The purpose of your content and copy is to educate and inspire potential clients about your brand and keep existing clients updated with brand progress and new products and services.
Good content will drive web traffic, but how do you know what makes good content? There is no universal template; as with cheap leggings- one size does not fit all!
However, there are some guidelines that will set you in good stead when starting, or updating, your content strategy.
Make it useful.
Potential sales and service engagements are a two-way street for the supplier and the customer. To persuade a client to believe and invest in your product they need to be given information. Customers need to feel they have had a useful and enlightening interaction with your brand- good content is a perfect opportunity to showcase your integrity, reliability, products and services, and to establish authority as a force to be reckoned with within your field. This is a client expectation, don’t disappoint.
Keep it clean.
This isn’t necessarily a warning about using the ‘f bomb’ within your content or advertising- there is a time and place for this- I stumbled across this product and think the strategy works, after all, who wants glue that doesn't stick?
What I essentially mean is to watch out for those typos, bad punctuation, dodgy spelling, and missing or misplaced capital letters; helping your uncle jack off a horse and helping your Uncle Jack off a horse are two entirely different activities- don’t mix them up.
Maintain the truth.
To add genuine value to the perception of your brand, you really do need to keep it real and tell the truth. Emphasis will obviously be placed on the real benefits while muting some aspects, but your clients and customers deserve to be given the truth; otherwise, when the bubble bursts, they will feel betrayed and waste no time is spreading the news about your false claims. Additionally, getting your mates to write testimonials and give you 5-star ratings on Google will not ultimately improve your brand, it will merely imitate success. When you think about it, if you need to make it up, isn’t it about time you invested in improving your actual product? *just a thought*
It goes without saying that the art of creating good quality and engaging content is far more complex and involved than the 3 little ‘starters for 10’ listed above, however, the point is that without good content the outside world cannot get to know and love your brand in the same way that you do- that is a wasted opportunity. My heartfelt advice to anyone seeking to gain traction in commercial environments is to never underestimate the power of your web content and marketing copy.
It would be fair to say that usually in life you get what you pay for. There are obviously exceptions to the rule- we all have that one friend that manages to bag herself ‘genuine’ bargains featuring Louis Vuitton® or Mulberry® products from some top-secret location on holiday, but in general, if you are prepared to pay a fair price you will get you an authentic product or service. Some potential clients are not prepared for the time estimates from writers to complete a commission, some think that writers can just write about anything, immediately. This is rarely the case- your writer needs to be allocated time to understand your brand, your vision, your competition, only then can you be provided with a good quality piece of writing. One pointer I often give potential clients is that if you work out how much net profit each sale makes, and then be realistic about how many new sales will be created by better web content and marketing copy, you can soon see the benefit in the financial investment.
There are very few companies that would argue about the importance of their website engaging clients. A potential new client will often have their first introduction to your brand or service by finding your site through a search engine, having a browse from a word of mouth recommendation or following up from a business card exchange. This initial interaction has the power to make or break the future success of this new connection.
Sell the product, sell the dream.
The visual appeal of your website obviously matters; the layout, how cool your pictures are and the whole UX impacts on your successes. Once you get past the visual ‘wow’, potential and current clients will need to read about who you are, what you do, what’s new in your business and most importantly, why they should choose you as their product or service provider.
What they read will shape their response- now that is all pretty obvious really, but, it is surprising how companies are representing themselves online with out of date, ineffective or poor content.
Once a business has realised this and begins to identify that a content strategy needs to be put in place the first big decision must be, ‘can we afford to bring this in house, do we use an agency or an independent freelancer?’
Here are a few pointers to help you make that choice in a completely unbiased way…
Freelancers are self-employed, so you do not have the additional cost of work place pension contributions, sick pay, holiday pay, NI contributions or time off for the personal crisis days that may crop up every now and then. All you pay for is the time spent on your business.
Even if you simply commission a one-off piece of work, you may revisit the agreement with the same freelancer further down the line as they will have got to know your brand, but as with any new staff, do give them an ‘induction’. Helping you to sell your brand should be a collaborative process, any input you give the freelancer in the early days will be rewarded with higher quality output further down the line, less edits means more for your money.
No one knows your brand quite like you, but sometimes it helps to be on the outside looking in- treat your freelancer’s views as you would a potential new client. What in their opinion is great about your site? what doesn’t quite work? what does?
Often during the early stages of commission negotiation, a writer will have a quick look at your existing site (if you have one), often just to see what is currently there- that initial view really counts. You would be surprised, unless you are a fellow writer, at how many typos and examples of poor syntax jump out. If your writer spots them, do take up the offer of correcting them- it’s not being picky, it is a genuine desire to ensure your site looks professional and polished. This also demonstrates they know what they are doing.
It is a good idea to work out what the average revenue is from one new customer, then using your known metrics predict how many new (potential) clients and customers will see the new content- and how many existing ones will stay engaged. Based on this research you should be able to realistically predict how many new or unique business leads you will gain from this campaign…yes it will pay for itself in no time.
One of the real benefits of freelancing for me is that I don’t get bored with writing about the same product or service day in, day out. A lot of my commissions are writing technical content. For me, the becoming immersed in a new concept or product is revitalising. Deep research leads to new knowledge and understanding; in-house staff may overlook the often taken for granted aspects of your brand; they may assume everyone knows it so there is no point mentioning it…wrong! True, any brand needs to appeal to clients and customers that know what they want and need, but don’t forget those you are yet to meet- become the ‘go-to’ authority on all things to do with your field of work.
