The Copywriterâ€™s Crucible Puts ClichÃ©d Copywriting on Trial
Sooo, the new website is up and running, after a few minor technical hitches.
On the home page youâ€™ll see Iâ€™ve followed through with the idea/threat of switching to promoting myself as an agency. Along with the elevated sense of self importance, Iâ€™m hoping it will push me up higher into the big leagues as a serious outfit, one thatâ€™s ready to take on all the business worldâ€™s copywriting projects, both big and small.
But with transparency and being honest with clients high on the agenda, Iâ€™ve made it clear that itâ€™s still me behind the curtain pulling the levers. Otherwise, Iâ€™ll be on thin ice when clients start wondering why itâ€™s only me that ever picks up the phone.
My USP â€“ ClichÃ© free B2B copywriting
Googleâ€™s search results are a crowded place.
So to try and stand out I thought Iâ€™d give myself the USP of offering corporate BS free copywriting. You wonâ€™t find any â€˜bleeding edgesâ€™ or â€˜best of breedsâ€™ being poured out from this melting pot.
But Iâ€™m starting to have second thoughts.
Am I at risk of scaring off the entire B2B crowd with my high mindedness? Are endless superlatives and grandiose claims how they expect copywriting to sound?
If so, will they pay my invoice?
So to help me decide, I thought Iâ€™d put clichÃ©d copywriting on trial.
First up, the defence for the â€˜blue sky thinkingâ€™ style of copywriting thatâ€™s sat (looking rather smug in a pinstriped suit, might I add) in the dockâ€¦
The Defence – ClichÃ©s build rapport and familiarity
Buzzwords might make us copywriters wince. But customers are different. They donâ€™t spend all day reading through marketing material like we do.
Words and phrases that sound like clichÃ©s to us are common expressions that help people get your point. They immediately know what you mean.
After all, isnâ€™t it our job to communicate as clearly and concisely as possible? Creative wordplay should be left for novelists. Otherwise, for the sake of sounding unique and clever, you risk writing long winded phrases that are inaccessible to readers.
And terms like â€˜synergyâ€™ and â€˜one stop shopâ€™ sound professional. Itâ€™s the way business people talk. If youâ€™re a serious company with a serious product, you donâ€™t want to sound like someone flogging watches in a bar or how youâ€™d chat to a neighbour over the fence.
Keep your â€˜conversationalâ€™ copy for those that want to hear it â€“ teenagers and bloggers.
Well, after that ballsy defence, clichÃ©d copywriting is looking more pleased with itself than ever, even giving the court typist a sly wink.
Will the prosecution be able to knock it off its perch? Letâ€™s find outâ€¦
The Prosecution – ClichÃ©s are lazy, meaningless and send customers to sleep
When you read copywriting packed with clichÃ©s it can sound as though the copywriter has been writing on autopilot – hammering out one hackneyed superlative after another, with one eye on Game of Thrones.
ClichÃ©s are so overused that theyâ€™ve become vacuous phrases without any real meaning.
Everybody is so far outside the box we donâ€™t even know what the box is anymore. And can anybody remember a world where everything wasnâ€™t already â€˜turnkeyâ€™ and â€˜off the shelfâ€™? Supposedly, we all had to assemble everything ourselves, like an Airfix model without any glue.
But it doesnâ€™t have to be this way. Itâ€™s not as though thereâ€™s a shortage of words to choose from for expressing an idea or concept.
And customers donâ€™t want to listen to a business droning on about how itâ€™s the fastest/cheapest/market leading/ etc. They want real information they can use.
Focus on what the customer wants
Copywrting should be focused on them â€“ on their problems, hopes and desires. It should show empathy for their predicament, and explain how your product can solve it in real tangible benefits. Not with sugar coated features.
And beneath the power suit and reassuringly thick business cards, a B2B customer is still a living, breathing human being. Youâ€™re not writing to a fax machine.
Writing thatâ€™s more conversational, and mirrors how people talk, comes across as more trustworthy. And as any salesman will tell you, trust is invaluable when trying to sell something.
So rather than use lazy, meaningless clichÃ©s, copywriting should be fresh, tight and brimming with personality. It should arouse a customerâ€™s curiosity, keep them reading until the last full stop and then send them rushing to place an order.
Copywriting wonâ€™t achieve this if itâ€™s reeling off the same old tired sales patter customers have read a million times before.
The verdict â€“ Guilty!
And with that, as the writer and self appointed judge, Iâ€™ve decided that clichÃ©d copywriting needs to be locked away – permanently.
Not looking so smug now, are you?
But I fear clichÃ©d copywriting will only serve a minimal sentence. Iâ€™ll be forced to release it soon. Itâ€™s far too entrenched in the B2B worldâ€™s vernacular to be removed from polluting the marketing world forever.
After all, Iâ€™ve got bills to pay and clients to keep happy. But at least Iâ€™ve made a small stand for fresh, clichÃ© free copywriters everywhere.
Now, time to rewrite my home pageâ€¦