common copywriting mistakes

So you've put in the work with your business.  You've found the perfect niche, you've researched who your ideal clients are and what challenges they're facing and you've carefully created the perfect products and services to solve them.

Everything should be running smoothly... BUT ... still. no. sales.​..

I'm going to take a stab in the dark and suggest it's because you're not communicating effectively enough with your audience. Put simply, you're probably making at least one of these  common copywriting mistakes...​

In the list below, I'm going to walk you through 10 of the quickest and most frequent ways that businesses are completely messing up their message.

1) You're not following a process​

Be honest. How often do you just sit down and start writing? No plan, no specific goals in mind (other than 'I need to finish this blog post/sales page/email ..) and no structure? Then you wonder why your content doesn't hit home? 

Getting it right:​ 

Get organised. Spend some time planning what you want to achieve with your content, what your key message will be and how you're going to structure it.  Research best practices and commonly used formulas to make sure you're incorporating already proven techniques.

Check out this post for more on copywriting formulas.

2) You're not keeping your goal in mind

You may have read the point above, indignantly thinking 'but I DO all that!'  If that's the case - wonderful! That's a great start.  Having a goal in mind when you're creating content is what keeps you focused and what gives your writing direction and purpose.  That's IF we keep that goal in mind as we write.  Another common copywriting mistake is to start writing and then get carried away or distracted by the creative process (if that doesn't sound too naff!)

Getting it right:

I find the best way to avoid this is to firstly, break up my content before I begin by planning out the key sections ahead of time.  Secondly, once I'm in the editing phase, I can go through and cut out everything that isn't leading me towards my goal.  Sometimes you have to be brutal - but your final piece will be better for it.​

3) You're not keeping your audience in mind​

'Copywriting isn't my thing'

'I'm not a natural writer'

'I'm not creative' .... 

These are all things that I've heard people say about their ability to write.  Now imagine if people said the same about talking​...

'Talking isn't my thing'

I'm not a natural talker

I'm not creative (enough to talk)

Sounds a bit ridiculous right?​ But the thing is, there are really very few differences. When it comes to copywriting for your business or blog, one of the key skills is to make your writing sound natural - to make it sound like you.   If you can do that when you speak, then why not when you write?

Getting it right:

The key difference of course is that when you're writing, there's no one actually there.  It doesn't feel natural, in the same way that speaking to yourself doesn't feel natural. So don't speak to yourself! Speak to your audience!  Keep them in mind while you're writing. Imagine your ideal client is right there in front of you and write as if you were chatting to them about whatever subject you're focusing on.​

4) ​Not Using Your Readers' Voice

Now this point, could have been a part of the one above because the root cause is the same; that is, not keeping your audience in mind while you write.  However, I felt it deserved it's own spot because, well because it's slightly different!

You see, keeping your audience in mind isn't quite enough.  You have to use their language too.  We do it naturally when we speak.  Think about how you speak to your friends, your children, your clients, your doctor.... it changes depending on the audience right? ​

Getting it right:

Learn how your ideal clients describe their challenges, their hopes and so on.  Then use this same language in your own writing.  That's it!

5) Focusing on features rather than benefits​

Imagine you go to your dentist with horrendous toothache.  She takes a look and then explains that she's going to perform a new procedure on you.  She describes the drill she's going to use, she gives you a list of all the drugs you'll have, she draws a diagram showing where she and her assistant will be standing and what colours they'll be wearing...

That's all great, but the only thing you really want to know is WILL IT CURE MY TOOTHACHE????​

We often do the same when we're writing about our own products and services and this is a big mistake because we're missing the key bits of information which are going to really make a difference to our ideal clients.

Getting it right:

​Features are important, sure - but the stars of the show should be the BENEFITS of your products and services!  What problems are you solving? How will your customers' lives change for the better?

6) ​Trying to sell something your ideal clients don't want

No amount of good copy is going to save you if your product sucks.  There, I've said it. 

So, so, so often we fall into that trap of deciding FOR our customers what it is they need.  The problem is, if they just don't want that, they're not going to pay for it.

Getting it right:​

Before attempting to sell ANY product or service, do your due diligence.  ​ Research competitors, get customer feedback, test your ideas.  If people aren't already paying for your product or service elsewhere, there are only 2 reasons for that.  Either you've struck gold and found something no one else has ever thought of OR it's just not a viable idea.  99.9999% of the time, it's the latter.

If people tell you they wouldn't be interested in your idea - well you're going to be hard pushed to change their minds.  Time to find out what they WOULD be interested in!​

7) You're focusing on facts rather than emotion​

I should caveat this by saying that facts are also important! However, on their own, facts are dry and frankly,  pretty dull.

When we buy, we do so because of emotions.  When we choose to work with a particular business, we do so because we're more emotionally drawn to them than their competitors.

Getting it right:

​This goes hand in hand with remembering benefits over features.  If you think of features as the facts, then the benefits are where you play to emotions.  Rather than focusing on external factors, start looking at the internal ones.  So your clients are overweight and want to get thin? How does that make them FEEL?  How would being thin change that?

8) Offering a discount instead of a bonus​

As business owners, often one of the biggest decisions we face is what to charge?  We struggle with this because we want to reach that sweet spot - enough to meet our own revenue targets, but not so much that people aren't willing to pay it.

There's a school of thought that says that price is actually irrelevant.  It's all about how well you communicate the value of your products and services.  If you can convince your customers that what you're selling is worth 10x the price you're charging, then that's a bargain.

Each time you discount your price, you're lessening the value of what you're selling.​ You're also teaching your customers to expect this lower price - so your normal price now actually seems unreasonable!

Getting it right:

Rather than pushing the sale by discounting the price, instead ADD value. Offer bonuses so people feel like they're getting more than they paid for.

9) ​You're not including social proof

It's one thing if YOU'RE telling people how great your products and services are, but it's SOOO much more powerful if your customers are doing that for you!  

Heard of the 'know, like and trust factor'? That's basically the journey we all have to go on before we're prepared to buy from a business.  We have to know who that business is in the first place (well duh!), we have to feel a connection with them and we have to trust them.  We have to believe they'll deliver on their promise.  Isn't it so much easier to believe that if you can see a whole bunch of previous customers telling you it's so?

Getting it right:

Firstly, keep getting feedback.  Secondly, use it in your content! Job done.​

10) You're not testing​

The way we improve is to learn what works and what doesn't work - then do more of what works.  Simple!  If you're not testing, then how do you know?

Getting it right:

Wherever possible, test.  Test different headlines, test different subject lines, test topics, formats, images....TEST!

Gradually you'll be able to build a picture of exactly what works for YOUR ideal clients.  Sometimes this may echo what is already best practice - but sometimes it may not and the only way you'll discover that is by experimentation.​

Stay social!​

How many of these mistakes have you been making? Let me know in the comments!​

Before you go!

If you're still dreaming of quitting your 9-5 and creating a business doing what you love then this quick quiz is for you!  Go on - you're just 30 seconds from finding out how close you are and what your next steps should be!

Colette Broomhead

Helping you to leave your 9-5 behind for good and create a business and life you love.

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