Category Archives: Rules of Writing

Writing rules

Why Hire a Professional Copywriter?

 

Thank you, Lisa Twining Taylor(Dancing Goat Web Design), for uploading my recent Rotary Speech (1-6-2015) to this website and to YouTube for me. Thank you, William Lee (Keeba and Lee Sales) for videotaping the presentation for me. It turned out great.

Clocking in at just under 17 minutes, the presentation  explains the added value of a hiring a professional copywriter. I was amazed to hear from people after the presentation that they had no idea of the additional insights and help that a professional writer can provide to help business owners and entrepreneurs take their outreach to the next level.

If you know of anyone else who might benefit from knowing this information, feel free to point them to this website or to my YouTube channel (WordWhisperer.NET). They will thank you for it… as I do!

P.S. My apologies that the video ends so abruptly, even though the presentation itself didn’t. There was an unwelcome interruption from an uninvited interloper (not a Rotary member, a Rotary member’s friend, or a friend of mine) at the point where Bill stopped videotaping. The videotaping wasn’t resumed after it occurred.

But you aren’t missing much.  Most of the things I covered occurred before the interruption happened. There were only a few additional follow-up questions. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what they were or I would list and answer them here for you.

 

I Have Ten Minutes for This Post…

I need to leave for church in less than ten minutes (I’m the nursery supervisor there) and I’m wondering if I can post a new blog in such a short period of time. Sure!  I love a challenge!

Now I just have to decide what to share in the next ten minutes… Oh, wow. It’s always good to have a topic in mind before starting, right?

Not always!

Sometimes it’s good to just start typing and see what the activity dredges up for you. Our minds can be “keyed” to produce, so writer’s block has never been a problem for me. I just start typing and at some point an idea rises to the surface and away I go, already well warmed up for the fun that is sure to follow!

See how I just came up with a topic while typing? The topic: how typing helps you come up with a topic. See how that works?

Try it. You’ll like it!

Writers gotta write. Dancers gotta dance. Singers gotta sing. Air breathers gotta have air. It doesn’t always have to be top-quality writing, dancing, singing, breathing, either: the more you do it at whatever point you’re at, the better you get at it.

So if you want to write, write. If you want to dance, dance. Like nobody’s watching. It’ll free you to improve. It’ll free you, period.

Be who you are, who you want to be; the rest will follow. The people who will matter most in your life will love you best when you’re being uniquely, wonderfully YOU!!!

On your mark, get set, GO!

Are Writers Being “Dumbed Down” By Crappy Sales Letters?

I just read a sales piece that would gag a maggot. A self-proclaimed “expert” on a LinkedIn forum can’t fashion a grammatically-correct sentence to save his soul, let alone a half-assed sales letter.

Here’s the link, if you want a big laugh and a lesson on how NOT to write a sales letter:

https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140627004708-142211738-the-number-1-mistake-the-most-authors-are-making-and-they-do-not-even-know-about-it?trk=prof-post

The comments from the few folks who read (or started to read) the piece speak well enough for most of the writers on the LinkedIn forum, but it looks like a couple of them fell for it. (That, or they’re shills for the originator of the piece.)

If you click on the link and go there, you can add your comments to the feedback.  I think if enough of us do this we will send the gentleman screaming for the exits, never to be heard from again–which would be a good thing, in my humble opinion.

For an example of a sales letter that sucks worse than almost anything I have ever seen before, check it out!

 

 

Copywriting Wisdom for Business Owners

Here’s a video I produced today, an “infomercial” of sorts about why choosing a professional copywriter is so crucial. It’s just a little over three minutes long and worth your time. Please watch, share, LIKE, enjoy and comment when you get to the YouTube page it’s on. Thanks!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz1h_XoQARc

This blog is almost completely about great copywriting. It’s a blog for newbie copywriters and for business owners and entrepreneurs who want to try writing your own copy. I just caution DIY’ers because educators in grade-, middle-, high school and college teach their students to write English pleasantly and properly–not powerfully. (They aren’t writers for the most part. They know all of the mechanics but none of the magic.)

So just because you got A’s or B’s in English composition in school –or because you know someone else who did who’s willing to write your copy–doesn’t mean that it will convert browsers into buyers.

Buyers aren’t looking for pleasant prose–and that’s not what you’re selling.  If your target audience can’t hear the sizzle and smell the steak when they read what’s on your page, they will go somewhere else where they can. Now that we have the Internet and social media, it’s easy to shop around.

