The Start-up business guide to professional copywriting

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Considering how cost-effective professional copywriters are, every small business should include these six elements in their marketing strategy.

Being a professional copywriter can sometimes feel like a thankless task. We’re like the wallflowers at the marketing party, always a secondary consideration. Design is the belle of the ball. Everyone is instantly attracted to beautiful visuals.

But here’s the thing…

You may be attracted to a brand due to its imagery, but that brand cannot speak without words. Copywriters are the brand’s voice.

Successful organisations are well aware of the importance of professional copywriting. Think of your favourite brands and ask yourself if they have elements like tag lines, slogans, mission and vision statements, and optimised web content. The answer will always be yes.

So let’s take a look at the essential starter guide and illustrate how easy it is to correctly brand your business.

Tag lines

Good tag lines seldom change, and many of the best have been etched into the memories of millions of people.

If you see the Nike logo, you think ‘just do it’. Spot a KFC sign and think ‘finger lickin’ good’. Yellow Pages is synonymous with ‘let your fingers do the walking’. In all those cases, imagine the logo without the tag line and consider how effective it is.

At Blak Ink Media, we create as many tag lines as possible for our clients, and present our favourites (usually about 20). The best ones are often among the first few ideas, but we’ll put at least half a day into exploring tangents and delivering strong options. Remember that this line could be associated with your logo forever.

For the client, the most difficult part of the process is making a decision. When decision-makers are agonising over that choice, it usually means we’ve done a good job.

You may choose one tag line but the other lines can be used for slogans, web copy, ads, and landing pages. In the world of professional copywriting, the tag line is the ultimate gig.

Mission Statement

This brief line of copy (ideally no more than a dozen words) boldly states who you are as a business and brand.

Often found in the ‘about’ section of websites or printed on the back of promotional material, this copy may not be seen often, but it creates concrete goals. You’ll refer to this statement whenever you feel the organisation is losing its focus.

Your customers and partners should feel assured when they read it, and your staff should feel proud and inspired whenever they see it.

Google’s Mission Statement provides inspiration externally and internally:

“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

It’s meant to be simple but powerful. It must endure. It’s your entire company’s brief.

Vision Statement

The best way to remember how ‘mission’ and ‘vision’ differ is to think of a mission as an actionable plan and a vision as a view of the future.

Vision Statements can be longer (a full sentence), and should predict what your market, region (or even the entire world) will be like when your mission succeeds. Step into the future and describe how your business has changed behaviour and made the world a better place.

Just like Save the Children did with this example:

A world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. 

Done well, it’s especially powerful for staff and partners who can imagine how proud they’ll be if those lofty ambitions become a reality.

Optimised website copy

Your homepage will be at the top of your site’s hierarchy, closely followed by pages that categorise your offering. At the very least, all the index pages should be written by a copywriter who can either effectively optimise copy or work closely with an SEO consultant.

These pages are the most powerful weapons in your battle to rank high on search engine results pages. After your SEO keyword research is done, top-tier pages will own a few of the most powerful, broad terms. Each page will ideally have at least one popular keyword featured in the URL, page title, headers, alt tags and content.

These pages are critical to conversion. They’ll usually be quite static, therefore it’s best to get them right the first time.

Product descriptions and landing pages

While much of your search traffic will go to index pages, most of your social media posts and online ads will take customers directly to a page aiming at conversion.

It’s not difficult to make users jump through the first couple of hoops, but when it comes time to part with their money, there’s a natural tendency for people to be wary. So consider writing multiple versions of landing pages for A/B testing to see which one is the most effective.

In all cases, the easiest way to lose a customer is when you reveal the price, so you’re going to need professional copywriting. Predict reactions and prepare for hurdles. Think of everything your audience may consider before buying, and write copy that eliminates any concerns.

Professional copywriters know how to create triggers that make your users take that final step to the shopping cart or subscription form.

Ad copy

With ads being measurable due to hot competition between platforms, we can see exactly where an ad succeeded or failed.

My advice is to always experiment with multiple ad versions for a few days at a low budget, and then eliminate whatever doesn’t work. In just a few days of experimentation you’ll see where the hurdles are, whether it’s target audience, copy, imagery or a call to action.

It may be a little expensive during the first few days as you monitor performance, but in the end you’ll find a combination of elements for an affordable ad with strong ROI.

If you start enjoying a high click-through rate but fail to convert, you need to go back to the product pages or landing pages and find the barrier. Look at incongruence (an inconsistency between messaging in the ad and the destination page), price, or even poor user experience.

What about the rest of your content?

Other pages that might benefit from a professional copywriter include staff biographies, the ‘about’ section, and newsletters.

As for print, much of your online copy can be repurposed, but always remember they’re different mediums. Believe it or not, I’ve seen brochures that include the words ‘click here’.

The five categories I’ve covered need a professional touch. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking an untrained employee can write effective copy. In theory, we all know how to write, but some of us have devoted hundreds of hours to studying the psychology and techniques that turn a few words into a compelling case.

If you want to think big, think about big businesses and how they use language to build brand perception, set missions, state their ambitions, and most importantly, attain and retain loyal customers.

Jeefunk Mitchell is a former Digital Production Manager at News Corp and Co-Director of Blak Ink Media – a full-service, digital agency based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Blak Ink currently provides web development, copywriting, content marketing, social media and SEO services to clients in Cambodia, Australia and the UK.

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