Is your marketing copy a turn off?

Which businesses get noticed amongst the noise of the web, social media and direct mail?

It’s often companies who speak directly to their target market. They nail the tone, fascinate their audience and build rapport. Sounds obvious? Yet many businesses kill any chance of connecting with prospects because their marketing is a turn off.

Here’s my take on five of the biggest as well as a bonus one for you.

In addition I’ll reveal some suggestions to stoke your customer’s interest and stop them turning up their nose.

Turn off one:  Copy is littered with complicated, formal language

Complicated language is not a route to appear professional. In contrast it will create a void between you and your customer.

Readers must be able to skip through your copy easily. They just won’t give your advertising the same attention they give a gossip magazine or a can’t put it down book.

So instead make your advertising easy to read and above all conversational.

And this totally makes sense if you remember advertising is simply  “salesmanship in print”.

So here are some easy to implement techniques to rid your advertising of its pomp and make it easier to digest.

    1. Write as you speak and use contractions like don’t, isn’t and you’re.
    2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
    3. Don’t over complicate it. Simple words, punchy sentences and short paragraphs work best.
    4. Cut anything and everything that doesn’t add value to your reader and your message.
    5. Oh, and forget what your teacher told you. When copywriting it’s OK to start a sentence with and.

Turn off two:  Copy is all about we, we, we!

Copy that writes from the business perspective rather than the customer is a big turn off.

You know the kind of thing “we are really proud to be introducing this new product which we think will be really popular etc”.

Excessive use of we and I is a mistake. Customers are just not interested in what you think. All they want to know is what’s in it for me?

So instead shift the emphasis and add copious amounts of the most powerful word in advertising – YOU (and its derivatives like yours and yourself).

Turn off three:  Copy makes unrealistic claims

Never fool your customers and try to convince them your product or service is something it isn’t. If you make claims that seem too good to be true, cynicism emerges and customers tune out.

Instead tune your copy to build credibility. Even better focus on making a customer rather than a sale.

Do this by making it easy for people to buy from you. Do what you can to fill them with confidence. A good technique is to incorporate testimonials and let satisfied customers sell on your behalf. New prospects are likely to value feedback from real users far more than they will your own claims.

Turn off four:  Copy is difficult to read

Potential customers are busy, easily distracted and bore quickly. After all there’s so much out there competing for our attention. They just don’t have time to read advertising that’s difficult or confusing.

And that means you must carve a delicate balance. You’ve got to make it as easy as possible for a busy reader to grab the gist of your message without being too demanding on their attention.

So use signposts. Subheads are great for that. Emphasis key points with bold, italics and underlines. Use different colours, different fonts, different font sizes.

Use anything to make key points leap out.

In addition use short snappy sentences. Cut to the point. Avoid waffle and forget jargon.

Write to be understood. Don’t write to impress. It never works.

Turn off five:  Copy focuses on features

Features are the technical specifications and specific detail that describe your product. Whilst useful they don’t capture the fascination and interest of your customer like benefits.

Benefits tell customers how your business will positively impact their life and are infinitely more powerful at hooking interest. The sorts of things that work well include:

Examples of how your product will:

  1. Help your customer save time.
  2. Make them more money.
  3. Make them more attractive.
  4. Make them wiser etc.

If your product or service addresses a key human driver such as the ones above, highlight it.

Bonus turn off: Copy has an uninspiring headline

A good copywriter will spend longer writing the headline than anything else.

After all the aim of each sentence is to get the next one read. Great copy carefully places each word to effortlessly pull your customer along a pre-determined journey toward your call to action. And that all starts with your headline.

If your headline fails to hook, the rest of your words are wasted. They won’t get read.

So take the time to make your headline not just great but neck snapping and eye hijacking. There are lots of tips out there. Here’s just a few to get you thinking:

  1. Focus on your main benefit.
  2. Use a list.
  3. Stoke your reader’s curiosity or imagination.
Even better explore and see what works best for your readers.
So there you have it, five ways your advertising copy can turn your customers off and some simple remedies to tempt them back.
And now it’s your turn. Have your vent. What’s your biggest turn off when it comes to reading marketing copy? How do you draw customers to your business? Get it off your chest and leave a comment.

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  1. says

    Hi Georgina,

    Many thanks for a very interesting article, full of useful tips! I am in the process of putting together our sales brochure so the ideas will come in very handy. I especially like the suggestion of including testimonials in the brochure.

  2. says

    Interesting and useful article. I am definitely a waffler and need to cut down words! I use email for newsletters/special offers and I guess my headline will be even more important as it will be the decider for whether the reader will open or trash my email!

    • says

      Hi Dawn, thanks for your comment. You’re right that your subject headline is a big factor in deciding whether your email gets opened. However another factor is how well people know you. That means if you’ve built up a good relationship with the people you write to, that can also influence if your words get read.

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