An informative blog post about copywriting on a copywriter’s website. Surely there’s no ulterior motive here, right? Okay, okay…you got me. But out of my low cunning comes this wonderful, comprehensive article on the benefits of copywriting, and what it actually means. That’s a pretty good deal, don’t you think? Enjoy.
Definition: Copywriting is writing copy for the purpose of advertising or marketing. Copywriters are sly, sneaky creatures, a bit like Tyrion Lannister or Gollum. Their copy is crafted to persuade readers and influence them into making a decision – usually making you a great deal of money.
People are naturally visual creatures. Whether it’s a well-composed photograph, the sleek design of a product, or a masterful painting, we are more easily impressed by that which we can instantly process. Written content, as a result of its nature, suffers.
Ironically, it’s also the most important element in marketing a product or service. Creative copy surprises people with its ingenuity, ensuring your product sticks in people’s minds. Articulate copy connects with your readers, using a tone unique to your business. A professional copywriter can offer this, and more. Here are some of the key values of hiring one for your business:
A great deal of website copy looks something like this:
“We provide a 100% guaranteed success rate with our de-worming service. The reputation of ‘National De-Wormers Ltd’ is of the utmost importance, and we will strive to succeed. At National De-Wormers Ltd, we are results-oriented, and focus on efficient and effective solutions to every client.”
‘National De-Wormers Ltd‘ is a figment of my imagination. If they were a real ‘de-worming’ service, however, they’d be losing out on a lot of business. Why? Because they fail to connect with their audience. So many businesses overlook copywriting. They take on this hilarious ‘sales voice’, using outlandish phrases such as “100% guaranteed success rate” or “we are results-oriented”.
It’s the sort of material you’d expect from a snake oil salesman. This creates a disconnect between your business and your audience – people reading this sort of infallible, weak copy will think “what on earth does that mean?” or “well…can you prove that?”. Some more crappy copywriting examples.
Great copy is direct and no-nonsense; no vague, bullshit sales language. It focuses on the problem that your product or service can solve, using a unique, often personable tone. Great copy connects with your audience. Take Trello – the organisational platform – as an example:Isn’t it just beautiful? In under 50 words, Trello explain precisely what their service does. They empathise with your existing problems (‘lengthy emails’, ‘clunky software’) and how they can solve those problems (‘everything about your project in a single glance’). Their conversational tone also helps to establish rapport – almost as if Trello is one of your friends simply giving you a recommendation.
A professional copywriter will get rid of the ‘I’s’ and We’s’, and focus on the ‘You’s’ – You have this problem – here’s your solution. All of in a concise, direct manner. A little bit of personality-infused writing never hurts in connecting with your audience, either!
Good copywriters tend to be fairly intelligent, problem-solving folks who have a wide variety of industry experience. When they take on your project, they will have a completely unique, fresh perspective. While you struggle with your stale, lifeless copy, they can use their creativity to invigorate it with life and personality.
Because you’re so immersed in your business, it can be difficult to see the woods for the trees. Having a professional’s outside perspective can be invaluable – a copywriter can ask questions like ‘what problems is your product/service solving?’, ‘what is your overall vision and purpose as a company?’ or ‘who is your target audience?’. Through a professional copywriter’s creative process, your goals and vision as a company can become more defined and perceptible.
Search engine optimisation…social media marketing…shrouds of obscurity surround these terms. Gone are the days of garishly key-word stuffed websites. If you create key-word stuffed content, not only will you repulse your readers, you’ll provoke the ire of Google itself, who may drop you from search results completely. In 2013, Google launched its new Hummingbird search algorithm. Google now rewards useful, relevant content more than ever.
A good copywriter knows how to subtly orient copy towards SEO without jeopardising the content’s quality. They realise – unlike many – that they’re trying to win over their readers, not a search engine. Why seduce a robot when you can seduce a person? (maybe we should ask Japan that question…).
A great copywriter uses their creativity and knowledge to craft clever, entertaining copy that gains exposure by its own merits. The ultimate example of this is when content ‘goes viral’. People spread and share content that amuses, surprises or entertains them – often via social media. Take Pebble, for example:
Despite being in competition with technology giants Apple Inc., Pebble – a fairly new company focused on affordable smartwatches – still managed to beat the Kickstarter record, receiving over $20 million for their ‘Pebble Time’ campaign. Their appeal lies in their transparent, personable approach, and their copywriting – which is quirky, humorous and straightforward – plays an important role in that.
Copywriting is, at its heart, marketing. And marketing has an alarming amount of things in common with one thing – seduction. Subtle, creative copy seduces your readers. Like Trello’s conversational approach, or Pebble’s quirky humour, it suspends the disbelief that the copy is trying to sell you anything at all. As Petyr Baelish in Game of Thrones tells his hired prostitutes, “men want to forget that they paid for it”. A crude example, perhaps, but the comparison holds true all the same. If your content allows your readers to forget the fact that you’re selling to them, it has done its job well. Persuasive copy usually:
– Focuses on your reader’s problems in an empathetic, relatable way
– Uses word choice and sentence structure to convey passion and create impact
– Uses social proof to increase legitimacy
– Communicates value in a ‘no-bullshit‘ manner
– Indicates how your product/service is the solution to their problem
…And a good copywriter should be able to achieve this. While the untrained copywriter creates ‘over the top’ sales copy comparable to a ‘bull in a china shop’ – destroying any suspended disbelief, the expert copywriter crafts copy that is subtly seductive (and doesn’t break your valuable china…silly novice copywriters).
This might sound like a skimpy reason, but it certainly isn’t. Communication is, surprisingly, a fairly rare and desired skill to have – just try to remember how many times ‘good communication skills required’ was listed on a job description.
Because their profession is – by its very nature – communication, they will be a joy to work with. A good copywriter will express themselves with clarity and precision. They will be able to exactly follow your instructions and your outlines, and know what questions to ask to obtain information vital to the task at hand. Because they work with so many clients and industries, their knowledge will be both broad and deep, making sure that they can speak competently on a range of topics.
“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.” -John C. Maxwell
At the end of the day…copywriting is like any other skill. Would you try to design and program a complex website with little experience? Probably not. If you value your business and its success, understanding when to delegate is extremely important. Copywriting is the same – the values of a professional copywriter are numerous. And they will almost certainly do a better job than you would yourself.
Why not try one out? My schedule is free, for now… *wink*.