Tips for Writing Clear, Inviting and Ethical Marketing Copy

Is your copywriting respectful and clear?How can we create an open, engaging invitation to our audience while communicating our marketing message clearly? Part 2 of a 6-part series from Lynn Serafinn.

In Part 1 of this 6-part series on writing marketing copy, we looked at the differences between ‘old school’ marketing strategies and those in the new 7 Graces marketing paradigm. We said that old-school marketers aim to ‘persuade’ people to buy, whereas the aim of new paradigm marketing strategies is to educate and empower our audience, so they can make informed decisions.

To address the question of ‘how do we do that?’ we looked briefly at the first two Graces in The 7 Graces of Marketing model: the Grace of Connection and the Grace of Inspiration. Today, we’ll be examining the next two of the 7 Graces – the Grace of Invitation and the Grace of Directness – and explore what they can teach us about writing marketing copy that is clear, engaging, ethical AND effective.

What Do We Mean by ‘Marketing Copy’?

So we’re all on the same page during this discussion of ‘marketing copy’, let me clarify what I mean when I use this term in this article series. ‘Copy’ means your written words, and (obviously) ‘marketing copy’ means the words that you use to promote your business. In this series, I’m mainly referring to online marketing copy, as that’s predominantly what I work with. But even though most of my examples will be drawn from the online world, surely these same ideas and principles could easily be applied to print marketing, as well as spoken word in broadcast media advertising.

Bear in mind also that ‘marketing copy’ doesn’t just refer to the words you write for promotions or sales page materials. It includes the words you use on the home page of your website, in your Tweets, your Facebook posts, your newsletters, your autoresponder copy, and your articles/blog posts. If you’re an author, your marketing copy also includes your wholesaler blurb, your media kit and your back cover copy. Really, your marketing copy is anything else that speaks as the ‘voice’ of your company. It could also refer to any kind of ‘scripted’ or systematised communication with your audience – including when you do 1-to-1 consultations with a prospective client.

Bringing the Grace of INVITATION into Your Marketing Copy

In Part 1, I defined the Grace of Invitation as ‘to practice openness, engagement, hospitality and respect’. While openness, engagement and hospitality all have to do with the environment and experience you create for your online readers and social media followers, I think ‘respect’ is the quality we most need to bring into our written word.

It’s easy to say that, but how does ‘respect’ show up in our marketing copy? Here are some ideas that come to mind for me:

  • Respect for their time
    How many sales pages have you seen that seem to go on FOREVER? How many info videos have you watched, or how many audio webcasts have you listened to, that make big promises at the beginning of the video, and then the person goes on and on about themselves and how great they are, only to give you the information you wanted to find out (if they do at all) in the last 10 seconds of a 20 minute broadcast? Then, after you’ve decided to buy a downloadable product because it looks like a great deal, how many pages of ‘But Wait! There’s MORE! Buy this thing TOO!’ do you go through before you finally get to the product you’ve actually bought? These kinds of marketing techniques – so rife across the Internet – are guilty of the ‘Deadly Sin of Invasion’, which is the antithesis of the Grace of Invitation. They invade our space and our time, and impose themselves on us like a travelling salesman with his foot jammed firmly in the threshold of our front door. ‘Having respect for people’s time’ means that our marketing copy says what we need to say ONCE and we give people what they asked for when they asked for it.
  • Respect for their boundaries
    Respect also means that we respect our audience’s fundamental right to have a choice in making a decision to buy from us, or not. So much of the Internet marketing copy I read aims at making the audience feel uncomfortable and anxious. Also, all too many ‘old school’ marketers have the practice of bombarding you with daily emails – all set up in their autoresponder system – as soon as you sign up for something from their site. The thinking is that this keeps their leads ‘warm’. But the problem is, of course, that we as a culture have become inundated with all this email bumph, and our inboxes look like a scene from a National Lampoon movie, where we have a houseful of houseguests from hell, with no idea how to get rid of them. When we bring in the Grace of Invitation into our marketing copy, we allow our audience to take their time, and to come and go as they wish. We also use our website, newsletters and autoresponders to create a space in which they would prefer to stay rather than click away or unsubscribe. This means creating copy that communicates things of genuine value that are delivered to them with respectful language and at a respectful pace.
  • Respect for their pre-existing knowledge AND lack of pre-existing knowledge
    This is a subtle one, and tough for many people to master, especially when they go to write the landing pages of their website (or the back cover copy for their book). For example, I often dissuade my clients from using too much jargon in their marketing copy, because it can require too much explanation and won’t speak to those who aren’t in the know. The challenge always: how do you communicate to an audience whose knowledge on a subject might be mixed? How can you find a balance that neither condescends or patronises the more experienced audience, nor baffles or talks over the heads of the less experienced? Of course, it helps if you can narrow this range by getting your audience right. The more specifically you can identify your ideal audience, the easier your job becomes, and the more easily people can recognise themselves in your written copy. But even within that focused audience, there is always going to be a range of experience/inexperience, and mastering great copy means that you are able to satisfy readers at both ends of this spectrum.

