Unexpected Insights for the Christian Entrepreneur Pt. 6

The Necessity of Copywriting for Christian Entrepreneurs in Spiritual or Secular Businesses

“If you talk to people in a language they don’t understand, how will they know what you mean? You might as well be talking to an empty room.”1 Corinthians 14:9

Unexpected Insight part 5 was about writing for ministry purposes. I want to get back to talking about business.

One of the most important qualities of strong copy is clarity.

As a writer, you should be easy to understand, and you should attempt to make the world easier to understand through your writing. No one wants more complexity in their lives. Colin Powell is quoted as saying “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers.” Donnie Bryant says that great writers are almost always great clarifiers.

Have you ever visited a website that made absolutely no sense to you? Read a letter that confused you instead of answering your questions? How does that experience make you feel about the other party?

Yet so many businesses I know spend as little time as possible putting together their messaging. They see it as a chore to get out of the way. “Let’s get to the selling!”

But confused prospects never buy.

Weak copy doesn’t answer questions, overcome skepticism, or demonstrate value.

What would happen if prospects were smarter and better-informed just for having visited your website? How much more likely are they to trust you over the guy who just threw some words on the page? How much more likely are they to believe that you understand them? How much more likely are they to connect with you and buy from you?

You must be able to write copy in an engaging, easy to understand way. Avoid trying to impress your readers. They’re not reading your message to admire your vocabulary or sentence structure. Gene Schwartz said that if someone read an advertisement and their response was “that was a great ad,” the ad was a failure. Instead, the reader should come away with a greater appreciation for, understanding of and desire for the product and the benefits that come with it.

This isn’t poetry.

Horace Greeley said that “The best style of writing, as well as the most forcible, is the plainest.” Say what needs to be said in the most consumable way possible.

You will lose a lot of readership by using big words, convoluted sentences and ambiguous statements.

Write and speak to be understood, not to impress. Not to make yourself feel smart. The Bible says that if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle (1 Corinthians 14:8)?

Let there be no uncertainty in how you write. Business is no place for poetry or ambiguity. Clarity is of the utmost importance.

Spend the time necessary to write clearly and convincingly. You’ll never regret doing so. Or, enlist the help of someone you can trust to do a great job writing for you.

What’s the point of communicating if the reader doesn’t know what you’re saying?

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If you missed them, you can read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of this series.

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Unexpected Insights for the Christian Entrepreneur Pt. 5

The Dangers of Christian Copywriting

“…preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” 1 Corinthians 1:17 KJV

“…When I came to you…not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God…And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom…”1 Corinthians 2:1,4 KJV

Ministry is not business. As such, ministries should not “market” in the traditional sense.

Not everyone will agree with this, but I’ve yet to find any way to justify using the idea that churches and para-church organizations should be treated the same way as secular businesses.

I’m not saying that marketing is bad. I’m not saying that persuasion is evil. Actually, I hold the opposite opinion.

But you can’t get around Scripture. In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth, he says a mouthful about his preaching and his approach to ministry.

Paul was among the most educated men of his day. He was a gifted orator with a brilliant mind, and he understood people (the human condition, the heart) probably as well as anyone in history. If anyone could have utilized “excellency of speech” or the “wisdom of words” to persuade his hearers, it would have been him.

But he refused to do so.

He knew that the gospel is a demonstration of God’s power, not of the speaker’s intelligence or ability to create emotional impact. Christians must rely on the Holy Spirit to convict and teach (John 16:8, 13).

As a copywriter, I spend a lot of time learning about persuasion, and I seek to gain mastery of the English language. But as a Bible teacher, I put all of that stuff to the side (Philippians 3:6). It would be harmful for me to depend on those skills to do work only God can do by His Spirit and His Word.

All I ask is this: any copywriters who are working to grow ministries, please don’t put your trust in your skills or abilities. God will build His church (Matthew 16:18) using his method: the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3) working through men and women committed to sharing His gift of eternal life with a dying world.

P.S.  I don’t mean to imply that the words used to promote ministry should not be carefully chosen. They clearly do. Just listen to Ravi Zacharias or R.C. Sproul; these are brilliant men who can use language as skillfully as anyone on the planet. But they don’t rely on copywriting tricks, NLP or other gimmicks to get their points across. The content speaks, the audience listens and the Lord edifies.

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Read Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Unexpected Insight series.

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Quote of the Week 63

“I think that some of the direct mail I get is spoiled by the old-fashioned sin of pride…it’s all too easy for us to start to feel superior to the great multitude of readers out there. And sometimes, without really meaning to, we write down to them. I think that this shows through in the finished product and turns readers off. So when I’m working on my stuff, I try to keep in mind two things from the Good Book of Direct Response. One: Write unto others as you would have them write unto you. Two: Pride goeth before a flop. – Martin Conroy

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