A Short Cut to Better Copy
My friend Bob has a sign on the wall of his screen printing shop just to the right of the desk where he sits with customers to take their orders. It says:
You can have it fast.
You can have it cheap.
You can have it be good.
But you can’t have all three.
For Bob, it’s a constant reminder that he can’t be all things to all people. For his customers, it’s a subtle reminder of what they should expect.
In business, we have to choose our focus or we’ll exhaust ourselves trying to be all things to all people. What sets you apart? What do you value? Ultimately, you should choose based on a combination of your preferences and what you think is important to the customers you want to attract. What you want to end up with is a direction that is authentic and easier to follow because it fits you.
There’s something else. They are conduits to connect with your readers. They help you generate all sorts of fabulous ideas for content.
Sometimes you will be obvious and whomp your reader with your message about identifying your values – it’s a way to obliterate a major roadblock to writing great copy. When you have those values in mind, you have cleared a path to write copy that attracts and engages your audience.
These values set the tone for everything you write:
“No one beats our prices.”
“You won’t find a higher quality.”
“When you need it done fast and right.”
More often, however, you will be subtler and find ways to weave your message throughout your copy creating a beacon that calls to your best customers.
Let’s take a look at what that looks like in real life. Suppose you sell cars. Not just any cars, however. These are expensive, luxury cars. As you write about your business, you are going to focus on the aspects of these vehicles that are most important to your customers. Maybe it’s how quiet the engine runs or how shiny the metal detailing is. What you are not talking about is price and how cheap these cars are.
“Give her the present that will keep giving all year long.”
“There’s no stress behind the wheel of this car.”
“You don’t need to know where you’re going when you’re getting there in style.”
“On the other hand, if you’re selling cheap used cars, you want to focus more on the price than the quality of the vehicle.
“Have a car to get home and bring the presents.”
“The car of your dreams without the price tag of your nightmares.”
“What good is a car if you don’t have money to put gas in the tank?”
Try this interesting exercise – as you look at ads, social media posts and emails that come from companies, see if you can identify the values behind the messages. As buyers, we make decisions based on those values all the time whether we’re aware of it or not. If something is expensive, we assume it’s high quality. If it’s cheap, we have our doubts.
As you review what your website, social media profiles and other collateral, ask your self if it expresses the right values for your company. And as you draft your communication plans for the coming year, think about how you will express those values. Let those values guide you in choosing subjects and deciding how to write about them.
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