Whenever I start writing for a new client, I have this thing where I sit down and I look at ALL the copywriting they’ve ever put out. It’s only natural.
Spotting and fixing their mistakes has become second nature to me, almost like scratching an itch — it always feels good when you do it, especially if it’s one you can’t really put your finger on.
Right now, I just want to vent and address all the pet peeves I have with most businesses’ copywriting.
If you’re a small business owner, you’ll get a lot out of this article so pay attention.
If you’re a fellow copywriter, you might get a few chuckles in along with a big “I know right?!”
Reader discretion is advised.
#1 — Disorganized web copy.
Don’t you just love it when you go to a website and it’s just a big wall of text?
How is this still happening in 2021?
You still see websites with no bullet points, no headlines, sub-titles, nothing.
No neatness, no organization, absolutely no visual appeal, just a big clunky mess that nobody would ever bother to read through.
Moreover, if that website has a bazillion pages that all have a little of information scattered throughout, the chances of someone reading through all that plummet faster than the first few rockets Elon Musk launched.
Or even worse, if the entire history of that business is squished together on a single landing page, once again, that’s wrong. Wrong and ugly.
Newsflash: your website is not a novel. It shouldn’t look like one, read like one, or feel like one. Your website is there to sell.
And for it to sell, it has to provide all the information someone needs about you (or your product) in an organized, aesthetic, and purposeful manner.
- Headlines, sub-titles, bullet points, visual idea separation.
- Each section has a purpose and everything naturally flows toward achieving the end goal (your call-to-action.)
- Every page has a purpose and provides just the information that you’d expect to see in there.
About us pages should contain your team, your mission, your why, things like that.
Your contact page should contain ways to contact you as well as what someone can expect when they do.
Your home page, well, that’s up for you to decide, but it should mostly be used as either (1) a sales page, (2) a product gallery if you’re in eCom or (3) the backbone that navigates to all of your other little pages.
#2 — Irrelevant content/copy.
Why is your coaching landing page full of testimonials of your happy clients, yet doesn’t include a single word about who you are or why you do what you do?
Why does your real estate landing page begin by explaining to me “the importance of owning a home?” (Imagine having the audacity to think you’ll influence me right then and there to buy a home.)
And why are your ads telling me about the many AMAZING features of your product before even telling me what problem it’s going to solve for me?
Let’s be collegial here — this isn’t purely a problem of messaging. This has a lot to do with the stage of awareness your prospect is in, your targeting, your funnel structure, and a lot more.
Irrelevant content shouldn’t really be pinned as a copywriting problem as much as an overall marketing problem, but it surely deserves a spot here because it’s hella annoying to me and it just wastes people’s time. (Plus, it’s a copywriter’s responsibility to spot this problem and fix it.)
Your ads might be targeting people who don’t even know they have a problem. In that case, why would you try to present yourself as the best possible solution… when they don’t even know they need one?
Or why would you waste your time (and your viewer’s time) by talking about the problem they have when they already know they need a solution — and they just need to find the best one?
And whenever I see these hideous, unrelatable mismatches of messaging and marketing, I immediately start thinking “wow, this person has no idea what the hell they’re doing, do they?”
Whatever content or sales copy you’re writing, you’re writing it *for* someone. Why is it then that you’re completely disregarding what that person *needs* to see?
Think about it: does my target market already know they have a problem and they’re trying to find the best solution out there, or do they not even realize they have a problem?
Never forget: you’re writing for real people. People with eyes, a brain, and most often, a short attention span.
Always make sure your copy/content:
(1) Makes it clear what information you’re trying to get across.
(2) Makes that information relatable to the receiver by putting it in terms they will find interesting and understandable.
Simply put, that’s *relevant* content by definition.
#3 — Boring copy.
There’s no such thing as a boring product. There are just boring ways to look at it.
And yo, I know you can’t make your copy appealing to everyone and all of that, but can you at least make your copy not boring? A.k.a not the same as everyone else’s?
When people are looking at their feed and they’re seeing ads, they’re just screening through everything.
If they see an ad that grabs their attention, their first instinct is to read through it only to the point where they reach that “aha, I know what this is about” moment… so they can instantly click off and continue their mindless scrolling.
Have you ever seen an ad and just thought, “okay, I know what this is about…” and then you immediately skip it?
And think about it — you only have 1 chance to grab attention with your ad even if you show it to someone 50 different times. Once they know what the ad is about, they will skip it every next time they see it.
That’s what I mean by boring. Typical. Usual. Something that can’t surprise you.
I don’t mean to get all philosophical on you, but what’s boring, really?
Boring is what we’re used to. “Boring” is what happens when you hear the same joke 10 times or when you do the same thing over and over until your mind doesn’t get any chemical kicks off it anymore.
Especially nowadays, when there’s so much information out there, writing boring copy is easier than ever. Just look at how many copywriters do it shamelessly and even get paid for it. And here’s a fun fact: the younger your audience is, the more corny you look when writing all of them boring ad headlines.
Here’s how to make sure your copy is NEVER boring:
There’s a concept in neurolinguistics programming known as pattern interruption.
I believe it’s one of the aces that marketers — at least good marketers — have up their sleeve that makes them extremely successful at gripping people’s attention.
A pattern interrupt is, by definition, something surprising and unexpected. Something that breaks you out of your natural thought pattern.
For example, when Tai Lopez started the “here in my garage” era of online marketing, he succeeded at it mainly because of pattern interruption.
People were used to seeing coaches in suits, sitting in their office (or at the beach, if they were edgy and all about “freedom”), making an ad about their new course.
Instead, here comes Tai Lopez, looking like the average Tony Robbins supporter who doesn’t like shaving, in a garage, flaunting a rented Lambo and a house in Beverly Hills.
It worked precisely because it was a pattern interruption for the audience he was targeting. They weren’t used to seeing things like this, so immediately, they started talking about it, and it gained massive steam.
The process of pattern interruption in copywriting boils down to knowing what people are used to seeing, and then *not* doing that. Anything else but that.
These aren’t tips on how to make your copy better, stronger, or more persuasive. More on that later.
These are tips on how to make it not garbage.
Trust me, I learned that the hard way and I’ll never stop learning.
But one thing I know for sure — If you want people to even read your copy (let alone buy because of it,) make it organized, easy-to-read, relevant, and not blah-inducing.