25th October 2017 Claire Hawes

7 gruesome copywriting mistakes most businesses make

Does death become your marketing copy? I’ve listed the 7 most ghastly copywriting mistakes that businesses make. And how to correct them.


Want to be in with a ghost of a chance of boosting enquiries? Then might I suggest you stop making these gruesome copywriting mistakes?

Be warned. If you don’t, you can be sure the spectre of your copywriting mistakes will come back to haunt you.

1. You haven’t fleshed out who you are writing for

Know that the simple act of starting your marketing copy, ‘Dear Claire’ is not personalising it.

Think about where you are when you read websites, blog posts, emails and so on.

Are you flicking through a magazine or standing in a stadium full of people all reading the same thing?

Or are you sitting behind a tablet, mobile device or desktop computer?

Be aware that your inbox and your use of desktops and devices is personal.

So if you are writing marketing copy, don’t write for the masses.
Write with your ideal customer in mind.

Do this by imagining you are standing in front of your customer and having a conversation. Talk to your customer in a way that is personal and conversational.

2. You’ve murdered your message because you failed to research

Make no bones about it, if you haven’t taken the time to understand what motivates your reader, it’ll be unlikely to fill in your form or pick up the phone to you.

To make your messages relevant, do your research to understand what the benefits of your products and services mean for your readers.

Theodore Levitt once said: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

Of course, a good copywriter will dig a little deeper and find out for what reason you want that quarter-inch hole.

The devil’s in the detail.

3. Your headlines have failed to put a spell on your readers

Advertising legend David Ogilvy told us: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.”

No matter what you’re writing, you need to be aware that although 8 out of 10 people will read your headline copy, only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.

Headlines determine whether or not your copy gets read.

So spend time on writing headlines that are wickedly good.

4. You’re too scared to get to the point

Weasel words, when appropriately used make powerful marketing statements.

“Carlsberg. Probably the best lager in the world”.

Conversely, you’ll dilute your messages with the inappropriate use of ambiguous weasel words.

What is a weasel word?

Author Stewart Chaplin initially coined the term “weasel words” in a short story titled “Stained Glass Political Platform.”

“Weasel words suck all the life out of the words next to them, just as a weasel sucks an egg and leaves the shell.”

Later on, US President Theodore Roosevelt popularised awareness of “weasel word” usage in a speech.

To show confidence in your product and service offerings, replace ambiguous “weasel words” such as ‘could’ & ‘may’ with a promise such as ‘you will get.’

5. Your frightful use of words is frankly scaring your readers off

When you talk to customers on the phone, do you put them on their defences with your marketing drivel? Or discombobulate them with jargon? I didn’t think so.

Then why do it online or in print?

Write in plain English. You’ll get your message across a lot more successfully if your copy is sincere and easy to read.

6. You’ve made a monster mash of your paragraphs

Do you unnerve your audience with dense, indigestible paragraphs?

Do you bury your message in a multitude of unnecessary words?

Make your paragraphs easy to scan and read. Break them up and keep them to a maximum of three lines.

7. You want me to respond to your call to action? That’s witch-ful thinking

It’s decision time. I’m nervously hovering my mouse over your call to action.

Do you reassure me by outlining the value I’ll get from taking the next step?

  • “Start getting ROI from your web copy today.”

Or do you make me think and worry about what is going to happen if I take action with your vague writing:

  • “Click here.”
  • “Submit.”
  • “Buy now.”

Give your audience the confidence they need to take action. Spell out the benefits of taking the next step.. At the same time try to dispel perceived risk. Do this with clear, concise and specific copy.

To sum up

Correct these mistakes and you can expect to receive some spook-tacular results.

So what are you waiting for?

And finally

If you would like help writing persuasive communications, then do get in touch with this ghost ‘copy’ writer. You’ll be surprised at how spine tingly straightforward writing can grab your audience’s attention.

Claire Hawes, copywriter and owner of The Content BoutiqueAbout Claire Hawes

Claire Hawes is a marketing communications copywriter. She enjoys writing engaging copy that helps businesses to get noticed and attract enquiries. Claire’s experience mainly lies in the business to business sector. Her clients include both businesses and digital marketing agencies.

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