I love Advent Calendars. As a kid, my brother and I anxiously awaited the candy my mom gave each of us after opening one of the calendar’s 24 daily windows. Will it be a caramel or a butterscotch or a Hershey’s kiss? We didn’t know, but we knew it would be something good.
With this “something good” in mind, we—the copywriting team at MarketSmiths—created an Advent Calendar of our own. It doesn’t issue candy, but it does have 24 content writing tips, arranged in categories from holiday- to style- and structure-centric, that are guaranteed to up your marketing game.
Open one a day, now through Christmas, and have a safe and happy holiday season!
On Writing for the Holidays
December 1 – Don’t Make Assumptions
Be sure to write content that incorporates all of the holidays—Hannukkah, Kwanza, etc. (Speaking of which, Happy Hannukkah and Happy Mawlid el-Nabi!) Christmas is everywhere, but many consumers honor other traditions. Acknowledging those tradition engenders good will and increases positive brand affiliation.
December 2 – Use Surprising Language
Switch up your adjectives and active verbs. This month, as an example, include holiday-centric language like jingle, shine, and share.
December 3 – Write As a Unique Narrator
Write from unique points of view – as an elf, as Rudolph, as the mistletoe that really wants you to give a kiss beneath it. For inspiration, look to Everything Is Alive, a fun podcast that broadcasts interviews with inanimate objects.
December 4 – Lean In to Nostalgia
A 2015 Nielsen study showed that 59% of shoppers prefer to buy new products from brands that are familiar to them. It also showed that brands and products that inspire higher emotional intensity receive three times as much word of mouth as their less emotional counterparts. Lean into this nostalgia, particularly during the holidays. It will yield dividends.
On Structuring Your Copy
December 5 – Start with Facts
Consumers are savvy and don’t want to spend hours searching for the specifics of your product—what it does, how much it costs, where they can buy it, etc. Get the facts of your product on the page before you start crafting your product’s message. Everything follows from the facts.
December 6 – Keep It Simple
Consumers have a short attention span. Former Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile wrote in a 2014 Time.com article that 55% of web users spend less than 15 seconds on a web page. Don’t waste your 15 seconds with flowery language and meandering sentences. Hit your message hard, then do it again.
December 7 – Keep It Short
If you can say it in five words, find a way to say it in four. With this in mind, word economy + editing = copywriting success.
December 8 – Make It Visually Appealing
Text has a flow. Keep yours interesting and scannable by varying it with bold, italics, and underlining; headings and subheadings; indented paragraphs; and visual cues like arrows guiding readers to buttons and forms.
December 9 – Spend Time On Headlines
A 2016 study showed that 59% of readers share stories without actually clicking on the headline to open and read the story. To put it another way: Headlines are [almost] everything. They may only be 6 to 10 words, but those 6 to 10 words matter… a lot. Take your time writing, editing, and refining your headlines.
December 10 – Spend Time Crafting Subject Lines
A recent study showed that 69% of email recipients report email as Spam based on the subject line. Avoid this by highlighting the most interesting thing about your email in the subject line and focusing on what would motivate you to open it.
On Engaging Your Audience
December 11 – Write for the Right Audience
Who is the “right audience?” Do your research and you’ll know.
December 12 – Go Super Niche
Don’t be afraid to write for a segment or niche within your larger target audience. Content that speaks to an audience’s unique needs—or the unique needs of a specific audience segment—makes readers feel seen and validated. That translates to brand loyalty and increased sales.
December 13 – Avoid Stereotypes in Content Writing
If you’re targeting a particular demographic—say, acculturated Hispanic millennials—avoid cliches about Latinos (i.e. they’re “spicy,” they’re “Spanish-speaking,” they weren’t born here). Subscribing to the myths about your readers will cause them to tune out, and they will tell their friends and family to do the same.
December 14 – In Healthcare Copywriting, Follow the 3S Rule
Be supportive, sympathetic, and strong. Acknowledge the needs your reader, who could be a patient or a caretaker, is facing, and provide information and assurance that those needs will be met.
On Developing Style & Voice
December 15 – Skip the Formalities
You don’t always have to follow your eighth grade English teacher’s rules. In copywriting, grammar and syntax are suggestions versus laws—blasphemy, I know! Writing conversationally—using language and sentence rhythms that feel casual and approachable—makes readers feel comfortable, and when readers are comfortable, they’re more likely to engage with you.
December 16 – Make It Personal
Tell subscribers about you—your company, its values, and the people that comprise its staff. Do this by using pronouns like we, you, and us. These invite readers to become part of your community.
December 17 – Be Authentic
Authenticity is a key component in marketing: telling “authentic” brand stories; touting “authentic” customer reviews; posting to social media in an “authentic” voice. In short, don’t follow trends or parrot successful competitors. Be you, and trust that this will resonate.
December 18 – Infuse with Fun
Once your product’s differentiators are laid out and you’ve established a basic framework for your message, add some emotional resonance. This resonance could be humor or a tug at the heartstrings—anything that makes your copywriting memorable.
December 19 – Align with Your Outlet
Consider where your content will be published—Facebook, your website, a lifestyle magazine?—and craft copy that wraps to that outlet’s framework. Facebook content will be short and attention-grabbing; your website’s content will be service- and specifications-driven; a magazine ad or advertorial should match the tone of the adjacent pages/section and the magazine’s overall voice.
December 20 – Match Your Voice to Your Product / Brand Identity
Is your product techie? If yes, your copy will lean towards serious. Is your product recreational? If yes, keep things light and fun. Moosejaw, an outdoor equipment retailer, is a great example. Everything Moosejaw does—from blog copy and CTA’s to product descriptions and headlines—matches its playful point of view.
December 21 – Own Your Bias
If your campaign includes blogs and advertorials, be sure to reveal this and own your bias. Marketing content that acknowledges its partiality while providing added value engenders respect and brand loyalty among consumers.
December 22 – Sync Your Text with Your Images
Consumers respond to brand messaging that presents a uniform purpose, tone, and voice. This happens when copy and images align. The result is a one-two punch that resonates with consumers visually and verbally, thus inspiring participation, purchase, and loyalty.
On Copywriting Tools & Tricks
December 23 – Build a Swipe File and Use It
A swipe file is a collection of ads, emails, branded content, and other copywriting samples you love or that performed well. Store them digitally and refer to them when you’ve got writer’s block. They can kickstart your creativity.
December 24 – Get Comfy with SEO
If you haven’t already, now is the time to school yourself in SEO. If Google doesn’t like your title and description, your reader won’t have the chance to like your story (because they’ll never see it).
December 25 – Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year! Take the day off. You’ve earned it.
To make your marketing content sparkle, jingle, and shine, contact Marketsmiths today.