If you’re a female and use Instagram, there’s a strong chance that you may have come across frank body scrub. You know the ‘grams I’m talking about: shower selfies of girls covered in coffee grinds, often accompanied with a witty caption about ‘getting dirty’ and tagged #thefrankeffect. Owned by two Melbourne copywriters, frank isn’t just well known for producing a potent coffee scrub with beautifying abilities to heal eczema, psoriasis, minimise cellulite and tone and condition the skin. frank body scrub has a marketing strategy and tone-of-voice which precedes the product itself – and it’s had the media and industry leaders all talking about it.
Crafted as a flirty, highly sexual male with a love of boobs and the female body, frank is more than just a coffee scrub – frank is a persona. A cheeky, borderline-sleazy, hypersexual persona.
And it sells. I have in fact landed work from this very blog post, simply through people searching for 'frank body copywriter'.
And that wasn't even the goal of this post!
Since the success of 'wacky packaging' (think Nudie Juices, frank and Nasty Gal), everyone wants their personality to shine through in their marketing collateral.
They want to sound like a mixture of frank, Burberry, an episode of Gilmore Girls and Seth Godin all rolled into one.
They also want their copy to be creative and simple, timeless and modern.
Why can't we have it all?
As you might have been able to guess, it’s actually quite difficult to combine this wish list of voice attributes, and create copy that ticks all of these stylistic boxes.
Not to mention, does the selling for you.
How do you be all of these things, all at once?
Truthbomb: If you really want to speak to the right audience and sell your products and services, you need to convey a clear and consistent message.
This means you need to focus on a maximum of three compatible attributes, lest your brand sound like it has multiple personality disorder.
When being clever works
As a fashion brand for party girls, Nasty Gal has an audience who appreciates a cheeky, clever and slightly aloof tone of voice. Their customers want to be a part of the "in crowd" and Nasty Gal makes them feel like they can be looped in to great taste and good times with their air of nonchalance.
This works because they know their audience, and what's likely to convert. After all, they've been at the top of their game for years, inspiring a whole movement of #girlbosses.
But what happens when you forsake clarity in favour of creativity?
When whimsy doesn't win
Although a focus on creativity and pushing the envelope worked for frank and Nasty Gal, going overboard can have the reverse effect.
Let me tell you another story.
Back in 2014, life coaches were my number one type of client. The self-help industry was booming, and so too were online businesses.
Hence, tonnes of life coaching clients for myself, available now via Skype with wisdom to impart to help you live your best life, finally!
During this time, I noticed an artistic, flowery, sparkly, hyper-descriptive copywriting style that excited with ornate language and liberal use of the exclamation mark. It was a style that was emulated by nearly almost all life coaches I found online who targeted female business-owners and entrepreneurs.
And it was a style that sold...for a while. Although it was fun to step into the shoes of the a super positive human pixie, emulating the masses does not create cut-through copy.
True, sometimes speaking to people's greatest wishes with emotive language will convert potential clients and customers.
Other times, speaking on a conceptual level may real in the masses. It's worked for Mystic Mamma, whose depth and passion had scored her over 300k followers.
Today begins the Tibetan and Chinese New Year of the Earth Dog. After an extreme Year of the Fire Rooster, which stirred our passions and ignited us to rise and mobilize into action, we now move into the grounding energy of double Earth in this New Year of the Dog. 𐄢 Integrity becomes central in all we do, as we continue to re-build a more solid foundation that is rooted and aligned with our universal values of love and respect for all. 𐄢 In this cycle we ground down and take our power back. We use discernment with what we take in and consume in all ways, be it television, social media, thoughts, attitudes, the food we eat, what we buy etc. 𐄢 Dog shows us the importance of being loyal and how that deepens our relations. We are reminded to use our bark against injustice as we team up as guardians and caretakers of our planet Earth and all that we hold sacred. 𐄢 Chinese Astrologer and doctor Narrye Caldwell says, “The inevitability of change is a fundamental principle in Chinese astrology. And the ability to skillfully adjust to continually shifting cycles, is considered to be a longevity art. Wisdom tells us, that no matter what difficulties you are facing, no matter how hopeless or frightening the situation seems, if you wait it out, a turning point will come. The important thing is to maintain your composure, and recognize the moment when appropriate action will be effective. That turning point is now." Like Sting once sang, “There is a deeper wave than this, swelling in the world. There is a deeper wave than this, listen to me girl" Full post > www.mysticmamma.com ART by #MYSTICMAMMA "Loyalty" Limited Edition Prints available
But much of time, and particularly with ecommerce websites, clarity is the key to conveying a message, not a philosophical, reflective tone.