So…what stands between you and your customers? If it’s anemic copy that isn’t converting, there’s a solution: make sure the person you hire to do your copywriting knows what the heck they’re doing!

You don’t want to spend your working life chasing leads. With good copywriting at your beck and call, you won’t have to do as much of that; your customers will discover and come to you!

I bet you could use a little work-life balance, if you’re like most small business owners and entrepreneurs I know. That’s what great copywriting can buy you– more freedom to do the things you love to do with your loved ones. Remember those days?  Recapture them. Get someone on your team who knows the copywriting business inside and out and you should do better, faster.

PR Must Develop & Deliver Relationships

Back in the day, PR simply wasn’t necessary.

Not all that long ago (most Baby Boomers can remember the times) it was easier–much easier–to sell stuff. As mentioned several times already, before the advent of mass media outreach and interstate commerce, an egg was an egg was an egg: local, farm fresh, free-range and delicious. There was nothing to recommend one farmer’s hens over another’s, unless the hens were scrawny and sickly-looking or the farmer treated them (or you) badly. Sales back then (ever since sales began and until recently) were based on relationships within a community.

As radio and TV came along, and as commerce could be exchanged farther from home or homestead, ad people came up with ways to differentiate products and services, to “brand” them so people knew they were still trading with  companies they felt they would like and trust if they knew them intimately.

Today, with global commerce and scores of social media platforms in addition to TV and radio, all bets are off. But the more things change, the more they stay the same when it comes to PR. The ONLY way you’ll ever be able to stand out in any crowd is to develop relationships with  your target audience. They can buy what you’re offering almost anywhere these days, and it’s fast and easy to look around for the best price and quality.

  • If your USP is “low price/good enough,” you’ll be racing to the bottom with a gazillion other sellers of similar goods and services
  • If you’re competing on quality, you’re in rarer atmosphere with slimmer pickings because there are fewer truly savvy shoppers who are looking for stuff that will last, products and services whose ROI will make them smile to realize that they’ve invested in quality outcomes that will serve them commendably for long periods of time

No matter who your target audience is, you need to know where they hang out online and off, and you need to start (if you aren’t already) hanging out with them, not as an opportunistic seller but as a helpful, giving, pro-active sounding board and fellow human being.  You need to develop relationships so you’re not pegged as a tireless, unwelcome predator.  Although people love to buy (when they’re good and ready) most of us loathe being sold to–especially inappropriately within social media places where people gather to be entertained, to learn stuff, and to have a good time!  Interact with your target audiences “inappropriately” in the various forums–as a ham-handed promoter of Thine Own Goods and Services–and you’ll have your head in your hands faster than you can figure out what the hell happened.

What people learn about you and how they feel about you matters.  Unless you’re a conglomerate with monopoly powers/zero competition,  how you treat your potential customers matters.  What you offer and share (freely) will determine whether they’ll want to have anything to do with you in the short term and over the long haul.  That’s easy enough to understand. After all, PR stands for “Public Relations” not “Push Relentlessly”!

What’s harder to understand is that every social media platform is different. The people who frequent these sites have established a “culture” for them; business owners (and the clueless copywriters they hire) violate them at their own great risk.

A good book that explains the different cultures is Gary Vayverchuk’s Jab Jab Jab Right Hook. If you’re using social media in any way, or about to enter it as a business presence, READ IT

(This week. Not next!)

Yesterday’s UCN Presentation is Posted Now…

On the right-hand side of this blog you’ll find a video of yesterday’s UCN presentation: Copywriting Tips. Before the camera work began, I started the presentation by saying that most English teachers are technicians, as opposed to being professional writers, artists or creatives. The first words you hear on the video follow that thought. I’m explaining how I discovered this fact while in junior high school…

 

Target Audience Data

After you’ve established your target audience, created your 10-second intro and 30-second elevator speech and hired the perfect web designer to create your site, it’s time to start booking “dates”.

As with any quality date, it isn’t enough to know who you want to date and what they think and feel about things. You also have to figure out what to say and how to look to get your foot in the door.

You also need to know what’s in the potential relationship to attract, engage and keep  the other person interested. Those who don’t do this come across as entirely self-serving. Ham-handed paramours know what they want, but they rarely know (or care) what the object of their desire needs.