Feel free to add your own examples in the comments section at the end of this article!

I’ve written many other articles about the Grace of Invitation on this site. If you’re interested in learning more about how to cultivate it at a practical level, you might wish to read some of them, especially ‘Fit for Purpose – Mastering the Grace of Invitation Online’ and ‘Is Your Call to Action an Invitation or a Demand?’

Bringing the Grace of DIRECTNESS into Your Marketing Copy

In Part 1, I defined the Grace of Invitation as ‘to embrace simplicity and straightforwardness in our communication’. This means simplicity of language and straightforwardness of message:

  • Simplicity of language
    An enormous amount of marketing copy I see attempts to ‘baffle us with bullshit’ rather than ‘saying it like it is’. The nutritional, health, cosmetic and technological industries are particularly guilty of this. I cannot count the number of fancy made-up terms advertisers in these industries have for the supposed ‘USP’ of their products – tetra-this, hydroza-that, intelli-something else. All these invented (and often trademarked) terms are meant to make us think something is more potent, more effective, faster, stronger, and just plain better than something else. Furthermore, these quasi scientific terms send the unspoken message that these things are more intelligently designed that others. Advertisers know we’re culturally conditioned to respond this way, and that’s why they use them.
  • Straightforwardness of message
    Many mainstream advertisers use ‘distractive’ entertainment techniques to get you to pay attention to their adverts. This blurs their message, and makes their marketing more about the advertisement than about the quality of the product itself. This kind of marketing might ‘imprint’ a brand on people’s minds, but it fails to give them adequate information about the product to make an informed decision about whether or not to buy it. That’s why I believe this kind of advertising is unethical. But big media advertisers are not the only ones who are guilty of lack of straightforwardness in their marketing. I work with a lot with clients in the personal development field, and I find it astonishing how difficult it is for many of them to achieve straightforwardness in the way they communicate their message online. Many personal development professionals (coaches, therapists, trainers, authors) don’t want to be ‘pushy’ in their marketing, but they make the mistake of thinking that the opposite of ‘pushy’ is ‘flowery’. It’s not. The opposite of ‘pushy’ is clear, clean and simple. If the language on your website is so flowery that it doesn’t actually tell people what you do for them, it’s not practicing the Grace of Directness. To have ‘grace-full’ marketing copy, we need to cut out all the pointless waffle and just say what IS.

Again, feel free to add your own examples in the comments section at the end of this article!

I’ve written many other articles about the Grace of Directness on this site. If you’re interested in learning more about how to cultivate it at a practical level, you might wish to read some of them, especially ‘Directness and Transparency in Marketing – a Vital Interdependence‘ and ‘The Pied Piper of Marketing – Getting Hooked Without Knowing It

Coming up next time…

Next time, in Part 3, we’ll explore the Grace of Transparency, and how it can shine light upon the topic of creating sales pages. In Parts 4 and 5, we’ll look at the Graces of Abundance and Collaboration. Then, finally in Part 6, we’ll round off this series with some of my top writing tips on how to construct your marketing copy from a practical level.

Be sure to subscribe to the 7 Graces blog so you can be sure you’ll receive the entire series. And do have a browse around the site and leave a comment before you go.

And lastly, if you’re looking for help in writing marketing copy for your ethical business or non-fiction book, drop us a line via the contact form on this site.

Lynn Serafinn
25th October 2013

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The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER

The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing.

Brit Writers Awards Finalist
eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically, by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media.

eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales

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Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of Marketing

LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)

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