Why the blandness of vague copy is killing your brand

Vanessa Green
April 25, 2022

Me: “OK, so can you provide some specific examples of the problems you solve?’

Them: “No, I don’t want to go into the nitty-gritty. Our audience doesn’t care about that.”

This is a conversation I’ve sadly had hundreds of times interviewing clients. They are too scared to get into the details of their offering. They’re worried about alienating their audience. They think if they are too nuanced or too specific, they will scare off prospective customers.

The truth is that the opposite is true. Vague copy that is not clear and detailed is off-putting to your prospects.

[Read our blog: How to write high-impact copy for your business (even if you’re not a copywriter)]

How many times have you read a variation of this copy on a business’ website:

“Innovation solutions provider delivering best-in-class customer-centric services to drive business growth.”

BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? It literally doesn’t mean anything. When businesses - and their copywriters - aren’t confident about what they want to say, they hide behind cliches, buzzwords and bland generalities.

It’s safe and comfortable when you’re using words that can mean anything to anyone, and, therefore, mean essentially nothing.

The ‘Corporate Memphis’ of copywriting

If you haven’t heard of ‘Corporate Memphis’, you’ve definitely seen it. This graphic style favoured by big tech and fledgling start-ups uses flat, faceless, illustrations to demonstrate that a company is ‘fun and quirky’.

It’s become so overused now that it’s basically a running joke within the design community. Because when every business uses the same type of branding - be it copy or design - it makes it pretty much impossible to stand out.

The cornerstone of successful copywriting

Shockingly, writing persuasive copy is not about your business, your services or your products

It’s about your customers.

It’s about their challenges, their goals, their objections. Effectively, their wants and needs. And those wants and needs are specific. They are not on the hunt for an ‘innovative solutions provider’; they need answers to their questions. They need details. They want clarity.

They need help. Not marketing platitudes.

Speakin’ their language

This example from HubSpot – a sales and marketing automation software company – talks about growing traffic, converting visitors, running marketing campaigns and getting deeper sales insights. All things their target audience of sales and marketing pros need to do to be good at their job (notice all the times they use the second person in the highlighted sections below).

They don’t talk about having ‘world-leading software’ or ‘providing innovative solutions.’ They put their money where their mouth is and offer examples of how each product specifically helps their customers.

The key to laser-focused copy

It’s no secret - the best way to combat generic copy is to actually speak to your customers to find out what they want. I’ve conducted hundreds of client interviews for customer profile creation and case study development, and what I always find more interesting is the disconnect between what my clients think they’re selling and what customers are actually buying.

If you’re a service provider, chances are you offer more than just the services you list on your website. You’re likely selling a second set of eyes, an external perspective, a shoulder to cry on, a lended ear. You are selling a partnership with strong roots that run deeper as time moves on.

It’s almost impossible to know in what way that partnership helps your customers unless, you know, you actually ask them about it.

The eight golden rules of crafting specific copy

So once you’ve spoken to your customers to gain those invaluable insights, how do you craft compelling copy?

Here are my eight golden rules for writing copy that’s specific to your audience and will get them to convert:

  1. Use examples - showcase scenarios where your product/service can be used or real-world problems they help solve.
  2. Speak to your audience in the second person - use you, your, you’re and invite them into the conversation.
  3. Have a goal in mind - direct your audience to take action - sign up for a demo/consultation/free trial/newsletter subscription/ lifetime supply of cat jokes.
  4. Focus on benefits rather than features - be specific about how your product/service helps first and foremost, and focus on the specs later.
  5. Use simple words - be clear and concise. Use short sentences and copy your audience’s vocabulary.
  6. Leverage social proof - shout about others who have benefited from your product/service. Let them do the selling for you.
  7. Write compelling headlines - spend time crafting them, so they are persuasive and razor-sharp. Most people won’t read past them if they’re bland.
  8. Understand your audience's challenges - and for the love of god, reference them in your copy. Solving their pain is your ultimate gain.

Whether it’s website copy, digital ads, landing pages, or email marketing - these rules apply to any piece of copy you write for your brand.

Do you still need help crafting killer copy? I can help bring YOUR copy to life. Find out why 20+ clients give me a 5-star rating. Book a free copywriting consultation call today.

And repeat after me: You are more than an innovative solutions provider.

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