Content vs Looks

This is another of my articles that I used to offer free on my website but I think its message needs emphasising so here it is.

The content of your website is more important than the way it looks!

Don’t get me wrong! It is important that your website looks professional and attracts your target audience. However, it’s even more important that your message is clear, interesting and persuasive.

Don’t waste thousands of dollars on a pretty website that doesn’t do its job!

Many businesses spend thousands of dollars on fancy looking sites that don’t sell well. Why? Because the content is poor. It doesn’t engage with the website visitor. It doesn’t interest them, it doesn’t tell them what they want to know and it doesn’t encourage them to stay.

Amateur vs Professional

No company would pay thousands of dollars for a double page spread in a glossy magazine and then let an amateur come up with the concept, the copy and the design. So why do they do that very same thing with their websites? Writing copy for the web is an art and a science.

Can’t afford a professional web copywriter?

If you can’t afford a professional web copywriter to do your whole site, I have some suggestions to help you make the most of your website until you can raise your promotional budget. First, if at all possible, at least pay for your homepage to be professionally written and search engine optimised. Second follow the simple rules in my article Tips for writing for the web.

Your website is a promotional tool

A website is a promotional tool. It shouldn’t just be a “presence”. Most businesses invest large sums of money in their sites and they don’t see a return on that investment. So take the time to refine your message; write it – or get it written for you – in a way that really resonates with target audience, and then monitor it’s success.

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Well-written material adds value

If you export or import into English speaking countries and the written material supporting your product or services is written by non-native English speakers, then chances are that you are not realising the full potential of your business. If the quality of the written English is poor then your products or services are perceived as being inferior even though they may not be.

Increase the price potential of your product

If you want to increase your sales and the price you can ask for your products then you need good quality, English written materials. A good quality product with a poorly written English manual will never achieve its price potential.

Cost/benefit analysis

It’s tempting to say that price is king and that by employing a copywriter you’ll be increasing your overheads. That’s not the whole truth though. A poorly written manual can result in many more support calls and product returns than a clearly written one with easy-to-follow instructions. A copywriting fee is a one-off investment; support calls and product returns are ongoing burdens on your business.

This article was written by Munaiba Khan of The Copywriter Online, an online business that offers professional copywriting by native English speakers.

From feature to benefit

Product creators love features – consumers buy benefits!

How many times have you heard or read an ad that was a list of features? Heaps of times probably, especially in the car industry. You know the stuff… ABS, dual airbags, leading edge technology, multiplex electrics and the like.

So why are benefits better selling points that features?

Benefits tell the potential customer the answer to the question that all consumers want answered – “What’s in it for me?”. So instead of listing features a better advertisement would translate those features into benefits. For example: … comes with the protection of dual air bags and an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) that improves road holding and steering by regulating the braking pressure to avoid wheel lock.

How to turn a feature into a benefit

The clue was in the last paragraph. We need to answer the question “What’s in it for me?”. So next time you’re trying to work out what benefits your product offers you can use the following formula – this feature means that… = benefit

I’ll give you some examples:

  • multiplex electrics means that there are fewer wires and connections so it’s easier to service and maintain
  • leading edge technology means the best, most up-to-date, most efficient technology
  • 6 bedroom house means this is a family home with plenty of room for all the kids and then some
  • dual processor means it will process information faster allowing you to work more efficiently

Do you get the picture?

So next time you hire an ad writer, or write one yourself, make sure talk about benefits not features.

Advertising – what works?

This is a perennial question and one I wrote one of my free articles on. I think it ‘s a message that bears repeating so here goes…

Do “clever” advertisements really sell? Can you remember what the ad was for, or which brand? The answer is often “No!”.

Don’t sacrifice clarity for cleverness

It’s good if an advertisement can make you laugh but that shouldn’t be it’s main purpose. Certainly ads that make people laugh have engaged their audience but if they don’t follow through strongly enough then people don’t remember which brand or, sometimes, even what type of product the ad was selling!

