A few myths about what copywriters do get passed around by well-meaning business owners and other people. When you are ready to hire your first copywriter, it’ll be helpful to understand what they can or can’t do for you.
A quick aside: in the digital marketing industry, there are several different types of writers. Content writer, creative writer, SEO writer, copywriter, website writer, email writer, social media writer…truth be told, aside from a couple of very specialized fields, they all have big overlaps. To keep this article clear and succinct, I’ll use a catchall term: “copywriter.”
Defining a copywriter
(Remember, this also applies to other types of creative writers.)
Copywriting is the art of creating compelling written content that not only engages the reader but also guides them toward taking action. Depending on the needs of a business, the action can be anywhere from signing up for a newsletter to looking at a different page on the site. Copywriting can cover anything from effective sales pages to website content to blogs to catchy slogans to marketing campaigns.
Boiled down, we write
words that sell.
And that’s why good copywriters are so valuable to businesses. Without them, sales teams would struggle to find leads. Businesses would struggle to convert and retain customers.
Ok, now we’ve got that out of the way. Let’s address some common business myths and misunderstandings that revolve around copywriters.
Myth #1: Good copy sell regardless
John Donne wrote in 1624: “No man is an island.”
This also applies to businesses. You need to have a good product, a demand for this product, a marketing strategy, and many other variables that all fall into the right place at the right time to cinch a blowout sales result.
Your writer could make an awesome slogan to slap onto your product packages and craft the most compelling social media marketing campaign that garners a record-setting number of engagements, and the product still won’t sell unless the other departments also pull their weight and contribute. The design has to work. The price has to be right. Etc.
Fact: Good copy alone does not sell.
Of course, content plays a critical role in a product’s success. But it’s not the sole factor.
It’s a team effort.
Myth #2: You shouldn’t try to sell all the time
This one is complete nonsense.
To be clear, I’m not advocating selling yourself or your business like a two-bit car salesman in every single email, message, or blog post.
But! You – or your writer – should most definitely be crafting your communications with a certain goal or action in mind. It doesn’t need to be overt and in-their-face. All communications should be written with a certain image, tone, or style in mind. It’s cohesive. It’s a part of your company’s branding.
Myth #3: Just the facts, Jack
Often when people start writing for their business, they’re uncertain what to write. How to reach their audience. What does their audience want to see? In the early stages, it’s hard to figure that out. The results? Awkward, bland content that lists the features of a product.
- Cotton t-shirt, size S, M, L. Imported from India.
- 36,000-sq-ft commercial-use warehouse. Three lavatories. $1.83 /SF/Mo
- New writer. 24hr turnaround time. (I’ve seen this one – so many things wrong with it.)
There’s a different axiom that many copywriters prefer to follow:
sell the sizzle, not the steak.
Focus on the benefits of your product. How does it solve your customer’s problems or pain points? What fantasy does it fulfill?
Look at any mattress companies’ marketing campaigns as an example. Instead of highlighting the mattress’ features like size, hardness, fiber content, etc., Serta pitches “comfort any way you like it.” Customers have the power to choose.
Startup company Purple declares: “Science has spoken, see why you sleep better on a Purple mattress.” Instead of pulling “facts” out of thin air, Purple’s mattresses are backed by hard science and research. Customers can trust that they will sleep well because science is awesome. It will solve their back pain and sleepless nights.
The key is to
balance the features with creative content.
Creative marketing and factual writing are not mutually exclusive. Why? Providing this information is what helps move buyers along their journey from “awareness” to “interest” to “consideration,” which is the stage where they compare products or services’ features.
Myth 4: Clever/cute/pithy copy is king
There’s a time and place for wordplay and snappy clapbacks. They’re entertaining for your audience. But the real question is: will they sell?
Sometimes they do. Case in point:
In 2013, the Superbowl had a blackout. Oreo’s marketing team was on point and whipped up graphics for a timely tweet. “You can still dunk in the dark.”
They got incredibly lucky with that. It went viral.
This is not the norm.
In most cases, these off-cuff and clever writing tend to fall flat. It can come across as trying too hard. Copywriting is about having a conversation with your audience. About establishing a relationship. You’re writing for them. A marketing campaign isn’t the right place to flaunt $10 words and subtle turn of phrases that only the most astute, discerning reader will catch.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a distinctive flavor or style. It can be a part of your branding. It has to serve a purpose, though, and to be used on a consistent basis. It has to contribute to your business’ ultimate goal, which is to convert people into customers.
It has to make you money.
Myth #5: Copywriters just write…right?
Yes, writing is certainly a big part of what they do. But most copywriters wear many hats. They do data analysis to see how well the marketing campaigns are doing. They advise on short- and long-term marketing strategies. They create and manage editorial schedules. They work cross-department, particularly with art and sales teams. Some may even take on accounting/budgeting and managerial responsibilities.
There you have it. Five myths about copywriters (and any other types of marketing writers) that need to die.