If you would like to find out more about the ways a freelance copywriter can help develop your web content, please do get in touch.
A safer way to build and protect your brand.
Mr Darcy once said, “My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever”. This sentiment is not just to be confined to fine literature, unfortunately, this still rings true in modern society; perhaps even more so with global communication technologies being vast and instant. A bad reputation or a slur on your good name can do untold damage to an individual – but what about the damage to your brand?
In recent months there have been some high profile social media faux pas, while these may provide a quick sensationalist flurry of excitement for the innocent bystander, such mistakes can make or break reputations, careers, marriages, business allegiances and ultimately your livelihood.
Phil Neville was recently appointed the England Women’s Football Team Head Coach. Unfortunately, his new post was quickly overshadowed by the re-emergence of some historic and cringe-worthy tweets joking about domestic violence and stereotypical inaccuracies regarding gender roles. As tweets from 2012 went viral within hours of his appointment, Neville deleted his private twitter account. It is hard to escape from such gems as; “Morning men couple of hours of cricket B4 work sets me up for the day” swiftly followed by, “when I said morning men I thought the women would of [sic] been busy preparing breakfast/ getting kids ready/ making the beds- sorry morning women”. As if this wasn’t distasteful enough, Neville was further embarrassed by two other tweets being revisited to cause a stir, “U women of [sic] always wanted equality until it comes to paying the bills #hypocrites” and, “Relax I’m back chilled- just battered the wife!!! Feel better now!” This was allegedly referring to a game of table tennis, but these tweets are the last thing to promote a feeling of trust and honour with their new coach among the finest women footballers in England.
Henry Bolton, the UKIP leader, was left in a sticky spot after his girlfriend, Jo Marney made a hideous messaging mistake when putting forward her views about Meghan Markle to a friend. Admittedly, these were disclosed by the ‘friend’ rather than via social media, but the point remains the same- if you don’t want anyone to be able to tweet about it, don’t write it down- some opinions are best not aired. I’m not promoting widespread censorship, but we all have a responsibility to not spread hatred and venom.
Here is a little compilation of some of my favourite social media ‘moments’ of the rich or famous.
Paris Hilton was arrested in Las Vegas in 2010 for possession of cocaine. The substance was discovered in a Chanel handbag that Hilton vehemently denied belonged to her, if only she had remembered that she tweeted a picture of herself holding the handbag that very morning, accompanied with the words, “Love my new Chanel purse I got today!” Yes Paris, you’re so busted.
2011 saw the hilariously named ‘Weinergate’. Anthony Weiner tweeted a picture of his, erm, ‘reproductive organ’ to all his twitter followers- he had intended to simply send it to a young woman in Seattle. Initially, Weiner tried to get himself out of trouble by saying his twitter account had been hacked but eventually admitted he had tweeted it in error- he had no choice but to resign.
Charlie Sheen once tweeted his personal phone number to his entire twitter following, he was obviously inundated with calls and had to change his phone number- he claims he only intended to send it to Justin Beiber, this is one example of where I wish I knew the back story.
2010- Mary J Blige excitedly tweeted that she was going to study at Harvard-pretty exciting stuff. Her bubble was burst when Harvard replied to her tweet by pointing out that she was only actually at the stage of having her application considered. This action caused a huge fan backlash against Harvard University, Blige hit back by tweeting, “Why is that people always try to understand estimate my intelligents? They should never do that!” No Mary, no they shouldn’t…
It is not just celebrities and high-profile executives that make mistakes on social media, even some of the top global brands have fallen foul of appropriate social media campaigns.
Dove (thankfully) put a premature end to one social media campaign that showed a black woman removing her brown top to transform into a white woman in a light-coloured top.The brand was condemned for the overtly racist overtones during this campaign and had to apologise for how very wrong they got this- The Nivea brand also got their fingers burned with a similar campaign on Facebook that stated, “white is purity”. How could Unilever and Beiersdorf Global AG get things so wrong, and how on earth did these campaigns even get off the drawing board in the first marketing meeting?
Wendy’s fast food chain tweeted a Pepe the frog meme- innocuous at first glance, until people remembered the character had been co opted by the White Supremacist movement in the 2016 election. Wendy’s responded by taking the tweet down almost immediately, however, as viewers of the tweet had had the foresight to take a screen shot, the unwise decision to post it is preserved for eternity.
So what is the moral of the story?
Most importantly, double check everything, no, triple check everything- ‘if in doubt, leave it out’ would be an appropriate mantra here.
Ensure your security is as robust as you can manage- opt for verifying your social media accounts, use 2 factor authentications, train employees to understand the impact of anything they may post and never use a post it note in the office with your log in details on- you never know just how hilarious your work colleagues may think they are.
Try to avoid politics- Unless you are an elected politician of course. Politics is a dangerous area, if you appear insensitive you will be condemned for it.
If you make a mistake, the best course is to just come clean and learn from it. Try to make amends and never get complacent about public forgiveness. People have long memories and retweets and screen shots have even longer ones.
To err is human; to forgive, divine.
(Alexander Pope. 1688–1744. An Essay on Criticism)
The best way to steer clear of the minefield of social media etiquette and expectations is to hire a professional to promote your brand on your behalf. By hiring a content curator and social media manager you can confidently put your trust in a professional who has the experience and industry awareness of the best way to handle your account.
If you think your company’s social media profiles could benefit from some expert advice and management, please do get in touch with us. Let us take you forward.