What’s sticky and stands out?

A few weeks ago, I’m skimming through my inbox and I spot an email telling me that we have a couple of new websites linking back to our site. 

Curious, I follow one of the links.

I start scanning and notice that the website I'm on sounds really familiar. Kind of like I wrote it. And it turns out I did. The owner of the website had copied and pasted large paragraphs from our website, including some of our values 🤦

But, they forgot to remove a link to our contact page. Whoops!

There are 2 big things we can all learn from this experience aside from the obvious (that plagiarising other people’s work is a big no-no)—

  1. You can’t stand out by doing what everyone else is doing. When you feel like you have to copy someone else’s brand, it’s a clear sign you haven’t done enough work on your own brand. Go back to your brand strategy and find a niche you can own in your market.
  2. You’ve gotta be sticky. If you want to ‘copycat proof’ your own website words, and make them 10x more engaging and memorable in the process, you’ve gotta make them distinctive and descriptive. Which is exactly what we’re in the process of doing right now, and what today’s blog post is all about. 

No one reads websites.

No one is settling in with a cuppa to read your website copy. They’re skimming and scanning it on the run. Looking for glittering nuggets of copy that capture their attention. 

Words and phrases that are vague, diluted or that everyone has heard a million times before get tossed aside like grapes on a cheese board. Instead, make your words like the honeycomb on top of the brie wheel. Sticky and memorable.

Make your words like the honeycomb on top of the brie wheel. Sticky and memorable.

Aside from helping you to stand out, specific, unique copy also has the lovely side effect of deterring pesky copycats. Vivid details and original phrasing are too risky to recycle as their own.

How to make your copy stickier.

If you write like you talk, chances are there are some phrases that could be swapped out for something more memorable. Once you’ve written what you want to say, put on your editing hat and ask yourself the following questions.

Can you swap out the cliches?

First, spot the done-to-death phrases in your writing. These are things you hear all the time like ‘dirt cheap’, ‘dressed to kill’, ‘lighter than a feather’ ‘hopeless romantic’, or ‘tried and true’. Think about how you could say it in a fresh, new way.

For example, instead of saying ‘he had a face only a mother could love’, you could say ‘his face looked like a cross between Voldemort and Kermit the frog.’

Can you paint a more vivid picture?

Next, you want to weed out the vague and ambiguous language. Instead of forcing your audience to fill in the gaps themselves, paint a picture for them. 

For example, instead of saying ‘she was impeccably dressed’, you could say ‘We couldn’t stop ogling her pink leopard print powersuit and purple kitten heels.’ 

Or, ‘ready to get in shape?’ could be ‘ready for the look on your husband’s face when he sees you rockin’ that red bikini you bought on your honeymoon?’

Can you remove the unnecessary qualifiers and passive language?

When you soften your language using passive voice and qualifying language it dilutes your message. Don’t be afraid to have an opinion! Lookout for words like 'was' 'should be' 'has been' and 'will be'. These are indicators you're using passive voice. Instead, use active voice for a bolder message. For example, 'the lion should be avoided' and 'the pizza was eaten' are both passive. Instead, try 'avoid the lion!' or 'Kermit ate the pizza'.

Qualifiers like 'somewhat', 'more or less', 'pretty' 'fairly' 'really' and 'kind of' can also soften your message and add unnecessary noise to your sentences. For example, instead of writing 'I’m fairly certain that that we should launch the rocket', try 'we should launch the rocket.' And, you can drop the 'pretty' from 'the crab bisque was pretty delightful,' to add confidence to your message.

From colourless to catchy.

So, don’t let what happened to us, happen to you. Stand out in your industry by making your words original and memorable, not tired and soulless. Keep this post in your mind this week as you write words for your insta posts, blogs or website this week. Drop in a few sticky sentences and see how people respond! 

Oh and if you’re our copycat, I hope you’ll consider writing your own website words. Trust me, they’ll be a lot better for your brand than a dupe of anything I’ve written!

Do you consciously edit your words to make them more specific and memorable? If not, will you be making more of an effort to do this? Let me know in the comments. And, if you know someone who could benefit from this article, I’d love it if you shared it with them.

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