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  • Writer's pictureSarah Turnbull

5 Copywriting Mistakes Business Owners Make When They Write Their Own Copy

man sitting at a computer looking like he's having problems

One of the things I thought when I ran my own manufacturing business was that I knew my business better than anyone else. And it’s true, I did. But the truth is, that didn’t make me the best person to write about my business.

Nope, I should have left that to someone else! The reason? I was too close to it. I wanted to tell my audience about the things I wanted to tell them, which was different from what the audience wanted to hear.

Since selling the business and retraining as a freelance copywriter, it's something that’s smacked me between the eyes. As I talk to my business network, it’s something that resonates with them too. I see that lightbulb moment when I explain what I mean - that business owners and their audience want to hear different things!

Want to know what I mean? Read on for some of the most common copywriting mistakes that business owners make when they write their own copy…

Features versus benefits.

I bang on about this endlessly. Business owners (and believe me, I was guilty of this when I had mine), talk about features. What the product or service is, what it does etc. But if you only take one thing away from this blog today, take this… Your target audience doesn't want to hear about features, they want to hear about benefits. When you read on, it will seem so obvious, *head slap moment*.

Benefits sell

It’s that simple. Copy must tell your target audience how the product or service is going to solve their problem (whatever that problem is)... it'll make them feel better; look better; attract a new partner; give them more confidence; mend a broken heart; make them richer; give them a new lease of life - whatever it is that they're looking for.

Effective copy that'll make your audience take action is telling them how the product or service will make a positive difference, make their life better and solve their 'problems.' When you’ve got that cracked, you’re cooking on gas!

An easy way to do this is write your words out and add ‘so that’ at the end of your sentence. Then work out what the ‘so that’ is.

Insulating your home will make your home more

energy-efficient, so that you save money on heating bills.

Being energy efficient is a feature. Saving money is the benefit.

In this example, the 'problem' is that their house is cold and they're spending too much money on heating it. They want to save money. Your company can insulate their home and reduce their bills.. That's the benefit. Talk about that!

Now I'm not saying that's your headline - there's a way to structure that - but at least you've drilled down to what the benefit of your service is.

You might think it’s not that sexy or creative, and it doesn’t need to be. It needs to say how the product or service is going to make a positive difference. By doing this, you've given the audience a compelling reason to take action... That's what they want to know and will be the thing that makes them click the 'Contact Us' button.


Using jargon

The Oxford English Dictionary defines jargon as:

‘[noun] words or expressions used by a particular group that are difficult for people to understand.’

Jargon, people, does not work. Well… unless you are speaking to a very specific audience of experts or an internal audience. If you’re not, ditch the workplace jargon and keep things simple. This isn’t dumbing down; it’s using language that we all use in everyday life and words that everyone understands. Dropping the jargon makes copy flow better and means everyone understands it. Simple as.

Leading on from this, we come to another problem in copy…

Using language that complicates

Here’s another no-no! Keep things simple. Simple works. Simple flows.

Why use ‘substantiate,’ when you can use ‘prove?’ Most of us normal Joes would use ‘prove’ in everyday life, and that’s what we want to read, see or hear. So, include simple words in the copy and it will meet the audience’s need. Don’t add more complex versions of words to make copy sound ‘better.’ It won’t.

Simple writing makes you look smarter! There’s less room for confusion, and less risk of your audience switching off and going elsewhere.


Superior Best

Terminate End, finish

Operate Run, use

Procure Get

Trying to reinvent the wheel

Whilst we’d all like to be totally original and creative, copywriting isn’t actually about being creative. Copywriting is about selling. Selling is a skill and writing copy is too – there are loads of people out there who’ve already conquered the skill and done it really well.

My advice? Go out there, see what works, then modify it to work for your products or services. This isn’t plagiarism, it’s using tried and tested ideas that work. For example… see a headline that starts ‘Save 25% on your health insurance.’ Well, that’s leading with the benefit – ‘save.’ So…start your headline with a benefit, it’s a proven tactic that works!

Not giving a call to action

You need to tell your audience what you want them to do next and give them a really easy way to do it. Loads of websites, and I mean LOADS, don’t do this.

Before you start, you need to think of the ONE action you’d like the target audience to take when they read the copy. Buy now? Contact us? Download PDF? Request a demo? Keep it simple, just have one action if possible.

Once you’ve figured this out, take the audience on a journey. Lead them through your story, make a connection then tell themin what you want them to do next. Have a really clear call to action (‘CTA’) with a nice big fat button surrounded by clear white space, so they can’t miss it! If your writing has been compelling enough, they’ll be clicking to get it touch!

These are a few things to bear in mind the next time you need to write for your business. I hope you've found them useful! Build them into your copy and they'll make your writing flow better and give you better results!

How to avoid copywriting mistakes

If you’re ever stuck and want to avoid these copywriting mistakes, give me a shout, I’m here to help! I offer FREE, no-obligation website audits that highlight areas where you can make improvements to your copy - many, if not all of them, yourself.



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