November 16, 2017
Whether you’re a website owner, an Amazon seller, or a professional copywriter, striking a confident and persuasive note with your customers is key to drumming up leads, conversions, and sales. However, just like constantly saying “Umm” when you speak, far too many writers come across as less than professional because they make these common mistakes.
Correcting these is a simple task that can heighten the success of your writing with barely any effort.
Mistake 1: Thinking everyone communicates the same way.
Let’s pretend you have to share some news about a disappointing medical diagnosis. How will you phrase the information when you tell:
- Your spouse?
- Your mother?
- Your child?
While the details may be the same (I need have surgery to correct a serious problem), it is possible that you will go into much more detail with your spouse than the other family members. In addition to the medical specifics, you will probably also discuss the repercussions this surgery will have on your life over the next couple of weeks as you prepare, undergo, and recover from the ordeal.
You might give your mother or father the basics so as not to worry them too much. Then, if they have additional questions, you can answer them as needed.
However, for your child (depending on age), it is likely that you’ll phrase medical terms differently, use layman’s language, talk about the positive aspects of the surgery, and otherwise take the approach of everything being all right in the end.
Want another example? Read this classic blog post about writing copy for the NCIS team.
Not all people communicate in the same way. Even though the specifics of any writing project may be the same, your job as the writer is to phrase the copy to best suit your customer base.
Mistake 2: Repeating yourself.
I’m not talking about rephrasing or reframing (reinforcing the same ideas in order to get a point across to instill remembrance). I’m referring to literally repeating statements practically verbatim.
This usually comes from not knowing what to say or having a lack of information. Rather than writing in circles, expand your knowledge. Ask for more details from the manufacturer or client, or do some online research from reputable sources to gather additional facts.
Mistake 3: Using seriously overused words.
At Marketing Words, we have a strict limit that writers can only use the word “enjoy” one time in a piece of copy or a blog post. This is one of the most overused words found in copy. Which other ones do you need to keep an eye on?
- Stuff — Use a real word, not slang.
- Things — Ditto.
- Great – You can find more expressive words.
- Just — Most of the time, the word “just” is similar to cellulose powder in vitamin capsules. It is used to fill space.
- So — Typically used at the beginning of sentences when making an attempt to write conversationally. It is almost always best to leave it off.
- That — If the sentence reads correctly without the use of the word “that,” leave it out. Example: He thought that he needed to go to the store reads equally well as He thought he needed to go to the store.
- Had — Same as above. Unless you are talking about something that happened in the past, you do not need to say, “She had said she was leaving” when “She said she was leaving” sounds better and uses fewer words.
These are some of my favorite copywriting thesauruses. I have the paper versions (from many years ago) and they still serve me well today.
Mistake 4: Starting numerous sentences the same way.
While we might not notice it during the writing process, many people get into a subconscious habit of starting sentences the same way. Here’s a recent example I found (blog post):
It’s annoying and boring to read copy or content that is constructed this way. Proof your own writing projects (or hire a proofreader) so you can replace routine repetition with differentiation and interest.
Mistake 5: Using lazy words and phrases.
When crafting your copy, originality is important. If all you offer your reader is words and phrases they see everywhere else, they are likely to simply roll their eyes and click away.
Stand watch for words and phrases including these:
- Be sure to
- You’ll want to
- For all intents and purposes
- Perfect for ______________
- You’ll love
Here’s a tip that plays a big role in creating engaging copy: Simply pay attention to what you write. Too often, being in a hurry to finish causes these five mistakes to occur. Take your time, read and then reread what you’ve written. You’ll greatly reduce the risk of sounding like an amateur.
What many writers don’t realize is that most of the magic of copywriting happens long before the first word is ever written. This is the part of the process that is time consuming.
Karon Thackston is president of Marketing Words Copywriting Agency helping Amazon sellers, eCommerce site owners and content marketers rank higher, convert better and make more sales.