Do Better Writing Blog

Tempted to Throw Away the Manuscript on 5 Separate Occasions

😣The dark secret about showing the client the “first” version

I just finished reading my first book written during the pandemic era. The title is Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel by Anthony Doerr. A significant length of 640 pages, but the book didn’t seem long. You can hear the editor’s praises (without giving away spoilers) here.

Now I know why the book was on the New York Times bestseller list for 19 weeks. The novel is about five characters whose stories cover almost six centuries. The people are all interconnected through a priceless ancient text.

Why mention it?

First, in case you didn’t know, Anthony Doerr is famous for winning the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. He invested ten years researching and writing the award-winner, All the Light We Cannot See.

The book received reviews like this:

“If a book’s success can be measured by its ability to move readers and the number of memorable characters it has, Story Prize-winner Doerr’s novel triumphs on both counts. Along the way, he convinces readers that new stories can still be told about this well-trod period, and that war–despite its desperation, cruelty, and harrowing moral choices–cannot negate the pleasures of the world.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

And this:

“Intricate . . . A meditation on fate, free will, and the way that, in wartime, small choices can have vast consequences.” The New Yorker

But if you suspect I’ve drunk **the Anthony Doerr is the Greatest Author of All Time kool-aid**, hold on.

Continue reading Tempted to Throw Away the Manuscript on 5 Separate Occasions

Wake Up, B2B! Use Concrete Phrases to Sell More Today

concrete art refers to concrete phrases in writing

Everyone loves a good story. Good storytelling requires concrete details. Straightforwardly true. But is B2B listening?

I recently read a consumer research article, published in July 2020, about how language shapes consumer behavior. And it’s not a psychological trick. Or a persuasion technique. Or some marketing-speak that bears no resemblance to the present B2B world.

Gathering evidence from “five studies, including text analysis of over 1,000 real consumer-employee interactions, demonstrated that customers were more satisfied, willing to purchase, and purchase more when employees speak to customers concretely.”

What?!

Express yourself concretely and get more sales? Simple word choice is a game-changer. Really?

Yes, really!

So can we apply this language tip to shape the attitudes and behaviors of our web visitors? Sure we can. Let me share details about concrete details.

Continue reading Wake Up, B2B! Use Concrete Phrases to Sell More Today

10+ Digital Marketing Tools to Create Delightful Content

Creative Confidence book cover

While I help marketers build their growing businesses, I’m also Marketing Chief for my company. Thought I’d share the marketing tools that help me produce attractive content for my growing audience. A copywriter doesn’t work alone. Well, yes, she does, but she also relies on great tools and platforms.

Here are the resources I use every day, beyond a spiral notebook and a pen (staples!).

Continue reading 10+ Digital Marketing Tools to Create Delightful Content

Web Copywriting: What Content is Important to Include?

Morning beginning sky pink and bluee

How a web copywriter approaches planning a website

Whether you’re considering a website update, or a complete makeover, you have many questions. “What content should I have on my website?” is a common one clients ask. Web copywriters get this question all the time.

I could answer, “It depends.” But let me try to answer the question another way.

How does a web copywriter undertake gathering, sifting, and choosing the content?

She concentrates on creating the copy an ideal prospect desires to read.

Continue reading Web Copywriting: What Content is Important to Include?

Use This Unadvertised Technique to Write a Super-Captivating Headline

Looking to update your sales collateral? I have three words for you.

Headlines. Headlines. Headlines.

Headlines in your sales materials are a big deal. They’re like a theatre marquee located downtown. Building a lot of fanfare. Designed to attract an audience. A paying audience. Enticing the audience to come through the door or read the copy.

Continue reading Use This Unadvertised Technique to Write a Super-Captivating Headline

How Voice and Tone are Powerful Magnetic Forces to Charm Your Customers

Two women talking on string telephone necklace set

On your marketing assets to do list: ✅Update sales collateral. Salespeople need it! Like, yesterday.

Right now, the sales team is creating emails, one-page sales sheets and slide decks on their own. You see the inefficiency, plus don’t the salespeople cover large swaths of territory?

Salespeople need to spend most of their time in the field. Not coaxing a wi-fi printer to print in high-resolution. Turning the home printer off and on when it glitches. (Oh, I remember these days well. I was a field sales representative for over ten years. Another story for another time.)

Who knows how the sales content looks when it’s presented to a customer. Oooo, you don’t want to know.

So what do you need to do? Where do you start? Let me share what’s brewing in my copywriter brain.

Develop a branding guideline

Why?

Prospective customers are getting to know your company. What does the company stand for? Not only what the company is, but what it is not. What do you want customers to think of your company? And if each salesperson is giving their own version, these muddled messages are causing distrust among customers.

To build one strong business relationship after another, sales collateral needs to stick to a consistent brand voice.

The brands that connect with their audience will be rewarded. According to the MBLM Brand Intimacy Report, consumers are open to paying a premium for brands they feel emotionally bonded to as compared to less-engaging brands.

In this series, I cover the basics of developing a brand voice and why that’s important. Already familiar? Then share with your team. Spread the knowledge. Just in case, a refresher may be useful. I’m all for avoiding confusion, and establishing a common dictionary is a good first step.

Here we go on the path towards defining a consistent brand voice. First, let’s explain the basic terms of voice and tone, the key difference between the two, and give some examples.

Continue reading How Voice and Tone are Powerful Magnetic Forces to Charm Your Customers

How’s Your Website Doing?

Hire a pro copywriter to audit your website now

I bet you could make a list. Your home. Your car (or pickup truck). Your retirement plan. Even your body.

You try to check on these important assets regularly. Annual audit, most likely.

