Thursday, October 25, 2012

Language In Business: Copywriting

Businessmen love money... who doesn't? It may be true that it doesn't bring happiness but we're always happier on payday than when we're counting our pennies at the supermarket.

This is what your time and effort is worth.


How do you get money? You could work. Work is quite simply doing something you don't want to do and being paid for it by someone so they don't have to do it themselves.

Maybe you had a killer idea and you created something that people will want. That's fantastic, but how do you get people to buy it?

You have to convince them. You're definitely not the first person to make something people want and probably not the first person to make the product you're hoping to sell. Perhaps you have one tool at your disposal that others have ignored: language. There's good money for those who can use their language (or languages) well, be it in the form of copywriting, translation or interpreting.

How important is good copy? A lot of small businesses will overlook a professional writer in order to save money... who could blame them, given the economy is thriving like worms in an aviary? The issue is that not everyone writes the same way, with the same message. A person who writes for their own business may leave out key information that their customers want to hear.

Who's going to write your copy... you? Dream on!

Many readers are put off and confused by pretentious language, complicated sentence structure and long-winded messages. Short and simple, right? The language needs to be prioritised to make sure the main selling points are clear and concise.

Then there's register (we talked about this a while ago, read the original post here). Are you communicating with your customers? Is the register appropriate to what you're selling? Would the Ritz have "Yo dude! Come to our totally awesome hotel!" on their brochure? Would a cheap and cheerful hostel need to read like Chaucer?

The words have to be picked carefully. Not every word has the same meaning for readers, just like awesome in the previous example. We doubt most people would think of the original meaning of the word rather than its contemporary usage.

Why is it "I'm lovin' it" and not "I'm enjoying it"? Think about the strength of the words and the message the company wants to convey. Whether it's crap meat or not, you'll likely be more inclined to buy a Big Mac rather than a Larger-Than-Usual Mac.