As a PR agency we are often asked to draft copy for leaflets, brochures, newsletters and websites. Writing corporate copy isn’t quite as simple as some people may think and it is often a huge mistake to try and draft marketing materials in-house.
We are usually stage two of the process and generally receive a call after someone has attempted the first draft and it hasn’t quite worked out how they had expected. Now that doesn’t mean that it is grammatically incorrect or even that it is wrong but just that it doesn’t quite fit the brief.
There are always some common mistakes that businesses make when drafting copy and I would say that the number one has to be using big words where smaller ones will do. The problem that you find is that the person writing the piece will believe that it sounds more impressive if you use ‘big words’ but in reality the recipient will have no idea what it means.
People are very time poor and particularly when it comes to marketing materials it is essential that the key messages, tone of voice and language that are used are aligned to the target audience – not the writer, the recipient.
The biggest mistake seems to be to question why you would use a simple statement when you could sound ‘really impressive’ and use technical terminology and jargon but that isn’t effective communication – in fact it is quite the opposite. Keeping things simple doesn’t mean dumbing down your copy it just means writing with your audience.
When drafting copy we would suggest following three top tips:
- Keep it simple and to the point
- Read through and take out the jargon and repetition (there will almost certainly be some)
- Ask for a second opinion – ask someone who knows nothing about your product or service to read the copy, if they don’t understand it then it’s unlikely your audience will
Sometimes it can be difficult to draft copy which has to include technical specifications or that needs to explain services that are not as straight forward as we may like but the principles are still the same. Big words do not make big impressions.