Is your web copy like a stage show?

An Inspector CallsWatching Stephen Daldry’s iconic stage show ‘An Inspector Calls’ at the incomparable Theatre Royal, Brighton, it truly had it all…

The production of J B Priestley’s moral thriller had me hooked from the start. The rising curtain unveiled a scaled-up Edwardian dolls house looking down on a misty wasteland in war-torn Britain – a brilliant way to highlight how out of touch high-society were to 1940s poverty and suffering.

Mesmerised from five rows in, I was enthralled by Priestley’s message filtering through every scene. The voiceless maid Edna spoke volumes with her eyes darting daggers at her self-important employers.

Later, the dramatic collapse of the house as the Inspector left the stage was a reminder that metaphorical glass buildings we hide in can easily be shattered.

It was a roller-coaster of emotion too with gasp-out-loud moments, and then quieter poignant ones which reached out to hold our hands…

In the end, this powerful production made me think differently about a play I’d taught for many years as an English teacher… Now THAT is really something.

What is the real story?

Best of all, the play stayed with me long after.  And as I returned to the car park elated by such a dazzling performance, Priestley’s warning was etched in every homeless person’s face I saw huddled against shopfronts, trying desperately to stay warm from the freezing winds.

The society Priestley warned us about in 1945 was here, on the streets of Britain… It wasn’t just a make-believe play. It was real.


Yet, the production did its job – to connect with the audience, to make them think.

Priestley I’m sure would have been elated (35 years on from his death in 1984) that his words could still reach out to people. Whether global societies have learnt the lessons of the past is another story though…

How to make people listen

What I loved about this play is that it reminded me about what matters when we are trying to persuade people – whether you are a business owner, teacher or whoever.

If you run a business, your web copy has to hit the right note right away. Or else you’ve lost them. No time to waste then. Aim to:

1. Have a clear message – and repeat. Essential if you want your audience to ‘understand’ what you offer. Keep it simple with clear language too.

2. Speak to people through your copy. If you just talk about yourself, with dreaded ‘we’ sentences spattered across your website, don’t expect your audience to notice you.

Trigger a human response by speaking to people direct – and they’ll listen.

You know that already, right?

3. Solve the pain. Every person who lands on your site has a problem they want solving. What are their pain points? How does your service or product solve them?

Base your copy on this, visitors will think you care about their needs. They will also trust you more because of it.

While accolades and award-winning titles might impress, most people just want their problems solving. Be who they need.


This 75 year old play had something fresh and important to say because of how the modern actors and director presented it. It felt radical; words written in the 1940s had a fresh – and still relevant – voice.

Make that happen in your copy. And if there are 100 competitors in your town selling the same service, make yours different.

Say something new. Don’t sound like a cardboard cut out full of business jargon. It leaves people cold.  Instead, be bold about being human…

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Don’t bother with a website without doing this first

I’ve worked in the communication industry for ever. First as a youngster struggling to make my way in the world, then as an English teacher, and now as a writer. In reality, I remain all three.

At every life landmark, words have mattered. And yet, for many, it can be the hardest thing in the world to make oneself heard – or to say what’s worth listening to.

As a teenager, it was easier for me to keep quiet amidst the chaos engulfing me. Yet what I learnt was how crucial it was to listen – to really listen. Today, that matters more than ever…

Starting a career in teaching wasn’t easy for the shy girl who preferred to listen and not shout. Again, words taught me that you can’t talk at or down to anyone – least of all teenagers. So I listened – and kids heard.

Say something that matters

As a writer, words are my daily diet. For them to ‘taste’ appealing,  they have to have a voice and – importantly – connect.

Because if they don’t, they’re worthless. With an allergy to robotic corporate speak, I’d not be the writer for you if you want to sound like everyone else.

The copy I prefer to serve is fresh, enriched with emotion. Yet to work out what will stir the senses, I must first decipher which words will mean the most. Again, I start by listening, then looking at life through a prospect’s eyes.

But here’s the thing. When writing any web copy, marketing campaign or blog to showcase your talent, the sole purpose is to connect with people. Not with a search engine, but with real people.

Does your website copy do that? Honesty counts.

You’ll find the answers if you ask the right questions

For anyone to bother to stop and listen to you, your words have to resonate. To work out what they are, know your audience inside out. What are their needs, dreams, worries and fears? What makes them tick? What keeps them up at night? What makes them happy?

Only when you work out what is relevant to them will your words stand a chance of being heard. And remember: people who hotfoot it to your website from surfing online are a different audience to those who arrive at a landing page from a marketing campaign or Facebook link.

That’s why you need a system that reflects where different people have come from and make sure your copy – every word – helps them get to the next level.

Until you do any of this, there’s no point in writing any copy online…

Make them want more

So here’s my advice. Whatever is on your ‘menu,’ work at making your words palatable. Make them easy to digest, so they satisfy – leaving your audience wanting more…

Now that really would be the icing on the cake. If you fancy a slice, get in touch.


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How important is the truth?

David Ogilvy: ‘The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife’

Ogilvy’s timeless words 50 years ago still ring true today. The truth matters. The truth has always mattered.

With social media abalze with a blur of political truths, half-truths and lies, it can be hard to distinguish what’s real and what’s fiction.

Take President Trump. A ‘Marmite’ President if ever there was one…

Trump’s ‘heart-on-the-sleeve’ tweets have divided opinion. Some admire his open, direct language. Others are incensed by his ‘shoot first’ tweets drenched in supposition.

The outpouring of horror to his non fact-checked tweeting simply proves that people dislike being deceived – by public servants or anyone.

Make every word count

In business, too, it matters that you invest in getting your words right. That means the copy on your website, social media profiles, articles, blogs, marketing literature.

Without doubt, it’s a question of authenticity, of integrity. Lose these precious commodities, you lose trust. What’s that worth to you?

Words of wisdom:

  • Never make claims you can’t prove
  • Assume people are smart, not stupid
  • Show, don’t just ‘tell’
  • Sync words and actions – do what you say
  • Be true to yourself

In business, politics or life in general, you can’t win ‘em all. What can make the difference is when your words resonate with people for the right reasons…

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