Improve Your Small Business Copywriting With 5 Tips From Bareknuckle
Strong, effective copywriting is essential for every modern business. As the core of content marketing, great small business copywriting helps you build trust with potential customers and gain valuable attention online. Your copywriting expresses your brand’s value and, when executed properly, converts new customers and retains loyal ones.
You may be thinking, “That’s all well and good, but writing is scary.” Of course it is. Writing can be intimidating for business owners. Hell, it can be intimidating for writers. But don’t shy away from it—you can be a copywriting expert for your small business in no time.
Copywriting 101: How to Write Great Copy for Your Small Business
What the heck is copywriting and where do you start?
The craft of copywriting is a type of persuasive writing specifically used to promote a brand and persuade people to take action—whether that action is to download an eBook, enter an email, or use a Black Friday discount.
Copywriting is a skill—it takes practice to write consistent, effective, and engaging copy. Small business copywriting can make or break conversion rates, so it pays to learn the skill or hire an expert to write for you.
Ready to write copy that converts? Let’s look at the components of great copy so you can start conveying the right message in the right way to the right audience.
Copywriting vs. Content Writing
Copywriting is often confused with content writing, and while you can absolutely implement copywriting methods in your content writing, copywriting is distinctly persuasive, punchy, and to-the-point. We should note, “to-the-point” does not mean “in your face” like those outdated commercials screaming BUY NOW!! We’ll show you how to avoid that trap below.
Great copy is undeniably the most important tool to connect with your audience, increase brand loyalty, and convert your content into sales. You know that TV commercial that’s advertising for the latest model of the Ford Mustang? A copywriter wrote the script for that ad with the pure intention of trying to get you to make a purchase.
When writing copy for your small business, there are a few simple strategies that will help you write engaging, fun, and informative copy that converts and helps your small business thrive.
1. Be Positive.
Copywriting is serious business, but it doesn’t have to sound like it. Positivity, friendliness, and relatability converts. The last thing you want is for a customer to feel crummy, shameful, or disgusted when viewing your advertisement. While there is certainly a place for cynicism and snarkiness, your copywriting isn’t that place. Be positive in your writing whenever possible (it’s almost always possible).
Customers are more likely to talk about your brand positively if you write in a positive tone. It’s true. A study from the Journal of Research and Marketing found that positive word of mouth (PWOM … because who doesn’t like acronyms?) is much more effective than negative word of mouth (NWOM) in terms of brand purchase probability.
Writing in a positive tone means expressing ideas in an upbeat or optimistic way. While there’s no need to go full Disneyland princess on your customers, be aware that positivity is part of professionalism. This is easy to forget as copywriting is generally conversational in terms of style. But just because you are conversational and professional doesn’t mean positivity has to dwindle away.
How about a quick writing lesson? Don’t sigh … it’ll be much more simple and straight-to-the-point than high school english class was.
Style is the way something is written and includes diction (word choice) and tone (attitude). It’s perfectly fine to have a conversational diction as long as you write with positive word choices and stick to an uplifting tone.
The Mayor announced good things were coming to the town.
The Mayor claimed good things were coming for the town.
According to a group of smart people at Harvard, if going viral is your game plan (who wouldn’t want to go viral?), then writing in a positive tone will up your chances. The logic is simple enough: people like to share their joy with others. If your brand is giving them joy, they want to show their mom, brother, aunt, and cousin’s best friend’s boyfriend’s dog too.
2. Be Direct.
Let’s say you have a problem and you look to good ole’ Google for an answer. You find a promising article on the very first page of search results, but it’s littered with jargon. You would probably feel distanced from the article, which could make your problem feel much bigger and more difficult to solve. You become frustrated and leave the website all together.
As a brand you want customers to come to you for answers, so you have to communicate with them directly and authentically. All copywriting within your brand should be accessible and solution-oriented, as well as direct. Be kind to your customers. If you’re there to provide them with a product, service, or answer then make it easy for them to get what they’re looking for.
