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5 Great Tips To Improve Your Copywriting Communication Skills
Today I welcome Charlotte Fleming to my blog. Charlotte is a
copywriter from Great Copy, a business based near Forfar
in Scotland that provides copywriting and proof reading services for business websites
and brochures. I would echo a lot of Charlotte’s advice, although I mostly
write for the spoken word in radio & TV commercials and online video while Charlotte
writes for the written page. We got together to help with your written communication
skills. So here are our five top tips on copywriting for your website, brochure
and online marketing newsletter.
One. Remember it
is written English and not spoken English. Spoken English has developed short
cuts to allow people to communicate quickly with friends and colleagues. If you
write as you speak it will look very odd on the page and potentially put off or
annoy some of your readers. Please remember you are writing copy that is to be
your audience in your copywriting and that your aim is to communicate effectively.
Will your copy be read by specialists who commonly use jargon or is it for a
more general readership? If you are writing for a non-specialist audience stick
to plain English otherwise you risk not being understood and if the reader does
not understand what you are writing he or she will stop reading. Even if you
are writing for a niche audience it may be wise to adopt a plain English
writing style, especially if it is not your speciality. A liberal sprinkling of
buzz words and jargon tends to put-off readers. Remember you are writing to communicate
your ideas so write clearly. Do not try to impress by your knowledge of
specialist language, impress by conveying your knowledge and ideas. Your
audience is reading your copy because they want to learn and learn quickly so use
your communication skills to allow them to do that.
Three. As a good copywriter
you should aim at using proper punctuation. If you have never been taught it,
and a lot of people have not, go and learn. But do not use it badly because again
it puts off a huge number of people. Punctuation is for the written word what
intonation is for the spoken word. Both help to convey your meaning. Good use
of punctuation really ought to be part of your communication skills tool kit. Here
are three examples where the meaning of a sentence changes depending on the
A woman without her
man is nothing.
A woman: without her,
man is nothing.
Let’s eat Dad.
Let’s eat, Dad.
A man killed a lion, that attacked him with a knife. A man killed a lion
that attacked him, with a knife.
Also, beware of an Apostrophe Catastrophe lest the Grammar
Police come and get you! If you are unsure as to whether you should use an
apostrophe and you are in a hurry the non-use of the apostrophe often looks
better than the inappropriate use.
Four. This tip
relates to quotation marks or inverted commas. There are in fact there are two
types: single quotes (‘') and double quotes (" "). Generally, in Britain the single
quotes were more common in the past but double quotes are now more common; American
usage has always preferred double quotes. So normally use the double quotes and
only use quotation marks if you are making a quote. For example: Mrs Thatcher
declared “I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady's not
for turning!” Do not put them around individual words because it looks as though
you do not actually know whether it is the right word or not, so it looks messy.
If your intention is to stress a word or phrase then do so with italics.
Five. Lastly and
perhaps most importantly proofread. Check and re-check what you have written.
Spelling mistakes and poor grammar in your marketing material can wreck the
image you set out to create. Charlotte and I use three tactics that help to
catch errors that have managed to creep in: a) Read the copy out aloud. Hearing
what you have written often highlights obvious errors; b) Put the copy aside
for an hour or more and do something completely different. When you come back
to check what you have written you will spot your errors. If you try proofreading immediately after you finish writing, your brain sees what it expects to
be on the page and not what you actually typed; c) Give the copy to someone
else to check. Often they will spot mistakes or odd meanings that you have inadvertently
let slip through.
For more top tips for small business visit the Tosh Lubek Channel on YouTube, where you can also leave a comment and subscribe.
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