Top 10 trade secrets of financial copywriters
We reveal everything you need to know about financial copywriting
Is there a particular art to copywriting for the business and financial sectors? We asked one of our financial copywriters to spill the beans. Her tips may surprise you.
1) Research, research and research again
It’s no secret that, as a financial copywriter, you’ll need to research your material before you write. But don’t stick to just one or two sources.
The best financial copywriters gather seven times more information than they actually use.
Start your search including the name of your most trusted source publication, for example, ‘new personal tax allowance Telegraph’ to find an article with the necessary basic information. Then check out six more sources to make sure the information is consistent, and gather up other gems you could include.
If this feels laborious, remember that you’ll learn loads from the research you don’t use, and if you keep all your research documents, with links, you can use spare information for other articles.
2) Read the Financial Times every day
You’ll know what’s going on at a big-picture level in the world and be able to identify market trends. Keep an eye on other publications such as The Economist, The Guardian, The Telegraph and Money Week.
Follow their Twitter feeds – it’s easy to click on a relevant article to read on the bus home.
3) Ask for source material
Ideally, a subject matter expert should supply their financial copywriter with source material. If they haven’t, ask. They may be sitting on exactly what you need and it will save you research time.
Even with source material from an expert, it’s good practice to check it against other sources for a bigger, more interesting picture.
4) Listen to your subject matter experts.
A good financial copywriter will always listen to their subject matter experts so that they understand what those experts want to communicate. The experts may be keen to get a subject across, but are worried it is too complicated.
Sometimes they are too close to the material to be able to simplify it, which is where the financial copywriter comes in.
5) Play the ‘bewildered everyman/woman’
If you can’t understand a topic, your readership won’t be able to either. Don’t be afraid to ask your subject matter experts even the most basic questions, and be prepared to persist so that you are absolutely clear what you are conveying.
Then write up the topic as simply and understandably as you can.
6) Demystify complicated financial concepts
The CEO or finance director will understand the complexities of finance, so don’t write for them. Write instead for the client, journalist or A-level economics student who stumbles across your article.
A good financial copywriter explains concepts in plain language and makes them fresh and relevant. So much financial copy is dense and boring that yours will stand out if it is lively and interesting.
7) Pose specific questions your readership may ask or worry about.
Developments in the world of business and finance inevitably have knock-on effects, so try to think ahead about whom they affect and how. Instead of ‘How will Brexit affect trade?’ (yawn) pose the specific question: ‘If Brexit happens, what does it mean for the steel industry?’
Then explore the causes of the British steel crisis, what the EU can and cannot do, and the impact of Chinese steel imports upon UK jobs – a much more interesting article.
8) Use an arresting headline
A canny financial copywriter uses three strategies to create a standout headline:
i) a simplification of the issue
ii) a development
iii) a benefit – what’s in it for you?
Look at these deconstructed headlines:
|5 reasons why||a stock market collapse||could be good for your business|
|6 pain-free ways||to pay off your mortgage||years earlier|
|9 tips for||using your mobile||to cut your household bills|
|5 ways||The Budget||may affect your pension|
9) Look in the body copy for a great headline
If you’re struggling to find a great headline, write the body copy first. Rather than wasting precious writing time agonising over the title, plough on with the main part of the article.
Often you’ll find the best headline buried within it once you've finished.
10) Don’t underestimate radio
Radio is a great resource. You can do other things while it’s on in the background. There are the obvious news and analysis programmes such as The Bottom Line, but sometimes material can come from unexpected programmes.
Recently, Desert Island Discs featured John Timpson, CEO of Timpson’s, the high-street key-cutting and shoe repair business. Would he be an interesting castaway? He was one of the most fascinating.
Basing his life and business on giving people second chances, 10% of Timpson’s employees are ex-prisoners, every employee gets their birthday off and all he asks of them is to “look the part and put the money in the till”.
He and his wife fostered 90 children. For the financial copywriter tasked with writing a piece on ‘a business with purpose’, Timpson’s was the perfect example. Inspiration came at 11.15 on a Sunday morning.
If you would like to know more about the financial copywriting services offered by Love Letters then please contact us here.
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