Here’s are some rules for being direct with your copywriting:
Say it with less.
Don’t overwrite just for the sake of including more words. A lot of people actually hate words—hence the “writing is scary” statement earlier. They want you to get straight to the point so they get their answer as soon as possible.
Write assertive calls to action.
If you don’t sound direct and confident about your product’s value then why should your customer? Instead of using “Purchase Here” when writing copy for your tanning oil company, try something along the lines of “Look Bronzed and Beautiful Now!”.
Write using “you” and “your”.
Using these terms makes a customer feel like you’re talking directly to them—like your product is a perfect fit for them specifically. And that’s exactly what you want, right? Stay away from speaking to a general audience and directly target the person that’s reading your copy.
Remove “I believe” and “I think”.
Umm … are you sure? That’s what your audience will think when you don’t sound positive about what you’re selling in your copy. You’re sure about your product, you’re sure that your customer will love it, and you’re sure you want to sell to them. Write like it.
3. Make ‘Em Feel Something
Do you remember that tear-jerking SPCA commercial with Sarah McLachlan? OK now, don’t get tears all over your freshly dry-cleaned business suit. Emotions mean a lot to people, and when you can tap into someone’s emotions with your copywriting, then you’re likely to draw that emotional connect with them.
Some sort of science tells us that when you observe something that displays strong emotions, you transfer part of that feeling onto yourself. It’s kind of like pushing someone’s buttons. If you cringe at the thought of that person irritating you again or tear up at the thought of sad puppy pictures and Sarah McLachlan’s heartbreaking voice then you’re conveying emotions for that situation.
Any brand can do this in the same way. By speaking to the feeling that a person might have, you’re rekindling that emotion in them. It doesn’t have to be sad either—any brand can tap into emotions with their copywriting. Talk about the great time some guy’s going to have at his next Sunday football party with his friends. Make him grin and daydream at the thought of it. Betcha he’ll be on his way to the supermarket as soon as he can.
4. DO Sweat the Small Stuff
We’re all taught to let the small stuff go, but this isn’t the case when it comes to copywriting. When you’re trying to get a purchase out of a customer, the small stuff matters more than we might think.
When we say small stuff, you’re probably thinking about really, really paying attention to every tiny detail in your ads. Although this is also important, we’re referring to the literal term “small”.
Let’s be real, a lot of us are … tightwads, should we say? We’re drawn to sales, clearance racks, discount codes, and specials. We love a good deal and there’s nothing wrong with that. But what if your brand isn’t necessarily offering any deals? You have to write in a way that makes your customers feel like they’re paying a “small” amount for something.
The science behind this art of copywriting is that customers are actually drawn to the word “small” or anything similar to it when it comes to prices, fees, and things of the sort. And—get this—they’re actually 20% more inclined to make a purchase in this case as well.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re a gym and your monthly membership costs $25 per month. And then you charge a $15 annual fee. When advertising your brand, consider incorporating the “small” language in your copywriting.
Wrong: Tough Guy Gym is $25/month plus a $15 annual fee.
Right: Tough Guy Gym is $25/month, with a small annual fee of only $15.
Get it? Cool.
5. Write With Active Voice.
Always write your copy in an active voice-it’s energetic, it’s active. Here’s a grammar lesson to help you clearly understand what writing in an active voice really means.
Active voice: In an active sentence, the subject of the sentence performs the action.
Passive voice: In a passive sentence, the subject receives the action.
An active voice is important in writing (and especially in copywriting specifically) because it energizes your copy and moves customers to act … and convert! When you write in a passive voice you tend to lose the customer’s attention mid-sentence, which is definitely not good for conversion. An active voice keeps them engaged, excited, and ready to make a move (or a purchase).
Here are some examples of active vs. passive sentences.
Passive: At dinner, eight beers were drank by Steve.
Active: Steve drank eight beers at dinner. (Steve is drunk)
Passive: The entire picture was painted by Lee.
Active: Lee painted the entire picture.