Do you write your own real estate marketing copy? Many do, for reasons ranging from budget constraints to not having experienced the value that professionally written copy can bring to their business.
And that’s fine. You can learn how to do an acceptable job if you spend some time studying the psychology of advertising, read ezines about marketing, and take advantage of the “do and don’t” lists that copywriters offer all over the Internet.
Then if you take the time to really craft your copy, you’ll probably see some good results.
But there’s one set of roadblocks that can trip you up, even if you’ve been working hard at learning the psychological end of advertising.
Those roadblocks are grammar, spelling, and word usage.
The truth is, many people who are brilliant at what they do are not very good at grammar, spelling and word usage. Those subjects aren’t important to their work – at least they weren’t important until it came time to write an ad, an email, a blog post, or a marketing letter.
To make matters worse, the lessons most people remember from grammar classes in high school or college are likely to be the ones that should be ignored when writing marketing copy.
For instance, you probably learned never to start a sentence with the words “but” or “and.” And those are words that copywriters use all the time to create a good flow from one sentence to the next. It works, because it sounds like real conversation.
Beware of Word’s Grammar Checker
Smart people know when they don’t know something, and that’s why people turn to their Word program to help them out with spelling and grammar. Unfortunately, using that program can mess up your message.
For one thing, it doesn’t know what you mean. So if you write “I can’t here you,” it won’t change it to “I can’t hear you.”
For another thing, it will advise you to change from conversational speech to academic speech. It will take a word like “can’t” and tell you to change it to “can not.” And you know that the meaning of those two words can be worlds apart.
If your child asks you to take him to the ice cream store and you say “I can’t do that right now,” it sounds far different than if you say “I can not do that right now.” The second sentence sounds almost angry because the emphasis lands on “not.”
The same will happen if you change isn’t, hasn’t, won’t, that’s, I’ll, she’ll, don’t, or any of the other common contractions that we use in conversation. When you change them, the meaning changes, and that’s not good. Or I should say, that is not good.
Academic speech has a place in the academic world – but it has no place in advertising copy targeted to non-academic readers.
Sometimes Word does something even worse than destroying the conversational tone of your copy. Sometimes it is just plain wrong.
For instance, the other day I was writing copy for a real estate coach. The sub-header in the copy read: “Who is Angela and why can she help you?”
Word wanted me to change that sentence to “Who are Angela and why can she help you? A sentence like that can stop a prospect dead in his tracks – and destroy your entire message.
I suppose that the program picked up the word “and” after the name and assumed that I was writing about two people. (Do you know anyone named “why?”)
But what if I hadn’t known better and had taken Word’s advice to change the sentence? My client would have corrected the error. She also would have started looking for a new copywriter.
Failing to proofread – or failing to get someone else to proofread for you.
If you’re not sure of your skills, find a proofreader. You may have someone in your family or your circle of friends who can read your copy and find any errors you miss. If not, you can find someone on line at a site like guru.com.
A proofreader is always a good idea, because even if you’re a whiz at grammar, you could miss a typographical error. And… a separate set of eyes will help you make sure your copy conveys the message clearly. Ask your proofreader to point out any spots that he or she doesn’t understand clearly and any places that seem “bumpy” when reading. You want that copy to flow smoothly.
The next mistake is handing your advertising copy over to someone who has neither the time nor the expertise to write it.
Here in our small town, business people often just make some notes about what the ad should convey and then hand it over to the ladies in the newspaper office. What a shame!
The advertisers assume that because those ladies work at selling ad space, they know how to write a convincing ad. The truth is, they’re nice women, but they haven’t studied marketing. And even if they were marketing experts, they can’t spare the time it would take for them to create a compelling message for every one of their advertisers.
That’s why most of the ads in our local newspaper look alike – and why not one of them offers a “reason why” we should choose one business over another. But the advertisers can’t complain, because they got the ad writing service for free.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net