Because digital copywriting needs to engage, to convince and convert, Yes, at times you'll need to excite, to educate on complex topics, and to invoke an emotional response through storytelling...but most importantly, you need your words to sell.
And if people have no idea what you're saying, you won't make a cent.
Artistry and Technical Competence: The Writer’s Balancing Act
In any industry, there’s a high value placed on technical competence. You could hire a great copywriter who can execute your ideas brilliants. But if they can’t demonstrate their own creative ideas, you’d either: a) replace them with a more well-rounded copywriter; or; b) keep them and have to spoon-feed them ideas.
However, if you’d hired a skilled and creative copywriter, you wouldn’t be facing this problem.
Being a creative with technical mastery often means you have to precariously balance, or shift back and forth, between an inspired, innovative approach, and a practical, formulaic method. It’s a constant tug of war between head and heart, especially if your creativity is worn like a badge of honour.
But if you're an artist, I news for your.
Get over yourself!
If you’re a creative, you know the feeling when you look back at your previous work. Cringe-worthy. When I dig up articles I wrote 9-years-ago, I try not to beat up 21-year-old Camilla too much and instead focus on how much she’s grown as a writer.
In a word, I guess you would say my writing style was flamboyant. Writing was a form of expression for myself, as it might even be for you. But with time, I realised that as a writer by profession, my writing is not always an outlet for whatever stirs my soul.
So I’ve learnt to put my thesaurus away and focus on being as clear as possible.
That’s not to say that a mechanical, sterile tone-of-voice is the only means to achieve click-throughs. Creativity and clarity can exist side-by-side in harmony…you just need to balance them out.
How to create a crystal-clear tone of voice
If you're in the business of selling wares online, particularly to an audience of hyper-connected millennials, you can't afford to lose their attention. This is especially so for writing for social media, and encouraging click-throughs from emails.
There are many ways to ensure your writing gets to the point, and fast.
But in the interest of being clear, here are just 5 tips that will help you declutter your copy and articulate your ideas more effectively.
1. Replace long, convoluted words with shorter ones
Did she utilise the spoon, or did she use the spoon? Longer words are useful if you’re trying to demonstrate your mastery of the English language, but they can also come across as pretentious and unnecessary. Unless you’re writing for a crowd of academics, ditch the fancy word if a shorter one gets the point across.
2. Short sentences are powerful (and more Instagram friendly)
We don't often think about what makes a sentence confusing, but compound sentences can be the culprit.
A compound sentence, put simply, contains more than one subject (a person or an object), or an action.
"It was late and every one had left the café except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light." - Hemingway
This is a prime example of a compound sentence, because there's a lot going on at this scene at the cafe.
While this sentence structure may work in literature, long and rambling paragraphs will confuse your audience, particularly if they're scrolling through Instagram. Stick to one-two ideas per sentence with clear connections between them, and you’ll make a more powerful impact.
3. Create flow in your writing
If there's one thing that creates confusion for your reader, it's a lack of "flow".
But what does flow mean? Is it a style? Is the order of sentences? Is it the rhythm or pace of paragraphs?
While there are a few interpretations around what "flow" actually is, the principle purpose of flow is to convey ideas in a way that aids comprehension.
Not sure you copy flows? Ask yourself:
- Does the order of this copy make chronological sense? When you're trying to convey a bit of context for an idea, it's easy to get swept up on storytelling, leaving a reader confused about what happened and when.
- Does one sentence lead to the next in a seamless fashion?
Consider these two examples:
a) It was sunny today. I went to the park. My mailman came. I tried on my dress. It didn't fit. I sent it back for free.
b) I went to the park today because it was sunny. But during that time, the mailman came and delivered my order from ASOS. I'm so glad I ordered express shopping, because I got to try on my dress before the weekend! However, it didn't fit me. Luckily I got to send it back for free!
The first example is clunky, and there's no connection between the statements.
The second sentence uses cohesive devices, which are called conjunctions. These are 'because', 'however' and 'but', which help to create connections between statements, and therefore, what we praise as "flow".
4. Use active voice, not passive voice
This is a very common literary technique which holds up well in creating compellingly clear copy.
In a nutshell, a passive voice describes something being done to someone or something. It's impersonable and doesn't create a sense of urgency.
Example: Your email will be answered by our sales team within 24 hours.
An active voice livens up your copy, indicating a clear action will be taking place soon. Active sentences also use less words, and are easier to understand.
Example: Our sales team will get back to you within 24 hours.
5. Ask questions
Are you looking to create clear and consistent copy?
Do you want to increase online sales?
Then ask questions that clearly speak to the heart of your audience's concerns.
Creating and refining a unique tone-of-voice takes time, and both an understanding of your business and your target market. You want them to say a firm "definitely!" to your products and services, not "what the?".