MUST-READ for Copywriters and Marcom People: Fast and Easy Way to Make Your Copy Easier to Read

April 19, 2015

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It doesn’t matter if you’re a sales copywriter or a Marcom person, one of the most important things to do is to check your writing for readability.

You may have spent countless hours fine-tuning and editing your work but does it necessarily mean your readers can understand you?

So before you send your press release or sales brochure for print, make sure you understand this rule-of-thumb: the more readable your text is, the higher the chance you’ll get a response.

Before you go, “What?! Does that mean I have to proof-read my document again?” Here’s the GOOD NEWS: Checking for readability is as easy as a click of the button. It only takes a minute and involves very little work on your part.

Here’s what you should do:

Copy and paste your text into Microsoft Office Word 2010. If you’re not using Microsoft Word, you can use an online readability tool such as http://www.readability-score.com

In the menu bar at the top of the screen, click on Review.

Next, click on Spelling and Grammar:

Spelling and Grammar

In the window that pops up, click on Options:

PopupTick the little check-box that says Show Readability Statistics, then click on OK:

Show readability statsWhenever you run a spell-check on your document, you’ll get a summary of the readability statistics:

readability stats

Right up to this point, you’ll see several sets of figures. Don’t let them frustrate you. I hate numbers myself! But what we’re really interested in are the bottom 3 sets of scores

1. Passive Sentences is the percentage of your text using passive voice. The lower the percentage, the better.

Here’s why you should minimize the use of passive voice in your writing

2. Flesch Reading Ease is a highly accurate formula developed by world leading readability expert Dr. Rudolph Flesch. As the name suggests, the formula is based on the number of long words you use, and tells you how easy a text is to read. The higher the score, the better.

3. Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level relates to US Grade School reading ages. For example, a score of 8.0 means that an 8th grader can understand the document.

Now this doesn’t mean your reader has to be an 8th grader!

Bear in mind that your reader, who is very likely a busy person, has very little time (and patience!) in reading your copy. Asian readers, especially, hate to read something that is difficult to understand, or as they often say, “bombastic”.  It is very unlikely that he or she will give it full attention if they have to check the dictionary each time they encounter a difficult word (e.g. “tenacious”, “exacerbate”, “scintillating”, “collegial”).

You get the idea.

So always make your text easy for busy (and impatient) people to understand what you’re trying to say – without them having to check the dictionary.

If your Flesch Reading Ease score is low (e.g. 50 or below), it’s mostly due to sentence length. Proof-read your document again and pick out any long sentences. Could you reduce them? Or split them in two, even three? Check for any unnecessarily long words and use an online thesaurus such as http://www.wordreference.com for a simpler meaning of that word.

For example, could you say “co-operative” instead of “collegial”, or “lucky”, instead of “auspicious”?

Remember, the more easy your copy is to read, the higher the chance you’ll get a response!


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Copywriting Basics: Be Someone Who Knows How to Solve Problems!

September 27, 2010

If you want to be a great sales writer, you need to be able to solve problems.

Because people don’t buy a product or service because they need it; they buy things to solve a problem. And selling is all about helping people recognize something in their lives that they’re unhappy or dissatisfied with.

It could be helping someone who’s been overweight all his life successfully shed those extra kilos, or helping busy, working singles find a date that could blossom into a long-term romantic relationship. Whichever the situation, there is always a problem that needs to be fixed, and that’s what you need to focus on.

Once you’ve helped people become more aware of their problems, you can offer them a vision of how much better their lives would be if they engaged your service or bought your product.

What are some of the problems people have that you can offer a solution to?

Get your copy of QuickStart Copywriter now and learn in full detail how you can help your readers solve their problems by making a few simple (but critical) tweaks to your sales writing.


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When You Write: Top 5 Copywriting Mistakes That Could Cost You a Sale

January 15, 2010

Mistake #1 – Losing sight of your main purpose to sell

Solution: Always remember that the main goal of copywriting is to motivate and persuade. In other words, your writing should present more than just plain facts. At the same time, you shouldn’t let creativity divert you away from telling the right message. You want your target audience to remember the product or service you’re offering.

Mistake #2 – Writing boring copy

Solution: From the headline to your call to action, your copy must arouse interest. Weave stories into your copy, season your copy with colorful phrases, useful tips, emotional trigger words or anything that will increase your readers’ involvement in your story.

Mistake #3 – Misrepresenting your facts

Solution: Always do your research and make sure you get your facts straight. The worst thing you can ever do is open yourself to false claims and information that can’t be substantiated. ALWAYS be truthful and resist the temptation to distort  information just because you want to make a sale.

Mistake #4 – Using too much hype

Solution: Pepper your copy with too many “salesy” words like “unbelievable”, “amazing”, “incredible” and you will ruin your credibility. You want to persuade your readers in a believable, truthful way and not have them dismiss you as another person who’s trying to sell them something.

Mistake #5 – Forgetting to revise your work

Solution: Copy that’s riddled with grammatical and spelling errors leaves a bad impression on your readers. Weed out those errors. Always remember to check your facts, spelling and grammar and make sure you haven’t left anything out. Better yet, have someone else to look over your copy with a fresh pair of eyes.


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Before You Write: 5 Important Things to Remember about Effective Copywriting

January 2, 2010

1. It’s about changing people’s behaviours – Whether it is pitching for a sale or generating leads, the ultimate goal of good, effective copywriting is to entice your target audience to do what you want them to do and feel compelled to respond to an offer. Oftentimes, understanding how their minds work is an added advantage.

2. It’s about selling – Contrary to what most people think, copywriting is mainly about selling, followed by writing, and not the other way around. You may have an First Class degree in English Literature but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can sell.

3. It’s never about “me” – In any successful relationship, be it personal or in business, people want to be loved and understood. Likewise in copywriting, it’s never about your product, your company; not even your special offer or promotion!

This is where many businesses go wrong in their marketing efforts – they become overly in love with their products that forget their target audience’s needs and what they are motivated to hear and read. Always focus on your target audience and craft a compelling sales copy that they will pay attention to and act upon.

4. It’s about speaking your target audience’s language – Ever been in a situation where you’ve felt “left out” because you couldn’t understand a word someone else is saying? Sadly, the same thing happens in copywriting. Many writers who are just starting out assume that using big, impressive words will, well, impress readers.

The truth is, ordinary readers want to be engaged and seduced by simple, everyday language. Listen to how people talk. What common languaging, dialect or phrase would you use to describe your product?

5. It helps to build some sales experience – Depending on how some people describe it, copywriting is in fact, salesmanship in print. But the problem (and irony!) is, while most copywriters are armed with advertising degrees or relevant paper qualifications, many of them do not have practical sales experience.

If you don’t have any sales experience, then I strongly urge you to start observing how successful salespeople sell and close deals and then model after their selling strategies in your writing. This, I believe, is the difference between a copywriter who can write to impress, and one who writes to sell.


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