What does a copywriter do?
Business Writing That Sells. Part 3
I’ve been a professional writer since 1998 and as Editor for The Business Show and Business Startup, I have worked with literally thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs to improve their content marketing. As a freelance copywriter specialising in content marketing, I meet and talk with many entrepreneurs, start-up founders and owners of SMEs on a regular basis. I will share some of my secrets and tricks of the trade with you here. Today, we look at what you can learn from a good copywriter to grow your business.
Q: What does a copywriter do?
A: They use words to make more money for your business.
As long ago as 1904, archetypal copywriter John E Kennedy described copywriting as “Salesmanship in print”. More than a century later and that description is still every bit as true as the day it was first written. The only difference is that a copywriter’s words are now more likely to be published onscreen than in print.
Copywriting is all about using the right words, to say the right thing, to the right people, to get the right response. Being a copywriter is to be a professional persuader. The difference between a salesperson and a copywriter is that it’s so much harder to evaluate the return on investment in terms of numbers – or in other words, sales. Effective copy can lead directly to sales, but it’s more likely to succeed as an influencer, where those foundations can be built upon by a sales professional, a promotional offer or a marketing call to action.
So what’s the difference between copywriting and that report, essay or dissertation you were so proud of? This time, nobody has to read it. You have to convince your reader to engage with your writing – and by extension, your brand. You’d better make it interesting! Whether you want to be entertaining or informative, just remember to provide value to your readers. And never forget that your readers are also your prospects. Your writing doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it exists to serve your business objectives. That definitely does NOT mean you should dump a sales hook at the end of every piece of content, but you should bear in mind what you want it to achieve.
One of my clients’ most frequent objectives is to better articulate their brand. I’m often given a vague customer demographic and what the business offers, but I’m rarely told why those customers want to buy the product or service. Why would any customer want to spend their money with you? The answer is usually found by talking to the founder, CEO or MD and finding out about their values and beliefs. More often than not, the business is closely aligned with these and that helps me to determine the brand identity. The person in question usually can’t put this into words because ‘it’s just how things are’. It’s normal to them. What they don’t realise is that it isn’t ‘normal’ for everyone and that communicating a strong brand message is an important convincer in winning new business from like-minded people.
Human beings have always been tribal – just look at football fans and band T-shirts for evidence this continues into the 21st Century. People like to belong and if your proposition helps them to identify with your brand, then you are much more likely to win their business. Consumers are fatigued by traditional marketing that shouts ‘BUY MY STUFF!’ But at heart, your customers are still every bit as tribal as they have ever been. Are you in touch with them?
The copywriter acts as a conduit between the company and its potential customers. Part translator, part salesperson, the copywriter distils ideas into words. They are imagineers. Copywriters not only need imagination to create interesting ideas, but they also need craft skill to capture those ideas in the form of words that appeal to their readers.
And with the advent of the internet and social media, copywriters now explore the power of memes; memory devices that spread words and ideas from brain to brain. In the words of veteran ad man, Robin Wright, “The role of the copywriter today is about the idea, which could even be wordless.”
Next: Know Your Audience
If you find the series – or any of the articles in it – useful, please share them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. I’d really appreciate it, thanks. If you need professional copywriting for anything from your new web copy to marketing collateral and press releases, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how I could help your business.