Copywriting is one of those things that people often ask me about. “Like, you’re a copyright writer?” to which I have to shake my head and explain. It’s one of those cases where homophones can make your life a living hell. But what the uninformed don’t realize is that it’s the lifeblood behind advertising.
Yes, copywriting is in fact the art of creating persuasive marketing-oriented material. Writers in this area are typically competent jacks-of-all-trades that can write confidently for many types of brands and niches. But, regardless of what they’re writing about, they need to follow one guiding light: the art of the sale. It’s much like the cast of Mad Men, only with hopefully less drinking and smoking.
Copywriting can entail things as simple as in-your-face sales, storytelling, creative writing, or anything in between and beyond. But, the final goal remains the same: to engage, entertain, inform, and direct the would-be customer towards buying. The American Artists & Writers Institute (AWAI) defines it as:
More precisely, copywriting is the process of writing persuasive marketing and promotional materials that motivate people to take some form of action, such as make a purchase, click on a link, donate to a cause, or schedule a consultation
Regardless, we could define “action” as simply getting you to part with your hard-earned cash in exchange for goods and services. In our modern attention economy, we could also consider time and views to be some form of currency as well. Let’s continue and find out why this form of writing is so important. Much like the Force, it’s all around us, yet invisible to the eye.
Copywriting: You’ve Seen It
I was just shy of calling copywriting the secret weapon of businesses, but that really would be missing the mark. When I wrote “lifeblood” before, I wasn’t being hyperbolic.
Regardless of flashy designs, colorful pictures, or multi-million-dollar productions in marketing, people often forget the most basic facts: it all starts with writing. Scripts, narratives, stories, ads, all are the brainchild of a writing team. Their content typically goes through many iterations before it’s deemed worthy of public consumption. And yet, that never really guarantees that the final product will get a warm reception. Just think of all of the major blunders that even big-name brands make every so often.
And yes, that means that copywriting is an inherently risky endeavor. Selling entails toeing a really tricky line that is definitely not for everyone; it involves a combination of knowledge about human psychology, consumer trends, empathy, creativity, and, of course, a great product. And even with all of these things on hand, there’s still a significant chance of failure. Big companies, though, can face that risk with less fear of going out of business. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can help with peace of mind.
But this doesn’t change the essential fact of the matter: copywriting is everywhere. Just think of all the places where you’ve seen obvious sales copy:
- Ads in magazines
- Web pages
- Social Media
- Ads (on TV, movies, etc.)
Starting to get the big picture? You’re being sold to all day, every day.
How Does Copywriting Work?
It’s simple. Copywriting is the art of persuasion, of gently guiding a customer or interested party towards doing something. Now, this may sound a bit like mind control when presented this way, but it’s not so sinister once you get into the details.
You can think of copywriting as making a case for a product or service. A writer may do this by singing the praises of a particular product, listing facts, a combination thereof, or by just plain-old convincing you that there’s something worth purchasing or doing. We see this online all the time, don’t we? Just think about YouTube videos asking you to subscribe, all of those “read more” buttons and prompts nudging you towards action. AWAI continues:
You can see the page has been written and designed to prompt you to take action in a variety of ways. You’re asked to “Read More,” “Get Started,” or “Follow Us” on social media. You can also “Ask a Stylist” for fashion advice. These are simple prompts we see on websites on a daily basis, and they’re all forms of persuasive copywriting. What you hear can also be copywriting in action. Television commercials, product reviews on YouTube, and even short “how-to” videos on using a product are all examples of spoken copywriting.
Salesy and Non-Salesy Language
Now, we’ve established the main goal behind copywriting, but not all copywriting is created the same. Just as there are subtle saleswomen, there are also in-your-face salesmen who just won’t quit. Sales copy often reflects this divergence in language. We often refer to this as “salesy” or “non-salesy” language.
Now, is it wrong to use salesy language? Not in the slightest. But it’s absolutely wrong to exaggerate, distort, or otherwise make any types of false claims. You know, the type of stuff that gave snake oil salespeople their deserved bad reputation.
Great writers often try to provide great information along with clear calls to action (CTAs). Some sells may call for a blunt instrument, and others for a defter touch. But, make no mistake, the end result is the same. The differences in approach will be down to mainly:
- The writer’s ability
- What niche they’re working for
- The brand’s identity and politics
- Customer type
And speaking of copywriters, who are the geniuses behind persuasive marketing?
Copywriters: Who Are They?
There’s this aura of mystery behind marketing content writers. That shroud is not entirely deserved, really, or it didn’t happen on purpose. There’s an idea that creatives are these strange beasts, that you either have creativity or you don’t. But in truth, copywriting is something everyone can do with a little practice.
Writing is a skill just like any other and, while some will excel and others won’t, anyone can improve.
But, it’s true that some writers require more formal educations, and some take to it like a fish to water. In our article about copywriting courses, we say the following:
(…)The best way to write great content is to just start writing. Copywriting requires a continuous writing flow and the possibility to write on a number of different topics. Sometimes, you may need to shift your subject focus even in a single working day. Taking a copywriting course could be the right step to empower a writer to do so. As some sources note, “copywriting requires a certain amount of experience, education, and expertise. It’s unlikely that you will land a lucrative copywriting job on your first try without learning the best practices of copywriting. Taking an online course is one way to develop the skills you need to be an effective copywriter.”
But, of course, if you’ve got copywriting needs of your own, it’s best to go with experienced professionals.
Types of Copywriting
Copywriting is incredibly varied. We mainly divide it into direct-response copywriting projects or straight-out content marketing. Direct-response copywriting can include (as per our Types of Copywriting – More Than One Option article):
- Video sales letters and fundraising letters;
- Magalogs (printed magazine-style promotions);
- Online sales pages and landing pages;
- Pay-per-click ads;
- Online or print advertorials (article-style promotions);
- Mass sales emails.
While content marketing can be divided into:
- Blog posts;
- Article pages;
- Order pages;
- Product pages;
- Social media posts;
- Case studies;
- White papers;
- News releases;
- Informational video scripts.
It’s important to know that, regardless of the pro’s qualifications, some are better at writing certain types of content than others. While copywriters typically have to deal with many writing styles and niches — sometimes even on the same day — it’s important to check out their previous experience before you give them the go-ahead for a project. It’s not always necessary to hire a specialist, but it definitely helps a lot.
That’s why it’s always important to go with professionals who have a bulky resume of varied work. Some may offer you a great bang-for-your-buck option, with the possibility of handling various tasks, others may be great at just one of the points of this list.
Who You Gonna Call?
Now, it’s safe to say that everyone needs copywriting. Businesses big and small, individuals, major corporations; everyone can enlist the help of an able copywriter who can convey their brand tone and image while helping boost sales.
In fact, this is not an if, but an absolute necessity of doing business in the digital age. Why? Because people are more sophisticated, with more access to information than ever before. That means that they’ve also become more discerning, and they don’t really like being talked down to. Scraping by just won’t cut the mustard anymore, because you’re competing for everyone’s attention.
That’s why it’s important to have writers who understand your needs and those of your audience. What’s the use of having the best product if you’re not able to market it well? Likewise, understanding the psychology of prospective buyers is an integral part of making a sale. Go on too long, or become too noticeably salesy, or make the sales focus of your content too obvious, and you risk losing big time.
That’s why I personally recommend hiring a Bunny Studio Pro to help out with your copywriting needs. Whether you have a project big or small, we take care of the A-to-Z of the whole process. We leave nothing to chance, so you can rest easy knowing you’ll have a result you can be happy to put your name on.
Why leave your results up to chance? Submit a project and hire an experienced copywriter today!