If you’ve ever struggled with one of the following:
- Emails: Low Conversions
- Blogs: Low Traffic
- Tag Lines: How to Communicate the Core Message in Less Than 10 Words
- Retail Packaging: How to Compel a Customer Pull the Package from the Shelf
- Marketing: How to Standout – In a Good Way
- Corporate Newsletters: Low Readership
- Training Manuals: How Much Detail is Enough
You’re in the right place. Generating great copy is essential. It can be the difference between clarity vs confusion, reading more vs deleting a message, and a purchase vs no sale.
Here are some examples of copywriting that I’ve flagged as failures:
1. Boring Business Jargon (from an email)
This email was an invitation to a Lunch and Learn session. The body of the email stated the attendees would learn how to:
“Increase Revenue, Lower Cost, Achieve Their Objectives, and Drive Strategy Down to All Levels of the Organization.”
These phrases seem a little familiar, where have I heard them before? How about – everywhere!
The fact that the event organizer resorted to overused business jargon leads me to one conclusion. If they can’t show more creativity or originality with the invitation, why would I believe their message at the luncheon will have any value.
2. Generic Marketing Clichés (from a website product description)
“With the ABC Espresso Maker you can enjoy cafe-style coffee drinks from the comfort of home.”
The writer of this blurb seems to think the primary motive for purchase is the discomfort of a cafe vs. the relative comfort of home. I suspect a more precise benefit is the convenience of home. Most coffee shops put a lot of focus on comfort, (the third-place movement). The “comfort of home” phrase is a tired cliché used in thousands of scenarios and has zero impact. The product is a home coffee maker; its obvious purpose is to make coffee at home.
Individuals purchasing espresso makers are passionate about coffee, not just convenience. Here’s an alternative that focuses on the mindset of the consumer’s love for coffee and convenience as a secondary benefit.
“A perfectly brewed latte with your favorite grind and a frothy head in 2 minutes – without leaving home.”
Which description will have a higher conversion rate?
3. Annoying Introduction (from an email subject line)
The email subject line read:
“Would you please point me in the right direction?”
The sender was a name I didn’t recognize. The only thing I know, this individual wants me to take some action – undoubtedly for their benefit (not mine).
I would ordinarily delete this immediately. But, since I suspect this email might provide a good example worst practices, I continue to read the message.
“Sorry to bother you.” (too late for that)
“Can you please let me know who handles your voice and data and how I might get in touch with them?” (sure)
I could write another 500 words on why this is the wrong approach at many levels. The sender is focused on their interests, not the interests of the receiver (the Audience). There’s nothing here that says they can provide better service, lower rates or faster speeds. What would motivate me to refer this email to the person that handles telecom, and make an enemy in the process?
4. Unclear Meaning (from a textbook)
“Two young men from the streets of Times Square audition as vee-jays.”
What does term “men from the streets” mean? Were these men randomly chosen as they walked down the street? Are they men living on the streets? Or, they could be men that hang out on the street, not necessarily homeless, but perhaps unemployed.
I guess we’ll never know. As a reader, I stop at this point, backup and read the earlier paragraph and then the succeeding paragraph, trying to to determine the meaning of the comment. Meanwhile, I’ve lost focus on the point that was being presented.
Don’t Write Copy That Fails
It takes a little longer to create relevant, original copy that hits all the right notes. The tutorials in LtWG will show you how.