Copy for Small Business | 7 Questions Answered by an Expert


Welcome to the Digital Marketing for Small Business series.

I, Josh - founder of Hedgehog (helping small businesses to sell more online), will be interviewing channel and discipline experts to find out their key tips to help small businesses with their digital marketing. I ask 7 quick questions with the goal of giving you, the reader, a concise and simple guide to follow to get you started in each discipline or channel.

By channel, I refer to a distribution medium for your content - Google Search, Social Media, Email, etc.

By discipline, I refer to the craft that produces the content - copywriting, design, web development, user experience, and more.

Today I am interviewing Ali Berg. Ali is a veteran copywriter who has helped various Hedgehog clients to get their copy up to scratch and drive some serious results.

That’s enough of an intro from me. Let’s talk to Ali and learn about copy for small business from the expert.



What’s the first thing you do when a company approaches you to write or review their copy?


There’s a lot that comes before picking up a pen, the first being a really good brief. A good brief helps me to write exactly what you’re after, even if you don’t quite know what that is yet.


My briefs are my holy grail. They ask all the right probing questions so I can know who you want to talk to, what you want to say and how you want to say it. Then, I research like crazy (your competitors, your target market, your industry).


Only after all of that, do I start writing.



What are 3 key things that make the most impact for a company’s copy?


  1. Put the reader first. Talk to their dreams, hopes and fears. Apple doesn’t sell technology; they sell a lifestyle.

  2. Never be happy with a first draft. As David Ogilvy said, ‘I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor.’

  3. Know what your goal is. If you want your audience to give you their email address, write to this. Write your call to action first and cut out all the fluff that sidetracks from it.


What’s the #1 mistake you see businesses make with their copy?


I often see businesses sell services rather than a benefit (Josh: read more in Hedgehog’s blog post on why brands tell stories, not specifics). For example, if you sell project management software for entrepreneurs, what you’re actually selling is saving time.


What’s your most consistent copy recommendation across your clients?


Use an active voice. It sells much better than a passive one. For example, the active sentence “We have helped over 200 people” is much stronger than the passive way of saying it: “Over 200 people have been helped by our software.”


What’s one thing that any business can do today to check their copy?


Look through all your copy and delete fluff words. In particular, the word ‘that’. For example, “This is the best copy tip that I’ve ever read.” can just be, “This is the best copy tip I’ve ever read.”


Tell us a copy strategy you’ve used that had a great result.


One of my very first creative directors told me that when writing any piece of copy, from an eDM to a billboard to T&Cs, I should start with a ‘Dear Kate.’ I would rub it out at the end, but that way I would know that I was writing for the benefit of a real-life customer, not just for the purpose of answering a brief. To this day, I always start my copy like this.


What’s your favourite paid and free tool for copy?


Paid: Grammarly.com - Compose bold, clear, mistake-free copy. Much better than simple spell check.


Free: Theasuarus.com – Seriously underrated.


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Hedgehog is run by Josh. Josh helps small businesses to sell more online with detailed advice, planning and management. Learn more here.


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