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How a good writer can help you avoid these 3 copywriting blind spots

If you work in a company, you likely have some marketing blind spots − even with a talented marketing team! Most companies have biases or face internal politics that can interfere with customer communication.

Here are three of the most common blind spots that I come across when helping companies with their brand positioning and marketing writing.

Do any of these blind spots sound familiar?

If yes, the upside is that a good marketing writer can help.

Blind spot #1: You have an executive who is fond of his or her own writing style.

Business man working on a laptopAh, yes.

You have an executive who is a frustrated creative.

You know the type: the operations guy or the numbers gal who loves to make a mark on your company’s messaging.

The one who sees himself as a gifted writer.

The wordsmith who pays your salary.

Yep, that one.

While these types of executives are well intentioned, they can make a real mess of things. They have the potential to be:

  • Verbose. It’s amazing how quickly good copy can double or triple in length.
  • Esoteric. They often prefer a sophisticated writing style that means a great deal to them… but very little to your customer.
  • Out of sync with your audience. I’m surprised by how often marketers have to write to a particular executive’s taste; yet, that executive doesn’t even reflect the target audience!
  • Off brand. They may be 100% behind your brand strategy… but their personal viewpoints come across through their words.

How a good marketing writer can help

If you are partnering with a writer who has consulting experience, your writer can help in several ways.

  1. She can be the bad guy, asking tough questions or coaching your executive in ways that you can’t.
  2. Your writer can back you up in the counsel that you’ve been giving to your executive for years.

There is a strange phenomenon that occurs when you bring in an outside consultant.

People listen.

Sometimes, it’s as though they’re hearing things for the very first time.

Yes, this is maddening given that you’ve likely been saying the same thing for, oh say, years. Nonetheless, I say, use your writer to your advantage. As your ally. As your mini-me. As your united front.

That way, you can get back to giving your energy to the initiatives where it’s really needed. 

Blind spot #2: You tend to explore synergistic relationships among word solutions. (Translation: You write in “corporate speak.”)

Corporate speakA lot of companies I partner with are fond of certain ways of saying things.

I call it corporate speak.

You may recognize corporate speak as long, wordy sentences that sound important, but as Marketing Guru Seth Godin says, they don’t really say a whole heck of a lot.

These sentences tend to be very company-centric:

“Our practice breadth, geographical reach and industry knowledge provide us with deep insights across the spectrum of the critical business and legal issues that our clients face globally and locally.”

Huh?

How a good marketing writer can help

You may have marketing messages that make perfect sense to your team because you’ve used them for a while or you’re using internal language that is familiar to you.

A good marketing writer can look at your content from a fresh perspective.

As a neutral third party, she can ask outrageous or obvious questions that may get you to think differently about what you’ve been saying.

She can be the one who says, “We’re not selling to you. We’re selling to this audience over here.”

And, assuming your core message is sound, your marketing writer can take your content out of your words and put it into words that resonate with your customers.

Blind spot #3: Using internal language in your website copy and keyword phrases.

Yes, you want your website content to win the hearts and minds of your customers, so they can’t help but sign up for your offer. Give you their full attention. Buy your product. Like you on Facebook. Sing your praises to their friends.

But you also want your content to appeal to robots – as in, the search engines.

The higher your website can rank in search engine results, the better off your company will be.

Trouble is, you’re using your internal language on your website. And that means you may be using the wrong keyword phrases in your title tags and website copy.

Jargon warning signI often hear, “This is how we talk in our culture, so this is what we want to say on our website.”

Unfortunately, the words you’re using in your website copy don’t mean anything to your customers. You aren’t offering them any value.

Consider an example

Let’s say you describe your services as “total solutions.”

That’s great… except that no one may be searching for that phrase or expressing an interest in that topic (so much for appealing to the search engines) and your website visitors don’t know what the phrase means (so much for engaging potential customers).

How a good marketing writer can help

A good marketing writer should be able to facilitate discussion among your team. The goal? To help you identify keyword phrases that you like as a company, as well as alternative phrases that your customers may use.

She also should be able to conduct basic keyword research, so you can make copywriting decisions based on actual data.

More importantly, though, a good copywriter should be able to help you bridge the gap between your terminology and how your customers think about things.

Several years ago, I wrote website content for a wedding photography business. The owner had a very ethereal way of speaking – not to mention, her own distinct terminology. I was able to find a way to work her terminology in (such as her phrase, “collections”) without losing the phrases that made more sense to her prospective clients (“photo packages”).

“Our wedding photo packages – or ‘collections,’ as we refer to them – include …”

Parting thoughts

If you look at the big and mighty brands – Coca-Cola, Southwest Airlines, Chipotle, to name a few – they usually use a combination of in-house marketing teams and outside creative partners.

Whether you’re teaming up with a copywriter, a marketing consultant, or an agency, collaborating with an outside expert is about giving your business more brainpower… without the internal bias.

Until next time!