It’s the end of the first year since ChatGPT and other AI tools exploded and went mainstream. It was going to be the end of dull copy.
For many small businesses, it seemed like the perfect answer. It was simple, and it was free. For some things, they’re brilliant tools.
But not infallible.
If you’ve ever asked for an image involving hands or faces, you might have discovered some shortcomings (count the fingers top right in this one). It’s helped but not solved the challenges for many small businesses for copy and content.
One year on, here’s the things that are still most challenging.
Crafting captivating website copy to attract more customers
SEO strategies, fancy user experiences—essential, yes, but not enough. The metric that matters? Attracting the right people, not just more people. To nail this, you’ve got to write for them.
Get cosy with your audience.
Know their desires, fears, and what makes them tick. Social media stalking might help, but so does understanding their cultural influences. What are they reading and watching? Where do they go and spend their time and money? You need to build up that knowledge.
Making compelling content
Features and benefits are fine, but they don’t light fires.
Emotion does. We watch the news for facts. You might think we want quiz shows for the facts, but it’s really all about the drama, the human rollercoaster of emotions.
Think less about the ‘what’ and more about the ‘why.’ Stories are your best friends here. Explore the seven story frameworks (I recently shared these) to inject life into your content.
Creating emails that get opened and actioned
300 billion emails. Every single day.
Up from 144 billion in 2012.
And how many do we open?
Because it’s simple to dash off an email and press send, then we do. But rubbish in, rubbish out. The best thing I ever heard about writing email newsletters? The vital part of them is the letter part. Write for one person the way you’d write a letter to a friend.
You’d take the time to make it enjoyable. You’d know them well enough to know what they might be interested in outside of just the things you do. It should be a conversation starter, not just you shouting through their letterbox.
Help me sound more like Oatly
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this. It’s the new version of “make us sound like Innocent”.
But here’s the rub: mimicking them doesn’t make you them. Oatly’s voice is rooted in their entire brand ethos. Find your own – authenticity trumps mimicry.
As the youngsters say, you need to do you.
Is AI helping?
Yes and no.
I’ve written before about smart ways to use it, and in that way, it can definitely help small business owners.
There are still a couple of challenges that remain.
Putting in the right prompt, with the right information and the right requested outputs, is just the start. If you’re using cheat sheets that you’ve seen, then remember many other people are using them too.
When everyone asks the same question, everyone gets the same answer. Produces the same content. Which eventually AI will scrape.
Producing more of the same answers. There will be a blandifying of answers and content.
The other challenge is taking the first answer. If you’re going to use AI, then refine, refine and refine.
Trust me, it’s what great copywriters do. Killing your darlings is hard, but even Shakespeare didn’t publish his first draft.
Not as fast as we thought
Whether you’re briefing a copywriter or AI, the inputs hugely sway the quality of the outputs. If you don’t have the time to work on the refining stage, then maybe 2024 is the time to go old school.
There’s a reason copywriters are still here.
What’s been your biggest content challenge this year? What are you going to do differently next year?