Whatever industry we’re in, we need to use words to get our point across in selling to consumers. It’s easy to forget who you’re writing for and why, which means a lot of copy out there deserves to be in the dog pound. Here are my top tips of bad copywriting habits to get out of right now.
You know the ones I’m talking about. God-awful buzzwords, or jargon… Hell, even just unnecessary adjectives. Avoid all of them. Whatever you’re writing, it’s for a reason, it’s not a story that the reader wants to read. So don’t fool yourself that you’re actually a storyteller. Respect your reader’s time, they’re surrounded with content, so you need to make yours worth reading. Get to the point, and get there quickly and clearly. Cut the fat, and you’ll find you can still be interesting without using all that flowery, useless language.
Don’t even think about trotting out those same old tired clichés. Use your imagination and give your readers something new. Though saying that, there’s nothing wrong with throwing in the odd pun – as long as it fits with your brand image. But get creative. No one remembers the phrases they’ve heard countless times before; surprise your readers. And if you are going to get involved with clichés, at least put your own unexpected twist on them.
Disjointed tone of voice
The chances are you’ll have a number of different people writing for your brand, often across different platforms. No two people write in the exact same way, but strong tone of voice guidelines can tie them together to create a consistency that gives all copy the same voice. Brand consistency builds trust amongst consumers. If one day your brand is talking about important financial decisions, and the next day cracking out tasteless jokes, your audience won’t feel they know you are or that they can trust you and will end up leaving. Once they’re gone, it will be incredibly tricky getting them back.
Features over benefits
You’ve got a fancy new product, so of course you want to shout about all the new features it has. But does your audience actually care about the ins-and-outs of the technology that makes it work? Probably not. They care about how your product will benefit them. That’s it. Remember, your audience is doing you a favour by reading your copy, so the least you can do is make it about them – don’t be that bore who only talks about themselves. Make the reader and their needs the focus of the copy, rather than the brand.
Forgetting the Oxford comma
My number one copywriting gripe is not using the Oxford comma. Now I know this can be a bit of a personal preference, but there are plenty of times when the good ol’ Oxford comma can have a real impact on the meaning of a sentence. So why not just get into the habit of using it? Buzzfeed explained it best here, so check it out, and make the Oxford comma your new best friend! http://www.buzzfeed.com/adamdavis/the-oxford-comma-is-extremely-important-and-everyone-should#.rikVGVqZo