Marketing budgets can only stretch so far and, when difficult decisions have to be made, copywriting is often the task that gets delegated to the in-house marketing team. So here are seven pro copywriting tips for academic marketers.
(As a creative agency that champions messaging, this makes us feel sad inside because we know that well-crafted, expertly-written copy transforms student acquisition. HOWEVER, as mentioned above, we appreciate that difficult decisions have to be made!)
So. We asked our team of copywriters for the critical points to watch out for when putting together copy or content in-house.
Trying to write a page of copy for a business school or university is more challenging than it sounds. Return to it with fresh eyes and it’ll be littered with – previously invisible – repeated words and phrases. Every other sentence will probably begin with ‘We’, for example. Or during the editing process, sentences will move around the page and you’ll be left with repeated words or phrases (see what we did there?) within the same few lines.
Our tip is to write your copy, leave it for a while and then edit with fresh eyes. Also, switch out the notable or lengthy words that readers’ brains notice – for example, alternate between ‘international’ and ‘global’.
Too much too soon
Let’s say your business school is doing well; you’ve secured record enrolments and received some amazing testimonials. The temptation is to tell everyone about it in every piece of literature you produce – from social media to brochures to blogs.
Our advice is to hold something back for the different stages of the buying journey of your prospective students. Share your highlights, by all means. But keep a little in reserve to get those final sign-ups over the line.
As a marketer in a business school or university, you’ll already appreciate your audience, values and tone of voice. You’ll also know what you can say and what you can’t. Overthink the job at hand and you won’t get anything down on the page. Go with your gut and get writing (even if it’s bad writing). Edit and refine later.
Saying too much
The good thing about a vibrant, forward-looking educational establishment is that there’s plenty going on and lots to talk about. Sustainability, digitalisation, internationalisation, the list goes on. But do your prospective students really need to know about the minutiae? The whole story? Almost definitely not. Refine your key messages and save the details for meetings and conversations.
Selling too hard
In business, the old adage is: Always Be Closing. But when it comes to marketing, there’s a time to sell and a time to tell. Avoid brash headlines, overreaching claims and aggressive sign-up requests. Also, think about how often your Calls to Action really need to be there. Again, save the high impact messaging for when you need to convert the reader.
We work with around a dozen business schools and universities and we’ve only encountered two in-house Style Guides so far. And in the education sector, where abbreviations and complex, professional terminology is commonplace, this is an issue. Our advice is to refer to the hero pages on your website for contentious terminology, contractions and naming conventions. The find/change functionality found on most applications (Microsoft, Adobe) will make quick work of this.
Losing the audience
We’re 552 words into this article (thanks for sticking around), but we all know that the clock is ticking. Say what you’ve got to say and move on.
Bonus tip: Forgetting your Call to Action
Think you need an agency with copywriting credentials after all? Get in touch for a chat today! firstname.lastname@example.org