R U :( w/ crappy copywriting?

“Speaking your mind is an awfully dangerous thing to do. Choose your words carefully.” Rick Beneteau

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It continues to amaze me how those who might otherwise operate with professionalism handle e-mails, phone calls and public internet posts. If your goal is to build credibility and gain prospects’ attention (that would be in a way that bolsters their confidence in your ability to help them achieve rather than undermining it), keep in mind, everything counts. This is particularly important when it comes to copywriting because how you handle yourself in communications reflects back in a big way on your strategic marketing success.

E-mail is copywriting

E-mail has become part of our daily marketing mix. If you’re not considering these messages as copywriting, maybe you should. People form opinions about you based on how you use this tool.

I have a friend who was the head of the development department of a large organization. She was a meticulous proofreader and demanding perfectionist as the point person for the client that employed our firm. Now she’s freelancing. Her e-mail messages are cypher sans the key. Sometimes there’s no message with a file. It grows tiresome asking for the English translation and attachment clarification. This isn’t a kid raised with thumbs as the most exercised body part – she’s a gal in her late fifties.

A horse trainer colleague replies to e-mails with cryptic messages devoid of reference snippets. She’s a prolific writer for trade publications. Some days, we exchange multiple e-mails on an array of issues. I used to spend hours researching thread history to decipher the half-sentences and out-of-context comments (usually concerning a topic covered days ago). I don’t do this anymore.

Phones count in strategic marketing

To the vendors and business contacts (especially those seeking more work or client referrals from me) who think it’s cute to call and say “it’s me,” or provide no introduction before you start talking – it’s not. How old are you?

I had a drive-by appraiser leave a message the other day lambasting me for not being home to confirm she was at the right house (she wasn’t). No phone number, no name, no appointment. I was only able to figure out what this voice mail rant concerned because she mentioned the bank (and the employees don’t behave this way, so that left contractor). Here’s a brilliant idea – if you’re leaving a message for someone that doesn’t know you, identify yourself, state a reason for calling and leave your phone number. Seems odd people must be told to do this. It’s kind of like writing a thank you letter these days, I guess.

Brawling and hawking on social media

Have you ever seen what happens to a business or industry forum run by a troll? What are they thinking? Attacking and insulting prospects that come by to learn or consider you as a provider isn’t smart strategic marketing. Sure, you ultimately silence differing opinion or turn every discussion into a brawl for your entertainment, but you’re not going to sway people toward your perspective with vile prose. Nor will you encourage prospects to become clients. You will, however, bolster that victim mentality you embrace to put the blame on others for your business and life failure.

Social media’s resurrected the hard-core salesman. How many buy from those who do nothing but hawk their wares without even bothering to check back on threads they start? Goodbye could-be buyers who respond in the comments to your post (this is particularly odious with the Linked In groups).

Let’s start a courtesy revolution

Am I the only one who finds these time-wasters rude? Do you pause before sending a referral, wondering if they’ll handle client communications in a similar fashion?  Have you decided to devote less time or energy to those who make messages convenient for them and tiresome for you? Are you ready to be memorable in a good way?

How about if we stand out by standing up for consideration? Imagine how much, together, we could do to bring common sense and courtesy back to communications.

We might even start a movement.

4 Responses to R U :( w/ crappy copywriting?
  1. Jan
    August 28, 2012 | 8:11 am

    If I am honest, my emails tend to be in my own style, and I do need to pause sometimes before sending. When you can’t see body language, my abrupt “tell it as it is” style can be read wrong – especially by people who don’t know me. I’ll admit I’m not perfect!

    Don’t start me about hawking on social media. It’s a pet hate and I’ve ranted enough as it is. I’m not saying don’t announce new products or services, or even pop in a sales message. But if every update is screaming about your wares, then I’m not sticking around to listen to it!

    • Nanette Levin
      August 28, 2012 | 11:11 am

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Jan. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, since writing is a large part of what I do for a living, but I too have had many messages misinterpreted. Sometimes it’s the words, other times it’s due to what the reader wants to see. Personally, I prefer frank and to the point, but some see an affront if you don’t lead in with chit chat. I get this, but often forget. Agreed on the hawking. Generally, if I get two purely promotional messages in a row from someone (if I haven’t asked for them) or see spamming multiple group lists twice with the exact same message, I’ll note who they are and decided not to do business with them. Everyone has their own gauge, but that’s mine.

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