In my book, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, I teach small and mid-size business owners who can't afford to hire professional copywriters how to write effective copy that will bring the results from their marketing efforts that they want and need. However, just as there are steps you must take to write great copy, there are also mistakes you can make that can destroy your marketing messages and reduce your ROI to a fraction of what it could have been. Whatever you do, don't believe the five myths described below.
1. Consumers care about me and my business
No, they don't. They care about what's in it for them if they pull out their wallets and hand over their hard-earned money to buy your product or service. They don't care that you've been a member of the local Chamber of Commerce for 20 years, and they don't care how cute your kids are (so leave them out of your commercials, please). Consumers care about having their needs and wants fulfilled. The goal of copywriting is to convince consumers that the product or service you're selling will meet their needs and desires, even if you have to create perceived needs and desires for them. In other words, your copy must focus on the benefits consumers will receive if they buy your product or service. It's great that your business has operated from the same location for 10 years, but for the most part, consumers only truly care about what your business can do for them and how your business can make their lives easier or better. Those are the messages your copy should focus on in order to drive results.
2. I can use the same copy everywhere
No, you shouldn't. Your copy should change depending on the medium where you're using it. For example, if you're writing copy for an outdoor billboard that consumers are likely to have only seconds to view while driving 65 miles per hour on a busy highway during rush hour, your message must be short and to the point with no room for confusion. However, if you're writing copy for a direct-mail piece that will be sent to customers who have requested to receive information about your business, your copy should be far more detailed with messages that explain, answer questions, and create a sense of urgency to boost response rates.
3. I can use the same copy for everyone
No, that's not a good idea. Different audiences will respond to different messages depending on their demographics, behaviors, experiences and so on. For example, if you're writing copy for a direct-mail piece that will be sent to prior customers, your messages should be very different from those that would appear in a mailing to prospects. One audience is already very familiar with your products and services, while the other has no prior experience to draw from. Clearly, the messages to both audiences must be different to achieve the maximum response rates possible.
4. I need to sound smart in my copy
Not always. The language and tone of your copy should speak directly to the people who are likely to see it. For example, if you're writing copy for teenagers, your copy should be quite different from copy targeted at senior citizens. Consider McDonald's, which goes so far as to change references to its brand name depending on the audience. Turn on MTV and you're sure to see a McDonald's commercial referencing the fast food chain as "Mickey D's". It's also important to omit jargon unless your copy is intended for an audience that will understand and expect it. For example, a business-to-business ad might be an appropriate place for jargon. Again, it always depends on the target audience that you ultimately want to respond to your marketing message.
5. It's easy to write copy
Never. Writing marketing copy is like no other form of writing. It defies many of the rules you may have learned in English class, and it relies more on subtle persuasion, psychology, creativity and an understanding of your specific business and consumers than any other type of writing. Not all writers are good copywriters, and not all copywriters are good writers. If you decide to write your own copy, study the craft prior to putting pen to paper. And if you decide to hire a copywriter to help you, remember that not all copywriters are the same. Only invest in a copywriter who has experience and takes the time to understand your business and your customers.