Here’s Why Your Business Copy Sucks

Here's Why Your Business Copy Sucks

Maybe you’re a business owner, startup, entrepreneur, or solopreneur who has been DIY-ing your copy. You’re writing your own blog posts, putting together your web page copy by yourself, and drafting your own emails. And you’re frustrated because you aren’t seeing results, nothing has gone viral, and your copy isn’t converting.

Why?

Because your copy sucks. Plain and simple. Your copy sucks, and it’s joined the ranks of crappy copy all over the internet.

Too many business owners, startups, entrepreneurs, etc. neglect their copy, and I get it. I know why you do it. It’s annoying to sit and write things, especially if you’re not a fan of writing, and even if you do enjoy writing, that doesn’t mean you’re good at it (#harshtruth). Add on to this the fact that quality copywriters are not cheap, and you may be wondering “what the heck do I DO about my crappy copy”?

I see you. I wrote this post for you because you shouldn’t have crappy copy. Because I want to see crappy copy die. Because I know that crappy copy could very well be the thing that’s holding your business back from true success.

A note before we start

Notice that my reasoning/examples here are quite broad. Your specific copy goals and needs are absolutely dependent on you, your company, your audience, the type of copy you’re writing, and the delivery system.

Also, if you’re confused about what I mean when I say “copy” it’s a term I use to refer to any written communications with your customers. This could be blog posts or articles, webpages or landing pages, sales funnels, emails, newsletters, social media posts, marketing materials, advertisements, etc.

I give detailed reports, solutions, and strategies to my consulting clients, however, even these free guidelines can help you overcome some crappy copy.

Okay, we’re diving in. Take notes.

Here’s why your business copy sucks

You don’t have copy goals

It’s not enough to put something out into the dark, cold void that is the internet and hope for the best. In fact, you’re wasting your time and resources by creating copy with no purpose. Copy for copy’’s sake is not going to work. Not for you, your audience, or your business. That’s why you need to establish copy goals.

Here are some questions you need to ask before you set copy goals:

  1. What is this copy going to do for you, your audience, and your business? Not sure? Here are some ideas:
  • Inform
  • Educate
  • Entertain
  • Build credibility
  • Establish you/your business as the industry expert (or, the go-to)
  • Build visibility
  • Grow your audience
  1. What action do you want readers to take after they get their eyeballs on your copy?
    Do you want them to call you, share your post, buy a product or service? Or do you want them to learn something new, have an emotional reaction, or think “hey, this person knows what they’re talking about”? It can be more than one of these options, or any other option you dream up.

  2. Who is going to write this copy?
    Do you employ an SME (subject-matter expert) who will produce this copy for you? Are you going to write it yourself? Are you going to hire out a copywriter to do it for you? (Please, for the love of god, you get what you pay for. Remember that.)

  3. Where will this be published?
    Is this copy for your website, blog, newsletter, printed materials? Each publishing avenue will garner subtly different goals for the copy you produce.

You don’t know what you’re talking about

Fake it ‘til you make it isn’t great advice, generally, but it’s even less helpful when it comes to writing copy. Very, very few writers can fake expertise. “But wait”, you shout at the screen, flummoxed and intrigued, “Morgan, writers can’t know all the things!” I know. We can’t. We try. And we brag. But we can’t.

That’s why if you find yourself writing about a topic you don’t know well, find a SME (Subject Matter Expert) and ask them a billion questions. Do your research. Learn as much as you can. Have the SME review the written materials before you publish them to make sure they’re coherent. Then you can write with authority.

This is a lesson I learned during my years of corporate technical writing. In fact, I spent months and months writing installation guides for Fire Alarm Control Panels. I didn’t know how to install those things. Wires are scary. But I had access to people who had been doing it for 30 years, asked for hands-on training and took weeks worth of classes (that certified electricians pay thousands of dollars to take) and had the SME’s review everything I wrote before it went out to the customers.

That’s how you write with authority, even if you aren’t an expert. So, if you choose to (or are forced to) produce copy for your business in areas that you aren’t 100% on, you know what to do.

You don’t know who you’re talking to

If you don’t know your audience (and you don’t have copy goals) your copy is going to feel disjointed and weird. One week you’ll write an article that’s perfect for potential customers and the next you’ll write one perfect for other experts in your field.

That non-strategy is going to make it really difficult for your audience to find you, trust you, follow you, and engage with you.

Your copy is self-serving

Your business copy doesn’t have to be altruistic, and you certainly don’t have to avoid selling your product or service, but copy that is totally self-serving is transparent, and it’s a big turn off for your audience.

Think of your copy like an extension of your customer service department. Your copy should work to meet the needs of your customers first, and meet your needs second. This is a big principle in Content Marketing (I’ll discuss this more at a later date) but it applies to all of the copy your business produces.

Cut sheets inform. User manuals educate. Marketing materials educate. Blog posts and articles can entertain, inform, educate, etc. Webpage copy answers questions. See? It’s about the customer. Yes, this consistently engaging, quality content will put your business in a position of authority, will build trust, and will ultimately generate more revenue, but that’s all second thoughts to customer service.

Your copy isn’t accessible

When we talk about levels of writing, we’re talking about the language you use to communicate ideas to your audience. You’ll write differently for copy that is targeted at high-school seniors than you would copy that’s targeted at Ph.D. students. The same goes for different levels of industry.

Unless your audience is other experts in your field, you’ll have to stay away from jargon and industry slang. (Did you notice that I took the time to define what I meant by “copy”? That’s because I’m not writing to other copywriters; I’m writing to business owners and entrepreneurs.)

Likewise, if your copy doesn’t have a logical flow, or a point, you’ll lose people quickly. No one wants to read a disjointed rant on the correct screw size to use for table benches.

Okay, there are a lot of ways copy can suck. But what makes good copy?

Here’s what good copy does

  1. It communicates ideas clearly, avoiding jargon, hyperbole, and illogical organization.
  2. It makes connections that may not be obvious.
  3. It converts potential customers to paying customers.
  4. It resonates with (or provides value to) readers.
  5. It listens to customers (not your competitors).
  6. It recognizes and solves unique problems for your readers.
  7. It portrays value.
  8. It gets to the point (brevity, yo), when appropriate, and gives more details when needed.
  9. It quantifies when it can.

Conclusion

There you go, here’s a list of some of the reasons your business copy sucks. Fortunately, crappy copy isn’t an incurable disease. If you need extra help creating a content strategy, or creating killer copy that doesn’t suck, reach out to me and I’ll be happy to help your business figure it out.

 

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