show don't tell

Show, don’t tell is the most common advice for fiction writers. It’s also an excellent – and often overlooked – tool for business copywriting.

Consider the company that claims to be a leader in its market. At best, an unsupported statement like this gets a dismissive shrug from the reader. At worst, it suggests the company is anything but. Does it mean they’re in the top three? Top ten? Which market? The UK? The world? Vagueness  reduces credibility.

In business copywriting, showing is the answer

The only way to convince with statements like this is to show that they’re true. State your market position, your share, your growth rate. Be clear which countries or regions you’re talking about. If you’re writing an annual report, set out who your competitors are and how you’re differentiated from them. Showing helps the reader understand your business and generates trust.

The same approach applies to all the other adjectives that companies use – innovative, values-led, sustainable, passionate, committed. If you can’t show us that they’re true, we’re much less likely to believe you.

Some of these claims, such as those about values, defy statistical evidence. For these, you’ll need to use case studies. But make sure the examples you use are really representative of your business. The outside world might not know any different but your employees will, and they’ll judge you for it.

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Photo by Mirko Tobias Schaefer