A way with words

22 May, 2009
With National Craft Bakers' Week fast approaching, David Grieve tells you how to communicate your involvement and gain maximum impact through effective copywriting
Page 22 

As craft bakers, along with other independent retailers, you may be feeling the pinch. Cost-cutting is important and, at times like these, it seems an easy option to stop spending time or money on marketing and publicity. But this would be a mistake. Your customers, the consumers, are also feeling vulnerable and uncertain of what lies ahead, so now is the time to communicate with them through all means available. You must reassure them that they still get the best value for money and quality from their local craft baker.

That is why National Craft Bakers' Week (NCBW) comes at a perfect time. This new initiative provides an ideal opportunity to increase your publicity. The twin aims of NCBW are to keep your existing customers coming back for more and to get new customers through your door. You should use the point-of-sale material available and exploit the publicity being generated to launch your own initiatives. The campaign will generate much-needed publicity for craft bakers nationwide, by stressing their importance to the local community, which, let's face it, is your target market.

There is absolutely no doubt that effective communication with your market will help grow your business. You need to be telling people what you are doing because you cannot assume that they will take the trouble to find out for themselves - they won't! Start trying some of the following techniques and see what works for you.

One major advantage of being able to talk to your customers is that you can ask them if they saw the piece in the local paper, for example. Other methods are measurable because the respondent needs to bring in the voucher or flyer enabling you to determine a response rate. Once you have decided on your method of communi-cation (see panel), you then need to decide what to say and how to say it. There are two golden rules:

== 1. Keep it simple ==

All copywriting should be kept simple. The aim is for the customer to read and understand your proposition instantly. If they can't, then the chances are they will move on. If they can, they will make an informed decision whether to take advantage of it or not. Whatever you are selling, simple language will always get the message over more effectively - however tempting it is to make it more flowery.

== 2. Write for your market ==

You have to put yourselves in your customers' shoes when you write to them. In the case of craft bakers, your market is the general public, so you have to write in a way they will all understand. Think of how they view your products and why they buy them and write accordingly. Their view is very different from yours as a craft baker.

Finally, make sure someone proofreads what you write. You should do your utmost never to print anything with mistakes or ambiguities in and it is very difficult to proofread your own work.

With the ease of use of modern computers and printers, you could produce these sorts of ideas in-house. If you or someone in your organisation is good with words, then give it a go. Alternatively, involve a copywriter or marketing agency to get you started. Whatever you do, make sure you get involved in National Craft Bakers' Week. The UK baking industry does not often get much positive publicity, so make the most of this opportunity.

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=== Copywrites and copywrongs ===

Do

1. Use short sentences and paragraphs. They are easier to read. People are less likely to trip over short sentences and lose their place. This is important because if they get confused by what is written, they probably won't bother to work it out.

2. Always sell benefits. What is the benefit to the reader? People buy when they understand how the item benefits them. It could be as simple as "our triple sandwich will keep you going until teatime". Or there could be more technical, health-orientated or financial benefits.

3. Use attention-grabbing words. There are plenty of words that encourage people to read on. Look at the high street around you or at adverts in magazines and newspapers. Free, now, sale, offer, trust, safe, today, you, new, discover, special, exclusive.....the list goes on!

4. Include a call to action. This means that the reader should be clear what you want them to do, such as visit the shop! Look at the window sticker for the National Craft Bakers' Week. The call to action is clear: "come on in and buy".

5. Use testimonials where relevant. These are genuine quotes from satisfied customers recommending your goods or service. Always attribute them. If you make them anonymous, people won't believe them.

Don't

1. Don't assume knowledge on the part of your market that they may not have. If they don't understand what you have written, then they will stop reading.

2. Don't use jargon. This is where you really have to put yourself in your customers' shoes. They may well not understand about Chorleywood or proving or even morning goods. Keep it simple.

3. Refrain from utilising polysyllabic syntax when a diminutive alternative will suffice. Or to put it another way, don't use long words when short ones will do!

4. Don't use clichés. Generally people want to read things they have not read before. So avoid "at the end of the day, you'd have to go a long way for this once in a lifetime chance".

5. Don't ask a question if the answer is either indifference or not what you want. So you would be safe with "Do you want to eat the tastiest doughnuts in town?" but possibly not with "Are you looking for vegetarian sausage rolls?" Most people won't be.

? David Grieve is a freelance copywriter, running Northern Prospect Copywriting, and has worked with the baking industry for more than 20 years.

david@northernprospect.co.uk

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=== Methods of communicating ===

In the craft retail environment, you have an instant opportunity to communicate with your customers through your friendly and knowledgeable shop staff. This should never be undervalued. But what else can you do? For a start, learn from those around you. Have a good look at your local supermarket, because there are a lot of ideas in there you could adapt.

l Point of sale: everything in your display must have a name and a price. Any special offers should be highlighted on posters or display cards on the counter. Even if the customer doesn't take advantage of the offer, at least they know that you run promotions. Use the National Craft Bakers' Week point-of-sale material. It is bright and colourful and the public will recognise it as the publicity kicks in.

l Flyers/vouchers: offer your customers something to encourage repeat purchases. This could simply be an offer leaflet handed over to each customer making a purchase to use on their next visit. It could also promote a new line or range.

l Direct mail: you could target households in your geographic area with a special offer sheet. You might not like receiving direct mail, but the fact you still get it proves that it works!

l Local media: if you have a newsworthy event, then let everyone know about it, either by a paid advertisement or by submitting a press release to gain free publicity.

l Newsletters: produce a regular newsletter giving customers information about what you are doing and new services and products you are offering. You could also add value by giving information such as basic tricks of the trade or recipe ideas.





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