otherwise, I won't continue reading.
4) Short words and sentences work. Not sure why. Makes it easy to read. Worth testing.
5) Long letters work, too. If you really want to know what works in direct marketing - study those who live and die by it. If IBM's direct mail doesn't work - IBM will still grow and prosper. But if Save the Children's direct mail doesn't work... That's why so many non-profits and mail-order companies use 2, 4, 8 and even 24-page letters. They work.
6) Connect the dots. When you use words like "And" or "But" to begin a sentence, you may be using poor grammar. But you're also leading the reader from sentence to sentence ... connecting the ideas ... and coaxing them to read on. And it works.
7) Ask provocative questions. It's one of the best ways to get attention. Our direct mail letter for Scott's LawnService started with "What's wrong with your lawn?" It won a Gold Echo and created over $28 million worth of additional business.
8) Write something that's never been written before. Travel writing is the worst example of this - every destination is invariably "a study in contrasts." Every business has their share of jargon and specific terms. Try to replace them with something new and refreshing.
9) Tell me a story. Before there was copywriting, before there were hieroglyphics - people communicated by telling stories. Children love them, and so do we. We want to know what happened, then what happened next, and how did it end? If you tell interesting stories in your copy, you will always be successful. The famous package for the Wall Street Journal is a perfect example. It's not about the newspaper - it's the story of two young men.
10) Rewrite for success. The best writing looks almost effortless. As if the phrases and sentences flew magically onto the page. But aren't you a little too old to believe in magic? Good writing is hard work. It involves an enormous amount of preparation and research, so you know what you are writing about. And then it involves getting it all down onto paper in a coherent and compelling manner. There are no shortcuts.
Another great list of Alan's is 12 Marketing Techniques he's used.
They're all great ideas, but most important for professional service firms to heed are these three:
3. Show your product in use.
9. Address a barrier
12. Here’s the one to avoid
In fact, Alan's whole site is packed with great information. Check it out!