This post is by guest blogger, Charles Born:
I could subtitle this “How to Lose at Buzzword Bingo and Increase Sales” but this is not where I whine further about buzzwords and jargon. I did that in previous blogs (Buzzword Bingo and Avoiding the Buzzword Bingo Trap). All kidding aside, there is a time for professional jargon: when you know you’re speaking to an audience that understands you, and you need the extra specificity and precision that jargon can sometimes provide. If you’re using it outside of that then you’re probably not communicating clearly, honestly, or effectively.
In the web and social marketing world, online “conversations” are the perfect opportunity to meet buyers’ information needs with smartly targeted and informative content that buyers consider valuable. Unfortunately, Web copy is often written in less than ideal circumstances by product marketers who do not have the time to do it right.
The good news is that anyone who writes content can ensure that every chunk of text on the web is doing something concrete and useful. Good marketing copy accomplishes specific goals; just touting a product is not one of them.
Let’s look at an example. Here is a chunk of text displayed prominently on one company’s website:
With Product X advanced features, capturing and reporting product sales data in the cloud and in real-time can improve operational intelligence and provide insight that enables more effective strategic, tactical and effective decision-making. With Product X researching your online sales is FASTER!
What do we know about this product from the two statements? Intelligence and insight will be improved by capturing and reporting! And that will enable, among many other things, better tactical decision-making! And we end with a tag line – in CAPITAL letters no less–with an exclamation point, indeed! Here we have a simple example of what happens when the goal of the writing is to fill up a web page with copy.
How do you approach writing product copy and potentially winning buyer attention and sales interest?
Just KIS – Keep It Simple (not stupid)
Most product content needs to answer 4 basic questions:
- Who is the product for?
- What is the product?
- What does the product do for its target user?
- Why is the product better than the available alternatives?
The lack of answers to these really basic questions is what frustrates buyers in their journey and wastes marketing money on writing babble. To do it right, let’s look at the questions in more detail.
Who is the product for? Think of your target audience. Can they tell from this copy that you are speaking to them? Can other people outside your audience tell that you are NOT speaking to them?
What is the product? Try to write in conversational tone using short and simple sentences. Make sure you have spelled out, clearly and in simple language, what the product is and that the nouns as concrete as you can make them.
What does the product do for its target user? Be specific in laying out the product’s primary features and benefits in a clear, concrete way.
Why is this product better than the available alternatives? Here is where flowery prose needs to be edited. If you make a claim, give evidence for the claims clearly and without empty language that makes you look like boasting.
Answer these questions, and you’ll communicate more clearly and efficiently than the horde of companies who’ve filled their web product pages with the content equivalent of cotton candy.
Please share your tips and suggestions to making content work.