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Turning Corporate Speak into useful web copy
A way to add content to a site
mona




msg:925771
 3:27 pm on Jul 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

Iím trying to create more content for an e-commerce site. Iíve started writing an information type page for every brand name of the products we sell. Iím reading through catalogs to get most of the copy and when those arenít available the corporate web sites.

< side rant: These catalogs have now surpassed my college Ďintro into art historyí book I suffered through as truly the most painful reading Iíve ever done. end side rant >

Once Iíve read through this stuff, hereís what Iím doing with it. Iíve broken this information page into 3 parts. Iíll call the brand name of these products we sell ĎFreddyí. So this page is about ďFreddyís widgetsĒ.

Part One - Here is where I give some brief reasons why you should buy this particular name brand. After reading through all the corporate speak, Iíve tried to determine why I would buy Freddie. What makes Freddy different? Better than his competition? You get the idea. So then I write a paragraph or so explaining this. Iím trying to use very simple, un-biased, good web copy to do this.

Part Two ĖThis is where I tie Freddy and our site together, trying to use good web copy and provide links within the copy to the products.

Part Three Ė This is the section Iím leaving as corporate speak. Iím calling it ĎFrom Freddyí and then basically adding the copy straight from the catalog. If itís from the corporate site, then Iíll reword it a little.

This is the first time Iíve done something like this. What Iíd like to know isÖ

Is this an effective way to add content to my site? If not, what else would you recommend?

Do you think visitors find this useful? What else could I add on this page to make it useful?

Will the writing style contrast between part 1 and 2 vs 3 work? Will it show how our voice is different than ĎFreddy'sí voice? Or will the contrasting styles only confuse people?

When Iíve had to use copy from a corporate site, will it be considered duplicate copy from Google? Even though Iíve made a few changes and the rest of the copy on the page is different?

 

dragonlady7




msg:925772
 4:34 pm on Jul 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

It sounds like good general practice, if you have brochures that need translation to the web. i've just had to do roughly the same thing, only they wouldn't let me edit the corporate-speak too much. i've been trying to subtly tweak it so it contains more actual information.

I've been trying to steer my company away from "buzzwords" and towards "keywords". In offline marketing materials, we've traditionally been very fond of using certain (almost Dilbert-managementese) phrases to make things sound good without saying much. I've been trying to make a point that this is out of place on our website, and dilutes our keywords and phrases. We're a keyphrase-laden industry, with technical terms and acronyms everywhere. People will search for those. I want to use those as much as we can. Things like our products' names, and the names of the procedures our product (software) is meant to automate.
People are NOT going to do a Google search for buzzwords. Nobody who's looking for our product is going to type in "leveraging management potential" and then be excited when our website turns up. People just don't search like that.

So I've found that to be a major issue to contend with when web-ifying corporatese. (As an added bonus, if you strip out the buzzwords and replace them with relevant keywords, you end up with more relevant, informative copy, which I personally think does more to sell your product than glossy meaningless phrases. But that's just me.)

As far as the different "voices" contrasting, perhaps you should separate them visually as well, so that it is more apparent to the consumer that there's meant to be a difference. Like, put "Freddy's" copy into italics or a blue font or something. Try it out however you like, that's just a thought.

dragonlady7




msg:925773
 6:19 pm on Jul 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

I get an email newsletter from these people (I don't remember who they are, but some of the articles are quite good), and one of the articles is about corporate financial websites. It has not too much to do with what you're on about, but does contain some nuggets of wisdom about adapting corporate ego fluff to the web. Might be handy, might not be, but there it is.

http://www.marketingprofs.com/3/bachmann2.asp

[edited by: engine at 8:18 pm (utc) on July 1, 2003]
[edit reason] de-linked [/edit]

Jenstar




msg:925774
 3:16 pm on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

For the "From Freddy" section, if you make it clear that it is from brand company's mouth, your reader shouldn't be bothered by the fact the tone switches from the first and second part, to the third part.

Are there other ways you can make the switch clearer? Maybe use italics instead of regular? Or set the "From Freddy" into a table with a different colored (but complimentary!) background.

