Saturday, 16 March 2019

5 Simple rules for writing in plain English

What is plain English?

Plain English is a way of writing that is clear, easy to read and unambiguous. 

Some might say it caters to the lowest common denominator, but that isn't strictly true.

Simple language doesn't have to be basic. 

You can find out more about the differences between simple and basic language here.

What are the advantages of using plain English?

Plain English makes your writing accessible to a wider audience. This can open up new markets for your products and services that you may not have considered before.

It's also quicker to read and you're more likely to get your message across on the first read.

What are the rules for writing in plain English?

There are a number of ways to use plain English in your written communications.

Here are five of the simplest rules to follow.

1. Keep your sentences short.
Experts recommend a maximum of 20 words per sentence. You should vary the length of each sentence to keep your reader interested.

2. Use active voice rather than passive voice.
Active voice sounds animated and involved. Passive voice sounds detached and stuffy.
For example:
Active voice: You will choose the colour and style.
Passive voice: The colour and style will be chosen by you.

Another example:
Active voice: You can find all the information on our website.
Passive voice: The information can be found on our website.

3. Talk about 'you' and 'we'.
I've talked about the power of you before. 

Using 'you' and 'we' sounds more friendly and makes it easy for the reader to know who you're talking to/about.

4. Use the right words for your reader.
Plain English is about using words your reader is familiar with and will understand. This usually means avoiding unnecessary jargon and unexplained acronyms.

5. Give direct instructions.
If you want your reader to do something, be clear and say it directly.

For example:
Direct: Shop now
Indirect:Visit our online shop

Do you need some help?

I am a plain English copywriter and get my kicks from converting complex propositions and ideas into clear, simple language that informs, explains and sells.

If you would like to widen your market, or improve the simplicity of your communications and would like some help, why not get in touch?

You can find out more about me and what I can do for you by visiting my website.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Five ways to write with strength, confidence and conviction

“Words have power.”

Well, they do if you know how to use them properly.

But many businesses lack confidence when it comes to their writing.

If you want your content to sound more convincing and informative, here are five tips that will help you achieve that.

1. Do your research

Writing strong, confident copy is much easier when you work from a place of knowledge and understanding.

Read widely and learn as much as you can about your chosen subject before you start.

Demonstrate your knowledge and authority by:

  • Citing credible research from quality sources
  • Using specific numbers and percentages
  • Writing with care and accuracy
2. Draw sensible conclusions

Use the knowledge and information you have gathered wisely.

Take care to interpret the results correctly and draw sensible conclusions.

Adding your voice and experience to your argument will make your content fresher and more unique. But make a point of saying when you're speaking from experience and avoid presenting your opinions as facts.

3. Use social proof

Social proof is the testimony of people who have used a product or service and can give objective — and, hopefully, good — feedback on the results they had.

The influence of social proof can be instrumental in driving purchasing decisions.

Make sure you’re getting positive reviews and testimonials from your customers and make sure you’re using them at every relevant opportunity.

4. Avoid weak words

Avoid weak words like cancould and should wherever you can.

Substitute these for stronger and more positive words like will and shall.

Even better, use have or do if you have proof that something has worked.

5. Be precise and specific

I wrote a whole article on precise and specific communications last year.

If you missed it, you can read it here.

Need some help?

If you don’t have the time, inclination or skills to write your own content and you would like some help, that’s what I’m here for.

I’m an experienced copywriter with more than 18 years’ professional writing experience. 

I have written for all kinds of businesses on all kinds of subjects.

If you would like to find out more about how I could help your business, you can visit my website here.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

How to use positioning to differentiate your business

Last week I wrote a blog about harnessing the power of your why as a key differentiator for your business. If you missed it, you can read it here.

Of course, your why is only part of what makes your business different from all those others out there. 

This week I'm going to talk a little bit about positioning and how you can position your business to achieve greater success.

Who are your main competitors?

It’s a reasonable question, yet when I ask some of my copywriting clients they have no idea what the answer is.

So how do you find your competitors?

Most businesses have three main layers of competition. Here are three ways to find your competitors at each of the three levels:
  • Enter your simplest business description into Google.For example, I would type copywriter Leicester.
    This is the simplest term people are going to use to find my business. The copywriters I find might be similar to me, but they may not be my closest competitors. To find those, I have to dig a little deeper.
  • Enter your main services into Google.In this instance, I could type Website copywriter Leicester, Creative copywriter Leicester and Copy editor Leicester.
    This should bring up a list of copywriters offering the same services as me. These are closer competition.
  • Enter your main USP into Google.For this one I might look at my specific niche. I could try SEO content writer Leicester and Health and Safety copywriter Leicester.
    If these are true USPs you should find less competition here.

Who are your ideal customers?

There are two main things to consider when determining your ideal customer. 

1. Demographics
  • What is their age range?
  • What is their gender?
  • Where are they based geographically?
  • What is their level of education?
  • What is their occupation?
  • What is their marital/family situation?
  • What is their income?
2. Motivations
  • What needs do they have?
  • What problems are they looking to solve?
  • What benefits are they looking for?
  • What is most important to them?
  • What factors will influence their purchasing decision?
  • When are they most likely to buy your product/service?
How do you fit in?

Once you have determined your competition and ideal customer, you can start to figure out how your business fits in and, more importantly, how you can make it stand out.

Look at your competitors
  • What are they offering?
  • How are they selling their proposition?
  • How are they talking to their customers?
  • Who are they selling to?
  • What can you identify as their main strengths and weaknesses?

Look at your customers
  • Where are you looking for them?
  • How will they find you?
  • What reason do they have to choose you over your competitors?
Look at your own business
  • In what ways are you the same as your competitors?
  • How are you different to/better than your competitors?
  • What wants/needs do your customers have that your competitors are not addressing/satisfying?
  • What other skills/resources could you bring in to the mix?

What to do next?

These exercises should help you to identify where the gaps are and how you can refine or adapt your proposition to fill them.

If you need some help to decide how best to use the information, I can help.

I am a copywriter with more than eight years’ experience in positioning brands to achieve optimum success.

If you would like to find out more, why not give me a call on: 07815 652 031.