Good business web writers write for the market, not for themselves.
That’s the point I tried to get across to a former colleague, who has a long history of reporting for various publications. He took exception to my most recent blog entry about ‘plain talk’, in which I stated, it’s important for web writers to put the flowery terms and egos away, and genuinely cater to websites’ audiences.
“Why dummy down my copywriting and limit my prose for others?” was the point he repeatedly made. To churn out his best work, he insisted, he must write for himself.
I respect his points, but speaking specifically about web writing for business, I don’t agree with his approach.
When you’re writing web copy for business, you are assembling the right words and messages to:
- Attract and qualify targeted consumers
- Engage visitors by catering to their emotional needs
- Give visitors relevant information to help them to logically justify their decisions
- Influence your visitors to make a desired action (i.e. make purchase)
- Reassure visitors they made the right decision
Writing for the target audience — and the desired action — is in the best interest of the client’s business.
Some copywriters actually write for the client, but that can be counter-productive. We’ve had several clients ask us to put their value statements on the homepage. But we’re quick to explain online visitors don’t want to read, “We’re dedicated to providing (insert generic speech here).” Potential clients want to know what you can do for them and what kind of experience they can anticipate.
It’s much like the many cases I know of where web designers created worthless website intros because misinformed clients requested them. Instead, web designers should educate clients on why this tactic is ineffective, and a waste of time and money.
If you’re writing poetry or want to be the next Bob Dylan, certainly, write for yourself. Writing for yourself is, after all, romantic and more satisfying for most writers. However, in the business realm, it isn’t in the client’s best interest.
Write for the market, not for yourself.