If people aren't completely clear that it is from Freddy and not your company, they could stumble across the switch, particularly if they then follow up to read the sections on Gina's Widgets, Harold's Widgets and Scott's Widgets too. This is when the change in tone in each piece becomes more obvious, because the reader has noticed it in each brand company page.

netcommr




msg:925775
 3:30 pm on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

1. If you want to sell a companies product, don't ask the company what to say, ask their customers what they are looking for! what do they need, what are their concerns. There's your content.

2. Get rid of the corpspeak, talk in the language of their customers. (usually laymans terms)

3. Get a microphone and read what you wrote, then listen to it. If it sound stupid it will read the same way. (and you better believe what your hearing or customers won't)

mona




msg:925776
 5:12 pm on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

dragonlady7 and Jenstar, good ideas, thanks. The designer is making a template for me this week for these pages. I'll ask him to use either the italics or different background, whatever he thinks is best.

>I've been trying to steer my company away from "buzzwords" and towards "keywords".

Yep, this is key. I refuse to have the word 'solution' in any copy I write, just to name one of my pet peeves;) And this is so much more important for the web. When people are just skimming your copy, they don't have time for that.

I used to use bold once or twice a page for the KW phrases I was targeting because I read that Google might give a little more weight to this in their algorithm. Now I still use it, but more so to help draw the readers attention to what the page is about.

> I personally think does more to sell your product than glossy meaningless phrases.

>Get rid of the corpspeak, talk in the language of their customers. (usually laymans terms)

Yep, I agree.

netcommr, one question for ya.
>If you want to sell a companies product, don't ask the company what to say, ask their customers what they are looking for! what do they need, what are their concerns. There's your content.

This sounds great. Any recommendations as to where to find this information? I went to eopinions and looked around. But most of the products we sell aren't reviewed. I've also read through 50 of the quesions that were sent by visitors to our site. Most of these questions were specific, such as 'do you carry this type of model?'. There didn't seem to be anything I could use.

dragonlady7




msg:925777
 5:22 pm on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Get a microphone and read what you wrote, then listen to it.

GOOD IDEA!
Man, I gotta try me that.
I did try reading it out loud to my boyfriend but he automatically started saying "Yes dear" at every pause before I was a page into it.
Hint to all y'all out there wondering about the secrets to healthy relationships: Don't do that.
;-)

rossH




msg:925778
 5:23 pm on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

put the corporate stuff into a graphic, lets you play with nice stylized quotation marks and such - your designer will love it

make the alt tags read whatever you want of course

you might also consider offering pdf downloads of the catalog stuff, as an "improved" way to display the corp-speak, and take it out of the site as content altogether

as for finding out what the customers want, that's a good use for your website, start putting in some soulcatchers - online questionaires (just 5 minutes and free autographed widget), subscribe to results of this survey, newsletter, so forth

Eliza_Jane




msg:925779
 5:27 pm on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

>Any recommendations as to where to find this information?

Can you actually ask some of the customers that sent you an inquiry what they would like to see on the site, or the things they are specifically looking for? I've done that in the past when someone has said "your site is awful" - I've gone back and asked for specifics.

Other options are asking the Customer Service group and/or sales people what their top 10 questions are that they get all the time (either generally or on specific products). After all, they are the ones that have to sort through whether the customer needs a Freddy widget or a Gina widget and provide the best "solution" (sorry, couldn't resist! :) )

If you have access to the log files that is another place to see if customers are being referred from search engines and if so, what terms they come in on.

mona




msg:925780
 6:02 pm on Jul 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

>consider offering pdf downloads of the catalog stuff, online questionaires (just 5 minutes and free autographed widget), subscribe to results of this survey, newsletter, so forth...
Thanks, good ideas. I'll run these by my boss at our meeting today.

>soulcatchers
I like it:)

Hello, Eliza_Jane, Welcome to Webmasterworld! [webmasterworld.com]

>"solution" (sorry, couldn't resist! :)
Ya, I set myself up for that one:)

> Can you actually ask some of the customers that sent you an inquiry...
Not the way things are set up now.

>asking the Customer Service group and/or sales people what their top 10 questions...
I like this idea. I've been wanting to make an FAQ for the site, this would be a great start.

[edited by: engine at 6:18 pm (utc) on July 2, 2003]
[edit reason] fixed url [/edit]

netcommr




msg:925781
 4:39 am on Jul 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

hey Mona,

If you don't have access to customers on the web, or even if you do. Go to the brick&morter competitor and ask them in real person. They tend to be very helpful, usually.

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