The accident-prone copywriter and how to tell if you have one in your business

The accident-prone copywriter

You’re going to think I’m overthinking this, but there’s a sign in the window of my local dry cleaners.

“Armed guards & dogs on site. Enter at own risk.”

It’s not a jokey sign; it was issued by a security company. Somewhere.

Presumably, the sign is supposed to persuade passing criminals that the day’s takings are not worth a bite, a bullet or both.

Clearly the claim is absurd.

What dry cleaner in Sydney employs 24-hour armed security guards and pays for attack dogs to keep them company? Money launderers, maybe. Dry cleaners, definitely not.

So what’s the problem?

The worst thing that could happen is that a skeptical criminal breaks in anyway.

The problem is that the sign accidentally sets a tone.

Its claim might be ludicrous, but the dry cleaner still felt the claim was worth making. And that sends an unintentional message to the reader.

The sign suggests that you’re standing in a high-crime area. (You’re not, by the way; I live in hipster HQ.)

The sign suggests this dry cleaner has been a target.

The sign makes you wonder if you and your clothes might be safer going elsewhere.

I know, I know…

I told you that you would think I’m overthinking. Here’s why I’m not…

Copywriters aren’t normal people, which is handy for you…

Normal (not copywriters) people would see the sign and not think about it.

Not consciously.

But the vibe is something your subconscious will pick up.

When you walk down Manly Corso on a Friday night and there are five police cars standing by in a pedestrianised area, do you feel safe? Or do you wonder which of the four horsemen of the apocalypse the police are expecting?

When you walk into a shop sprayed with aggressive notices — no food and drink, no dogs, no touching the goods — do you feel welcome? Or do you feel you’ve entered a hostile shopping environment — even if you have no food, no drink, no dog and no plans to touch?

Writing is words + tone

Tone and perception are essential parts of copywriting.

If you promise speed and efficiency to “time poor professionals”, your copywriting is hurting your case if you can’t make a point in fewer than 1,000 words sprinkled with a dozen flavours of jargon.

That’s not fast.

It’s not efficient.

Your reader is more time poor now.

If you promise decades of expertise, you’re hurting yourself if your blog posts offer all the insight of a paraphrased Wikipedia entry.

Last year, I reviewed the website of a doctor with a ritzy address. The promise was life-changing surgery for people with a particularly socially embarrassing condition. The words and the quality of the website generally suggested you’d be less likely to have your life changed than to be found dumped in an alley if things go wrong.

In this case, the doctor is a dedicated and genuine expert, but that didn’t stop his copywriting and web design accidentally sending an entirely different impression.

And the impression won — it was reflected in the website’s conversion rate scraping the bottom of the graph.

Today, that doctor has sparkling new copywriting supported by a sparkling design.

How’s it doing, you ask?

I’m glad you did.

The new copywriting has increased his conversion rate by 433%.

There’s something you want your readers to believe and there’s something you want them to do.

Copywriting is about using words to achieve both things. But an accident-prone copywriter can do the opposite. They can persuade your readers to believe the wrong thing and do the opposite of what you want.

Are you the victim of an accident-prone copywriter?

Your business is brilliant; your clients are thrilled; but you’ve got a lot on your plate, and reviewing your copywriting is just part of it. Put those things together and it’s easy to have a few accidents.

Sometimes all it takes is to have an external pair of eyes review your copywriting from the point of view of your ideal client. If you’d like a review of your website by a professional copywriter