Some unconventional copywriting techniques for Christmas…
Because it’s Christmas, I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions and conventions. I love Christmas traditions. I love that link to the past; and that sense of doing things the same way this family or this company has always done them.
Traditions can help us see why certain ideas have endured while others have fallen by the wayside. But traditions can hold us back as well as push us forwards. It’s easy to get trapped into doing things just because that’s what we’ve always done, never mind whether it still makes sense or not.
That’s an issue that copywriters face on a daily basis. So much of what we do – or, at least, what we’re asked to do – is based on maintaining the status quo.
So, at this very traditional time of year, let’s look at some of the ways copywriters can use some unconventional copywriting techniques to change our clients’ marketing for the better…
Unconventional copywriting for websites
Even though they’re still a relatively new marketing tool – most website commissions come with a host of hard and fast rules and conventions. And that’s why so many commercial websites are so similar.
We’re all locked into thinking that business websites should combine the same elements; the same pages. But tradition shouldn’t dictate how you structure your website. The needs of your customers should.
When you’re planning a new site, or revising an existing site, leave the web design template till later. Think about what sort of content you need first. That way you won’t restrict your creativity.
Abandon pages you don’t need
Who says you have to have an About Us page? Who says you have to have a FAQs page? Use them if they’re useful. Otherwise, don’t.
Do it your way
Never be too concerned about what your competitors are doing. Your peers’ websites won’t inspire you, they’ll trap you into doing things the same way.
Instead, let your customers guide you:
- Make it a genuinely useful resource with an informative blog, downloads and free information
- Make it easy to use – with clearly defined pages and a site map that’s easy to follow
- Make it easy to read with clearly titled sections, bullet points and subheadings
Style over substance?
Design is another big issue. But strangely, bad design can be much less of a problem than good design…
Refreshing the look and feel of your website is a great way of revitalising your ‘shop window’. But that goes for content too.
The sheen of a slick, imaginatively designed new website can blind us to a lack of new content. But let’s face it, putting last year’s presents in this year’s stocking isn’t going to fool anyone.
So here’s a tradition worth adopting. Refresh your website content at least as often as you refresh the design.
Unconventional copywriting techniques for websites
Here’re a few extra unconventional copywriting tips for you:
- Wherever and whenever possible, make your site sounds human, not corporate
- Don’t be afraid to use contractions (isn’t, aren’t etc)
- Get colloquial if it’s appropriate for your audience
- Use client testimonials to answer your FAQs or talk about your company
- Use a different copywriting approach for different audience sectors on the same site
Traditional versus non-traditional case studies
I’ve written a lot about case studies lately. I love them. They’re a great resource for any company looking to tell others about what they do in an objective way. And they’re a great way to practise your unconventional copywriting techniques.
And if there’s one single unconventional copywriting tip for case studies, it’s this:
- Just make sure you make every case study different.
Sounds simple? It really is.
Every client is different, right? And every client requirement is, at least, a bit different, yes? So every case study should reflect that.
If you use a template so that all your case studies look and sound the same, scrap it. Think about each case study as a new piece of work. Work on making each case study sound or feel like it really relates to that customer.
More unconventional copywriting hints and tips
Here are some more unconventional copywriting hints and tips to help you take a new approach:
- We get trapped into writing and saying the same things because we write and say them in the same way. So change the way you work. Write with pen and paper. Dictate your ideas and write them later for a more stream-of-consciousness style.
- Changing where you work can make a big difference too. Sitting in the same chair in the same office day after day can foster stagnation. So shake things up a bit. You can take a tip or two from the likes of Innocent and Ticketmaster: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25355618 Or you can just relocate to your favourite coffee shop!
- Instead of trying to make it overly formal, try writing it like you say it. Write up some questions – get a friend to interview you if it helps – and give those true-to-life, off-the-cuff answers. Then polish and publish.
- Only ever refer to your competitors’ websites if you’re going to do things differently to them. So when they say one thing, you say another. Obviously, you can’t be contrary for the sake of it, but it’s interesting how often you reveal the truth about your company by disagreeing with the way the others do things.
Start incorporating some unconventional copywriting techniques into your routine and give your readers something more compelling; more distinctive…