We’ve spoken about writing your copy and messaging in a responsible way but in this blog we’re going a step further: exploring how your words can contribute to the positive impact your business is trying to make.
Often, founders overlook their copy or put it on the backburner while they focus on tasks that seem more immediately impactful. But, actually, being able to clearly communicate what you do and the difference you’re trying to make is a foundational piece of your positive impact puzzle.
It not only helps you bring in more aligned clients and customers, but it can turn your audience into champions of change too, and create a ripple effect of positive impact beyond just engaging your brand.
In this blog, we’re looking at the techniques you can use to infuse aligned impact into your copy and messaging, with the intention of maximising the meaningful change your business is trying to create in the world. Before you start writing, get clear on your impact focus and use this as your north star to guide you as you write. Let’s dive in.
Techniques for creating impactful copy
Untangle your message
One of the most common mistakes we see businesses make in the sustainability and positive impact spaces is trying to say too much, and ending up with overly complex, tangled or inaccessible messaging. This happens for a few reasons:
- As a founder, it’s pretty hard to see your business from the outside and see the clear thread in your own story and messaging.
- You might overthink what you’re trying to say and get tangled up in your own thoughts as you write.
- The language of sustainability can be dry, technical, and overwhelmed with jargon. If you’re coming from a science or technical background as a founder, then you might get caught up in this kind of language when writing your copy.
- Your business is complex! You can’t see how to distil it into a clear, simple message because there’s a lot your copy needs to capture.
The thing is: if your message is too complicated, then your audience might not understand it. And if your audience doesn’t hear your message, then they might not connect with your mission and make meaningful change or take aligned action.
The key to truly impactful messaging is to untangle your message.
Here are a couple of prompters to help you:
- Can you sum up who you are, what you do, who you do it for and what you do differently in 1–2 sentences?
- How would you explain what you do to a 5-year old?
Once you have your core message, be sure to repeat it again and again throughout your marketing so your audience absorbs it.
Tell your brand story
As well as having a clear message, your copy needs to capture your brand story.
Humans are hard-wired to connect with stories, so even when your business is complicated and technical, telling your story lets your audience wander into your world and connect deeply with the underlying mission and values that guide your work.
Storytelling helps people make sense of big ideas, so it’s a really important part of ensuring your audience understands you!
As you write, remember that your story helps to build an emotional connection with your audience, which is important for inspiring people to care and take aligned action. Explore the moments of passion, challenges overcome, and the driving force behind your mission, telling a story that not only informs but resonates with your audience on a personal and emotional level.
Try these prompters to help you structure your brand story:
- What did you do before founding your business? What was your expertise?
- What was the lightbulb moment that made you change?
- How did you transition into running your business?
- What lessons have you learned along the way?
- What’s your ‘why’? What makes you so passionate about what you do?
- What does all this mean for your client or customer?
A lot of brands make the mistake of thinking that they don’t have a story to share. But they do! Every founder does. And your audience needs to hear it to have a true connection with you and the impact you’re trying to make.
Educate your audience
This isn’t as dry as it sounds!
Infusing a clear educational piece into your messaging is a hugely effective way to increase your copy’s positive impact. It’s a piece that’s still missing from a lot of impact-focused brands’ messaging, so it’s well worth exploring if you haven’t yet.
This not only helps you attract an aligned audience by demonstrating your deeply rooted commitment to a specific impact focus, but it also has the potential to create wave after wave of people who now understand the problem and will hopefully make meaningful change and even educate others, causing a ripple effect of positive impact.
In its simplest form, educating your audience looks like:
- Clearly outlining the impact challenge your brand is focused on
- Demonstrating what your business is doing differently to help solve it
Here’s an example from Stream2Sea, which makes reef-safe sunscreen:
“Did you know an estimated 14,000 tons of chemical, non-biodegradable sunscreen are deposited into our oceans and reefs every year? Stream2Sea is the first and only brand with products that are scientifically proven safe for fish, coral larvae and our bodies.”
Stream2Sea has made education part of their overarching brand message. But you can include education in your brand story, or in the copy for your products or services – it really depends on your impact goals and your messaging strategy.
Again, keep in mind the importance of brevity and clarity when educating your audience. If your message is tangled, your audience might not understand or connect with it.
To balance out the education piece, you also need inspiration. Without inspiration, your audience might start to feel disheartened. Showing your audience the positive impact that’s already being made and making them feel like part of the story will help to inspire them to take aligned action to get more deeply involved with your impact focus.
Infusing inspiration into your copy might look like:
- Sharing your brand’s positive impact success stories (e.g. the amount of money your brand has donated to further your mission, or the projects you’ve funded, or the number of new corals that have been planted through your business, etc.)
- Including an Impact or Sustainability page, with specific and transparent information
- Using visuals and descriptive language to paint a picture of what it is you’re trying to protect or achieve (e.g. restored giant kelp forests with abundant marine life)
- Using language that makes your audience feel like part of the solution (e.g. “Help us grow our impact” or “Together, we can…”)
Be sure to lead with authenticity to ensure the positive impact stories you share are genuine and transparent.
Offer a simple next step
The final piece of the positive impact messaging puzzle is calling your audience to action.
Without a simple next step, your readers might feel overwhelmed and unsure of what they can do to help.
This might be engaging your brand (i.e. buying your product, signing up for an event or booking a call), or it might be signing a petition or making a swap. This step is wrapped up in the education piece too, as it gives your audience the information they need to make a meaningful change or take aligned action.
Whatever it is, make it clear and manageable. If your ask is too big or too vague, people are less likely to do it.
9 DOs and DON’Ts for impactful copy and messaging:
- DO be specific / DON’T be vague
- DO put your audience at the heart / DON’T make it all about you
- DO simplify / DON’T overcomplicate your copy
- DO be transparent / DON’T mislead, exaggerate or greenwash
- DO use straightforward language / DON’T overuse jargon or technical terminology
- DO write in a voice that feels true to you / DON’T try to attach a voice that doesn’t fit
- DO repeat your core message again and again / DON’T just say it once and move on
- DO think of your impact focus as a foundational part of a sustainable messaging strategy / DON’T jump on “impact” trends for the sake of it
- DO be selective / DON’T try to say everything
As a founder, you have a unique opportunity to create positive impact through your business, and your copy and messaging can maximise your efforts. By writing about your business with a clear message and story that educates, inspires and offers a simple next step, you can not only grow your business but create a ripple effect of positive impact too. Keep in mind the need for authenticity, transparency and clarity with every word, and always come back to the north star of the impact you want to make.
Estelle Hakner is a copywriter for the ocean lovers working hard to protect our big, wild blue. Combining her copywriting expertise with her deeply rooted commitment to ocean sustainability, she helps her clients untangle their story and message to grow their impact. Estelle is based in Sydney/Eora and spends her days snorkelling through kelp forests, looking for cold water to swim in, fussing over her rescue greyhound, and chasing bioluminescence.