Brochure Copy v Web Copy: same, same but different
As an Australian copywriter, one of the most common questions I field from potential clients is whether I can write their brochure copy and then they can just cut and paste that on to their website (or vice versa).
It seems there is a misconception out there that all copy is equal. But it is not.
While recycling brochure copy into website copy seems to be an attractive (and cheaper) option, unfortunately it’s not that simple for two very important reasons:
People read web copy in a different way than they read brochure copy
Web copy and brochure copy serve different purposes.
Let’s tackle these issues first.
Brochure Copy v Web Copy
When someone picks up a brochure, they usually read it from the first line to the last (unless it is so boring that you lose them along the way). Websites, however, are not linear. A visitor can land on any page on your site and from there go to any other page. So the copy on each page needs to be self-contained and make sense in what is otherwise an information vacuum. Also, studies have shown that visitors will scan, rather that read, copy on a website. In fact, one Neilsen survey showed that, at best, they read about 28 per cent of the words on any web page.
So this means that headings, dot points, and bold emphasis are far more important on the web than they are on a brochure.
As to the purpose of each piece of marketing collateral, a brochures tend to be far more overt sales pitches than websites. People are used to brochures as a marketing tool, but what they want from a website is to be informed, educated and gently led through your sales funnel. They want to know that they can trust you to deliver the product or service they are looking for.
And that is before we even consider Search Engine Optimisation.
So, back to the original question: Can you just cut and paste your brochure on to your webpage? Not really. But you can use the content of one to inform the other.
Style and tone
It is important that your business voice stays consistent. Not only does your written style need to stay the same, but the overall tone must be uniform. Otherwise, you are prone to confuse your target audience. Let’s say, for example, your ideal client is a middle-aged white businessman. He sees your website, written in a professional and formal tone, so he downloads a brochure, which is all young and funky and hip. So he decides that you are obviously not pitching to him, and goes away. The same could be said for a young creative type who sees your brochure first before checking out your site.
Because people scan rather than read the web, you will probably need to add headings, subheads and dot points to any brochure copy you want to repurpose for the web. You might also need to play around with where the copy will go – perhaps you might have some text in boxes, or on a sidebar. While other text from your brochure may belong on an entirely different web page. And if you are going from web to brochure, you may need to gather information from different spots on your site.
Supplement and complement
There is no point repeating yourself on both your site and your brochure. They should complement each other, adding extra detail where required. Your website might expand on a DL brochure’s copy, but on the other hand, you might need to cut some of the 8-page A4 brochure faff before transcribing to the site. Think of them as the Yin and Yang of marketing – opposite, but interconnected and interdependent.
Sales pitch v Call to Action
While your website is a marketing tool, it needs to be less “salesy” than a brochure. So replace the hard sales pitch with strategic calls to action inviting people to take the next step. Which may be to “shop now” or “request a quote”, or perhaps just to read the next page.
At this point you might be thinking “Well, of course she says I can’t just cut and paste. After all, she is a copywriter and needs to earn a living.” And I can see where you are coming from.
This is why I much prefer to develop an ongoing, long-term relationship with my clients because that way, I can better understand their business needs. In the long run, this saves them money and me time. After all, it is much quicker and easier for me – or any other professional copywriter – to repurpose any content when we have thorough knowledge of our client, their target audience and their industry and competitors.
If you run a business, and you agree that long-term relationship will benefit both of us, please feel free to contact me.
’til next time