Whether you’re an established healthcare communications agency or a biotech start-up, copywriting is key. Why? Because it puts your company’s values into words and builds loyalty. When it’s good, copywriting tells people what you do. But great copywriting goes further, converting prospects into clients and clients into brand advocates.

If this sounds a little complicated, then don’t worry. The most successful copywriting techniques work across industries. Here are five (and a half) tips to help take your copy from good to great.

1. Build a story around your audience

Copywriting is storytelling. According to Andy Maslen, author of Persuasive Copywriting, your clients are the hero in your story. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling education in the form of a disease awareness campaign, a new medical device or marketing services. What matters is that the hero always wins. So, tell a story built around your target audience. Weave a tale about how your organisation can make their life easier, highlighting your business’ unique value in order to answer the key question: why should clients, investors, partners, etc work with you?

2. Put your values first

Secondly, whatever stories you tell, they should be founded on your values as a company. In his book Influence, social scientist Robert Cialidini says that companies—like people—tend to live up to the values they put down in writing. Consider what your organisation holds most dear and make that a central tenet of your writing. If you’re a biopharma, perhaps integrity and patient centricity are key. If you create consumer health tech products, maybe focus on notions of mindfulness, play and learning. Foregrounding your values results in better copy and helps you stay true to your brand.

3. Create trust from the get-go

Cialdini’s book also outlines the “principles of persuasion.” One is reciprocity: people are more likely to do something for you if you do something for them first. You can bring this into play by offering educational materials or portal access in exchange for email addresses at the top of the marketing funnel. Building trust at the early stages of the interaction creates loyalty. Also, think about credibility in your industry. Reviews from peers or experts can be a great tool here, so if you have them, use a smattering of testimonials (but don’t overdo it).

4. Keep it conversational

Now the nuts and bolts. Your copy shouldn’t read like a terms and conditions page—it should be direct and conversational. Sure, you’re audiences want to know what you’re selling. But they should also know that there are real, live people behind your products and services. Use active verbs to encourage your audience to connect with you (whether that means newsletter signups, social engagement or impressions). And write in a style that fits your audience: if you are talking to chief medical officers, you should probably be a little more technical. If you’re working on patient advocacy, keep it digestible and encouraging.

5. Target, target, target

Not every piece of copy is for a general audience. Once you’ve pinned down your story and your values (and put them into words), break down your audience into targeted groups. Build rapport with each group while staying true to your values. How? By using shared interests (yes, your company needs interests, too!) to communicate the long-term value that you bring to clients’ lives. By meeting your clients where they are, you are creating copy that is valuable as well as informational.

5½. Be concise!

And whomever you’re talking to: keep it short and sweet!

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