And why do you do it? Well, you care about them. For possessions, you worked hard to earn enough money to acquire them. For your body, it’s highly important to be in tip-top shape.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rohn

You want these assets to last, to be effective, to help you get you where you want to go. Broken or worthless is no help to you.

Had a website checkup lately?

Because this is an article about marketing, I’ve got to ask you:

When’s the last time you’ve done a checkup on your website? And actually had a copywriting pro review it?

Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios examined the top 200 marketing websites, according to Alexa, and determined the interval between major website redesigns for each site.

The average timeframe for a website redo was 2 years, 7 months.

If you’ve been in “set it and forget it” mode with your website for more than 3 years, now’s the time to do a website review.

Continue reading How’s Your Website Doing?

Steal Like an Email Copywriter

Shannan Seely in RIT t-shirt

Get inspiration from your inbox to reignite your enthusiasm for writing emails

This article is filled with gratitude to the office staff at the Parent and Family Programs at Rochester Institute of Technology. Here’s the story …

We moved our oldest daughter, Claire, to the college dorm last month. She’s enrolled at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, NY. And I feel like she was prepared, and we were prepared because of the Parent and Family Programs staff.

Well, true, Claire was organized. She kept her parents on track, but RIT was a positive influence.

Let me explain.

Initially, my husband and I scoffed at the emails we were receiving from RIT. Oh, this message is meant for helicopter parents. Adults who monitor their teenagers 24 / 7. Parents who are resisting the transition of their parenting role. Less micromanagement, more shifting responsibilities to their child.

Their boy or girl is a young adult, whether the parents are ready or not. Eventually, their child will need to do his or her own laundry.  

But then we – okay, actually me, because I’m the one who reads the emails – came across information I didn’t know.

Valuable Information

The message recommended checking your health insurance to determine what coverage your student will have when they move to Rochester. Some health insurance plans have limited out-of-network coverage. Turned out, she needed in-state health insurance coverage for her out-of-state college student status. And the emails informed us about the options.

Thanks to the emails from RIT Parent and Family Programs, we learned this before she started college. My husband signed her up with the appropriate insurance. Yayy! Peace of mind. For her. For us.

I’m in the Parents of RIT Club

I continued to feel the emails were useful. Stuff I wanted to know. I felt like the emails were written to me personally. But I know I was one of thousands of subscribers.

Write as if you’re emailing one good friend, because that’s how people will get to know you, like you, and trust you. Henneke Duistermaat

How did the staff make me feel like they were writing exclusively to me? And why does this matter? Because you can learn from RIT’s emails. Even if you’re in healthcare, pharma or business-to-business. Because RIT completely looks at the reader experience. (I know, I know, they are a high-tech design school. But bear with me.)

You can do what they do. And your subscribers will be grateful.

Continue reading Steal Like an Email Copywriter

Website Quick Fix #2

Improve your B2B website headlines with these 3 helpful copy tips

(What is Website Quick Fix? You watch over my shoulder via video as I talk through a webpage’s copy and pinpoint copy challenges. Then I share tips to improve the copy. Too busy for video? Catch the written summary below.)

Neogen, an international B2B biotechnology company

★ What’s a good B2B website headline?

On your website, are the headlines capturing your prospect’s attention? They are the first words your prospect sees. What impression are they making?

You could just use a free headline analyzer – type your headline and you’re done.

But … how do you know for sure?

In Website Quick Fix #2, I look at a website for an international B2B company. Their sales have grown during the past year. Are their headlines keeping up?

The website: Neogen

Neogen develops and markets products for healthcare, food, and animal safety. They’ve expanded in biosecurity, The company offers multiple products with government approvals to fight COVID-19.

The spotlight: B2B website headlines

The headline is the most important set of words on your webpage. Good copywriters know its value, so they work hard in creating it.

★ What’s the purpose of a headline?

According to the great copywriter, Gene Schwartz, the headline has one job to do – to stop your prospect and compel him to read the second sentence of your copy. Gene’s professional life preceded the internet. But he also said your second sentence has only one job – to encourage your prospect to read the third sentence of your copy.

To start the review, let’s visit the page, Neogen Life Science Research:

Neogen B2B website headline

https://www.neogen.com/solutions/life-science-research/

As you put yourself in your buyer’s shoes, read below:

Headline: Your Provider of Industry-Preferred ELISA Test Kits

Would this headline stop and compel you to read the first sentence of the copy? No. Some B2B websites are guilty of poor headlines. Marketers may think the headline needs to be straightforward. And straightforward can be boring.

From the prospect’s point of view, this headline isn’t engaging him.

Continue reading Website Quick Fix #2

Website Quick Fix #1

3 crucial copy tips to improve an existing healthcare home page

(What is Website Quick Fix? You watch over my shoulder via video as I talk through a webpage’s copy and pinpoint copy challenges. Then I share tips to improve the copy. Too busy for video? Catch the written summary below.)

ABB OPTICAL GROUP, a B2B Healthcare company

How’s your website performing?

You expect your website to represent your company in the best possible way every day, 365 days a year. Even the days when you’re on summer vacation. (And I hope you’ll be taking a vacation this summer. You deserve it.)

Websites are an investment, of course. You were probably amazed when you learned the cost of launching a new one, not to mention routine maintenance. Your website is important and worthy of your attention.

How’s your website performing? Could boring copy be a contributing factor? If you feel like your website needs a refresh, where do you start?

You start by examining the copy.

In Website Quick Fix #1, I review the home page of an existing healthcare website. Everything I summarize here can be applied to other industries too.

Continue reading Website Quick Fix #1