So, it appears, do some business owners and entrepreneurs whose sites I’ve seen on the  Web.

Insightful data about your “date” (target audience”) is the fuel you’ll need to drive to where your date is, but it can look like stalking if you appear to know everything about them without taking the time to identify who they are, down deep: what they’re thinking, feeling and truly needing.

So … how do you get from a first date to engaged, or from engaged to walking down the aisle and pledging eternal loyalty to each other (on line and off) as a business owner or entrepreneur?

You serve. You prove your mettle. During hard times, you don’t bail. During great times, you join in celebrations. You become a soft place to fall, a safe place to fail, and a serious commitment junkie.

But how do you do all of this? With words! Even when proving your mettle, holding a hand, celebrating a joy, you use words. Honest, reliable, supportive, heart-lifting words.

So … do you still think that just anyone with a decent notion of English grammar and spelling can “sell” your product, service, or cause?

Remember: your words create your world. Your responses regulate your results.

Be a great lover.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Copy that holds readers at arm’s length with Corporate Speak or  All-About-Us detritus cripples conversion rates.

Don’t be a bore. Be more. Then watch what happens!

Get a professional writer who knows how to serve and seduce–or expect your target audience to go looking for someone else who “knows, understands and loves” them better than you do.

 

 

 

Books for Writers… and Copy Writers

If you don’t have the following books in your personal library, stop reading this blog after this entry and order them online or go buy them.

Seriously. Without them, you may be making mistakes that drive your target audiences away (or up the wall)–NOT a good thing!

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

A Dictionary

A Thesaurus

The Chicago Manual of Style

Hypnotic Writing by Joe Vitale

The Copywriter’s Handbook Robert W. Bly

The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott

Web Copy that Sells by Maria Veloso

Likeable Social Media by Dave Kerpen

Net Words by Nick Usborne

I have an entire library of books about writing but if my house caught on fire, the above titles are the ones I’d grab if I had time (after rescuing people and pets, of course).

To be an always-improving writer, you need to always be writing. Writing needs to become such a habit that you have withdrawal symptoms when you can’t indulge.

Until you have at least 10,000 hours of writing under your fingertips, you’re still an apprentice (and you’re never completely “finished” learning to write better).

Good writing, like everything else that is acquired and worth doing, takes time.

Unless you love it, it’ll be a tedious chore. Because it’s going to bedevil you for a long time until you finally “catch” how to make it memorable, magical and magnetic.

 

 

 

 

 

To Write Better, Read More

I know a few (very few) writers who say they don’t read much.

Hello!?

As you read compelling sales pieces and literature, you  learn to discern what it is about them that keeps you enthralled. I cannot figure out how anyone can become an exemplary writer without being a voracious reader. That’s like presuming you can become a professional brain surgeon by opening up the first cranium you see and digging inside.

Writing isn’t brain surgery. That is, your failure to write well won’t kill anyone if you do it poorly (unless, of course, you write a poorly researched recipe and recommend cyanide and arsenic when you meant to recommend cinnamon and allspice).

So if you want to write songs, study song sheets; if you want to write poems, read tons of poetry; if you want to write great literature, read lots of great literature.

When you do, something happens. You begin to absorb cadences, rhythms, unspoken rules and insights that teachers may not know to tell you about—but you’ll learn to recognize them as time goes by.

Pay attention to what captures your attention. Find out why it did, and you’ll know just that much more about how to mesmerize your readers.

Read the best. Let it wash over you and invade your DNA. At some point you’ll soak up enough to surprise yourself and think, “Did I write that?”

Indeed, you did.  You and a few dozen of your favorite internalized wordsmiths…

Brief Overview of the Rules Writing Part Three

About Semi-Colons

Semi-colons are the the #1 culprit of abuse in writing, so learn the rules here.

Use a semi-colon where a period would work. A semi-colon links two complete sentences that express, in sequence, a connecting thought pattern.  The two halves of the sentences could stand alone but, for effect, they are often joined with a semi-colon.

Use a comma if there is a closer connection, but when you do, add a conjunction.

Also use a semi-colon before transition words: however, therefore, but, etc.

Semi-colons help guide your readers’ thoughts. A semi-colon connects two sentences.

Example: “A warm rain began to fall; the children took off their shoes.”  (Same meaning as, “As a warm rain began to fall, the children took off their shoes” or “The children took off their shoes because a warm rain began to fall.”)