5 Terrible Copywriting Mistakes That Cost Your Business Cash: Words Missing the Mark

One of the most important skills for any creative entrepreneur and business owner to possess is the ability to communicate a message through clear and effective copy. On the other side of the coin, poor copywriting has the potential to drive away business and potential clients, customers and partners.

To empower publishers and help them master the craft of copywriting, Shweiki Media has partnered with author and seasoned copywriter Debra Jason of The Write Direction to present a webinar series on copywriting mistakes and how to avoid them.

Now that product has been defined and the market identified, in this webinar, Jason explains how to avoid the third common mistake, which occurs when one is unclear on how to deliver the marketing message and one’s words, consequently, miss the mark.

There are several mistakes that may repel rather than resonate with readers. Here are a series of do’s and don’t’s…

DON’T #1:

Don’t write copy that starts with the product instead of the prospects.

Customers do not buy products; they buy what the products do for them. In other words, customers buy products for their benefits or results. When copy focuses on the product, it’s not attracting attention, and the average person looking at a sales page online will only give it one to three seconds of his or her attention. The goal is to catch their attention long enough for them to read the whole sales page, website or brochure. The question is how does one make their content compelling and captivating enough to make people stop and read it.

What to DO:

It is important to begin with the concerns of the reader and remember the acronym WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?). When writing, it is one’s job to create a picture in their mind of the ideal customer, including their lifestyle, wants, needs, pains and frustrations, and then identify with this target customer.

To identify with the customer, it is important to put oneself in the customer’s shoes and write. Here are a few strategies for doing this:

  • One should focus the headline on the single strongest benefit one can offer a reader. The goal of the headline is to get customers to read the next line. If the headline doesn’t immediately catch people’s attention, the audience—and opportunity—is lost. It’s important for the audience to see value.
  • It’s important to promise something magnificent—without lying. One should never make a promise the product cannot keep, because that’s what loses customers. Bad news travels much faster than good news, so it is important to keep customers happy.
  • A visually appealing page, using photos or illustrations that catch someone’s eye, is something that one should prioritize. One should be sure to use short paragraphs, white space and bullet points to make a web page or brochure inviting to the readers’ eye.  As for design don’ts, one should stay away from white or light type on a black or dark background, because large blocks of content like that are hard to read.


DON’T #2:

Don’t leave out the big idea. 

Often people make the mistake of leaving out their unique selling proposition. According to direct marketing professionals, people respond to any given proposition for one of two reasons: they want to gain something they do not have, or they want to avoid losing something that they now possess. For instance, people either want to make or save money or they want to avoid losing it.

What to DO:

Here are a few strategies for evoking interest…

  • One should use short, simple sentences, because clarity is important when writing marketing materials.
  • One should write TO people not AT them.
  • One should be specific and let the content detail additional benefits of the product.
  • One should offer something for , because “free” is still one of the most powerful words in the marketing dictionary. Everyone likes getting something for nothing.

DON’T #3:

Don’t commit the “sin” of not digging deep enough. 

This mistake lies in superficiality and lack of detail. What can be done to overcome this?

What to DO: 

  • Touching on emotions is often effective because people react emotionally.
  • Tempting the audience often works as well. One should consider their prospects’ biggest fears (and how the product/service can alleviate them) and the opportunities the prospect can gain via partnering up or purchasing the product or service.

Click here for Part One!

Click here for Part Two!

Click here for Part Four!


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Debra Jason

A recipient of the Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association's (RMDMA) "Creative Person of the Year Award," Debra Jason started The Write Direction in 1989. Past President of the RMDMA, she is a seasoned direct response copywriter with more than 25 years of experience in the field of direct marketing. Since then she has personally written thousands upon thousands of words for hundreds of clients around the country (and some overseas).

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