In this episode, I’m sitting down with copywriter Ally Willis of Cadence Copy Studio in Nashville, TN. We’re chatting all about copywriting tips – like the difference between brand messaging and brand voice, why research is so important, and where to start when writing DIY copy!
Grab something to take notes with and get ready to learn copywriting tips & tricks that every creative business owner should know.
“Conversion copywriting, which is what I focus on, uses research and best practices to invite your audience to say yes to your offer…it’s about translating research into messaging so that your words actually have an impact on your audience and aren’t just more white noise.”
– Ally Wills
Whether going the DIY route or woking with a professional like Ally, I always recommend that my web design clients prepare the copy and images for their website before we start designing.
This allows me to create a stronger design that supports your content, rather than trying to piece your content and design together at the same time.
Plus, as Ally explained, you want to take the time to get to know your audience make sure that your words are not just pretty, but also purposeful! These copywriting tips will help you do this.
When developing your brand messaging, starting with your value proposition should be your number one priority.
Your value proposition, also known as a value message, is at the core of impactful brand messaging. Wherever people first discover you, whether it’s on your social media accounts or a landing page, they need to be able to tell right away:
This last point is especially important because people are more interested in how you can help them than they are in all the great things about your company.
Research shows that people make the decision to stay on a page or leave within 10 seconds of landing there. They need to immediately see and understand your value proposition so they will stick around and keep reading.
Recommended Book: Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller
Brand voice is how you say something. Your brand messaging is what you’re saying.
If you have your brand voice nailed down (ex: maybe you write like you’re talking to your best friend), but you aren’t able to communicate how you can change that customer’s life (your message), you’re missing a core piece.
“It doesn’t necessarily matter how fun your copy is, because if you’re not adequately communicating what impact you will make in your customer’s life, they’re not going to pay attention.” – Ally Willis
Ally recommends developing your brand messaging BEFORE developing your brand voice. Know what you’re bringing to the table as far as how your service or product can change your customer’s life. That’s what will make them want to stick around and want to make a purchase.
Authenticity is typically a good thing when it comes to writing as a solopreneur, but you want to make sure that it’s not too “me focused.” What customers want is to feel understood by you. Developing brand messaging before brand voice can help you make sure you are focusing on your customer’s needs, and not just making your writing sound like you.
People often want to skip straight to writing the pretty words, but the research part of copywriting is so important! Ally calls research “the bread and butter” of conversion copywriting.
While it is data-driven, it’s all about learning to listen to your customers. It will help you understand your audience on a deeper human to human level.
Without hearing from your audience, you can only guess how your product or service might change their life. Guesswork rarely converts someone when they’re reading a sales page.
Listen to your clients, then reflect what you’ve heard into your writing. This will help your audience feel understood. (for more on this, see my article Tips for Writing Website Copy That Makes Your Audience Feel Understood).
So now you know that research is important. But where should you start? Ally has a few suggestions.
Ally credits Copyhackers with this first tip.
After someone opt-ins for a freebie, send them to a page with a one question survey.
Ask what was going on in their life that made them want to take this action. From their answer, you can better understand their pain points. You can also use this approach after someone purchases a product/contacts you about services.
How to incorporate your findings from this thank you page survey into your copywriting:
A thank you page survey for freebie opt-ins is a great place to start if you are a newer business owner, you don’t need to have a ton of customers to do this!
If you are a new business owner, with not much of an audience to survey, you can also do a competitor audit and look at testimonials, product reviews, etc. to get a better idea of the pain points your ideal customer might be experiencing.
“So often, the things that our audience is noticing isn’t always what we’re…mostly paying attention to, so the research can surprise you.” – Maya Palmer
Ally offers DIY copy services for those who prefer to write their own messaging, but with some guidance from a professional. Here’s where she recommends starting if you want to go the DIY route:
Give them 4-5 questions that will help you understand what’s compelling them to follow you, learn from you, purchase from you, etc. – as opposed to other service providers or product-based companies.
You can start here if you don’t have any customers to survey, yet. Create your freebie/lead generation resource, then set up a page on your website to redirect them to once they opt-in.
Ask “What brought you here to [insert action they just took]?” You’re trying to figure out what’s motivating them to connect with you, what’s going on in their life.
You can embed your one question survey using Typeform. If you are on Showit or Squarespace, you can add a contact form on the page right inside the editor. CRMs like Dubsado or Honeybook also have options for creating contact forms/questionnaires that you can embed on your site.
If you don’t have your freebie or customers yet, don’t sweat! Ally recommends starting with the competitor audit mentioned in the research methods above.
Look especially at well-done testimonials. You’ll be able to find out how a service/product is making a customer’s life better. This will help you understand how you can address that dream, desire, or need with your own products or services.
2020 has been a hard year for most of us, filled with a lot of negativity. So, I asked Ally to share one positive thing she’s learned, Here’s a snippet from her response:
“The worth of my day does not depend on my productivity…your day is much more than what you get done. Your day is how you’re connecting with other people, your day is how you’re serving other people. Your day is even when you make time to just read a book.” – Ally Willis
She’s trying to break away from the idea that her worth and identity as a successful business owner are tied to whether or not she’s accomplished what’s on her to-do list by prioritizing non-work things during the work day.
By doing things like going to get coffee with a friend, she’s able to enjoy the freedom of not having to work 9 to 5 as a business owner.
(Related: If you can relate to what Ally has shared above, I highly recommend checking out the book Own Your Everyday by Jordan Lee Dooley. She talks a lot about knowing your purpose and not tying your worth to what you do for a living or the labels we give ourselves. I highly recommend it!)
Ally’s website is cadencecopy.com – feel free to send her an email!
Connect with Ally on Insta for more copywriting tips: @cadencecopystudio – be sure to give a follow and send her a DM if you have copywriting questions!
Pick one thing that you learned in this episode, whether it’s:
And take the first step towards making it happen this week. So often, we learn but don’t every get around to applying our new knowledge to our businesses.
Make it happen, and I’ll be here, cheering you on!
for fellow Designers
for the DIY-er
for growing Creatives