So whether you’re engaging a copywriter or an ad agency, or you’re going to write your ads yourself don’t be tricked into thinking that “clever is best”; it isn’t, “clear is best”.

Cleverness wins awards for agencies

Ad agencies love “clever”, quirky ads because they are good contenders for creative awards but how successfully do they sell? Sometimes, spectacularly well, but many times poorly. Make sure your promotional dollars are targeted at selling your product or service and not at enhancing your agency’s PR efforts.

What makes a successful campaign?

We have more than 20 years experience in the advertising, marketing and PR business and can write clear, attractive copy that will sell your product or service. But if you want to do it yourself then you need some rules to follow:

  • Know who your audience is
  • Understand what pushes their buttons
  • See your product or service through their eyes
  • List the features and turn them into benefits (for more on this look out for my next post)
  • Write clear copy that catches their interest and explains the benefits
Ads are just one step in the selling process

A successful ad campaign is the result of preparation, research and testing and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Contact The Copywriter Online to discuss your advertising needs or read our article “How to improve your advertising, save money and get better results”.

A brand new website with WordPress

Are you a small business with limited funds? Yet you need a website that has static pages and a blog? Then I’d really recommend WordPress.com. I got sick of shelling out fees for hosting and was finding it difficult to change things on my site easily so I took a look around at what was on offer. That’s when I found WordPress.

Free hosting and great features
It’s an impressive platform, that’s easy to use, easy to modify and best of all it’s FREE! They have numerous themes which you can make your own by adding photos etc. For a small fee there are upgrades you can have like pointing your own domain to your blog, or adding mp3 and video files.

All in all I found the the experience pleasantly straight forward. Once you’ve mapped your domain to your blog you can use a free Google service that allows you to have your own email addresses like me@mydomain.com etc. This too was easy and the Google instructions were great as were the WordPress ones.

Support
WordPress support is really fantastic, heaps of easy-to-read articles and very responsive, actually helpful (I know this is sort of unheard of these days but it’s true) email support.

Need a website?
If  you need a website with some static pages and a blog then I’d recommend you checkout WordPress. (And no they didn’t pay me to say that.) If you find even that too daunting then contact me and, for a surprisingly low fee, I can set it all up for you and write your pages too if you need copywriting help. Contact me today.

Great deal for Mac users and charities…

If you’re a Mac User than you might be interested in this MacHeist deal. You get a number of useful applications for only $39. Some of the money you spend goes to charity and you get to choose which one of the ten nominated.  I bougth the deal myself – but make your own evalutation. For more details here is the link:http://www.macheist.com/bundle/u/315608/

Enjoy!

P.S. This is a limited time offer. I think there are only a few days left.

How great communication can save your business

Communication is important in all business cycles but it’s even more important in a recession-type environment.

You need to inspire confidence

In a downturn people get nervous. They listen to the doom and gloom spouted by the so-called experts who never saw it coming but who now claim to know everything. Negative energy is contagious just as positive energy is. The more people talk of recession, the more they get nervous, the more they tighten their purse strings, the less business is done, the more people point to a slow down as evidence and so the cycle feeds on itself.

You can make a difference

As I said in my last post, business sentiment is what you think! So are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution? To be part of the solution you need to communicate the positive aspects of your business to your customers in ways that will help them see how that will be a positive for their businesses.

Newsletters, e-Newsletters, positive advertising messages, upbeat web content and blogs

These are all ways you can start to turn around the negativity in the business community. And no, I don’t have my head in the sand. I know there is a problem with US and UK banks but there are many other ways to do business when cash is short and as long as you keep proper records for tax purposes and declare such transactions properly you’re unlikely to have problems – ask your accountant. There are even organisations that will help you do this e.g. Bartercard (and no they didn’t pay me to say that. I have no affiliation with them at all although I did use them and they were a client when I had a business in Tasmania years ago.)

Not sure what to say, how to frame these thoughts into your communications?

That’s where I come in. I know that’s a shameless plug but hey, it’s my blog and I do really believe I can help you bring the positive to the fore in your business communications. You know where I am. Have a good week.