WHAT IS COPYWRITING?
Copywriting is the crafting of words to convey the services, purpose, vision and values of a brand. Copywriting is used on a variety of different platforms including – brochures, posters, web pages, social media, magazines; and in both print and digital forms.
Words are powerful. Think about Nike’s ‘Just Do It’, or Skittles’ ‘Taste the Rainbow’ – only a few words communicate so much about the brand’s ethos.
THE POWER OF WORDS
The greatest orators in history have used words alone to inspire empires, to tell tales of adventure, to unite or divide. Carefully crafted words draw an audience in, appeal to their emotions, bring them on a journey and encourage them to take action.
Think about the last time you read a great book, or an engaging article or a tweet. Why did you enjoy it? It certainly wasn’t because the words were jumbled together in a random form to make up the word count. It drew you in because every word mattered. Every word took you further into the journey or story described.
“People don’t read ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.” Howard Gossage
SO, HOW CAN COPYWRITING HELP YOUR BUSINESS?
Great copy brings a brand to life and writes with the audience in mind. Rather than just throwing together some words and hoping they stick; carefully crafted copy can clearly communicate the vision and values that you are so passionate about. An audience wants to be entertained and engaged, and copywriting enables you to do this. The more they feel engaged with your content, the more likely they are to engage with you as a business.
Effective writing clarifies messages and persuades people. It emotionally engages them and pulls them in. It makes them want to be part of what you’re building. Copywriting can turn a sheet of facts and figures into a compelling piece that showcases impact, demonstrates results and builds trust. All of this can have a marked impact on your engagement and sales. The more that customers feel attracted to your business, the more likely that they are to buy from you.
Other copywriting skills also assist with this. For example, a copywriter will know the best way to introduce ‘Calls to Action’ (CTAs) into the copy, to encourage the reader to take action. People do not like to feel directly sold at, and so the CTAs need to have careful thought, to encourage the customer to find out more about you. The overall aim with this is to build trust so that your audience is inclined to engage with your product or services.
Skilled copywriting also helps your business by ensuring that there is a consistent tone across all of your communication. The tone is vital when communicating your vision and values to people. The wrong tone, or an inconsistent tone, can make people doubt what you’re saying.
There are also different techniques that specifically relate to copywriting for specific platforms. Copywriting with SEO in mind, for example, includes a few extra things to consider for the search engine algorithms.
PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF COPYWRITING
There are known psychological impacts of effective communication. A first impression is a long-lasting one in terms of how your audience views you. This is true online as much as it is in person. You may well be the best, the brightest, the most cost-effective in your market, but if you’re not communicating effectively to your potential customers, they’re likely to go to someone else.
Just because you can write, does not mean that you can write great copy. A professional copywriter will be skilled at writing persuasively. One that entertains the audience as well as appealing to their emotions.
The other factor to bear in mind when writing copy is that writing about yourself can be incredibly difficult. We meet with many businesses who know their services back to front but are struggling to communicate these to anyone else. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that what you’re saying is clear because you know your subject so well. So often, in reality, your audience has been left behind, not knowing what you’re talking about.
USING STORYTELLING IN YOUR COPYWRITING
An audience is also far more likely to connect with you if you appeal to their emotions.
Stories have been shared for thousands of years to unite people, to educate and to bring them on a journey. Brands such as Nike, Google and Charity Water use storytelling to stand out from their competitors and evoke an emotional response in their audience.
In our current communication climate, storytelling is a crucial technique for reaching out to your audience and bringing them on your journey. Stories engage the heart before the head has had a chance to catch up.
Now, this isn’t saying that your copy needs to start with ‘Once Upon a Time…’ The idea that stories are just fairy tales is a very misleading perspective. Stories are all around us. We use them to connect with people. For example, when someone asks how you are, it’s likely that you’ll tell them a story of a recent event to help illustrate how you’re feeling. We all use stories, and our business communication should be no different. For more information about the impact of storytelling, see our article on ‘The Science of Storytelling’.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou.
IT’S JUST WRITING, ISN’T IT?
It can be tempting to make the copywriting the job of a current team member simply because it’s ‘just writing’. This is an understandably attractive but costly mistake.
We have already seen that great copy can pull an audience towards your brand. The absolute opposite is true for bad copy. Poor use of words or punctuation can very quickly put someone off your copy. Once you’ve lost that first impression, it will be challenging to win them back.
As first impressions are critical – small details matter. However well written the copy is, if it contains any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, it’s likely to isolate an audience. Proofreading the text is vital before publishing.
ASK YOURSELF, ‘SO WHAT’?
When writing copy for your business, remember to ask yourself ‘so what’. It may sound like a hard question but ask yourself why it’s going to matter to your audience. If you are writing with what you want to say in mind and have not written what they want to read, your engagement is going to be low. By constantly testing your copy and asking ‘so what’ you can check with yourself that an audience will care. If in doubt, read the copy to a friend or colleague who knows nothing about what you’re writing about and ask how it made them feel. Encourage them to be honest. By checking with someone that’s not yourself, you’ll get a much more accurate sense about how your words and tone are being received and interpreted.
SO, WHAT MAKES GREAT COPY?
We’ve included three examples of brands that we think consistently use great copywriting skills in their communication.
Innocent Drinks – The team at Innocent Drinks consistently produce great copy that clearly communicates to their audience. They use accessible language and are playful. They’re consistent across all platforms, and their design and copywriting are simple, clear and attractive.
MailChimp – The team at MailChimp are clear and accessible in their communication. They know that many people are using their service for the first time and so ensure that the process is an easy one. Their copy guides the user through the process, and helpful introduces tips.
Apple– The team at Apple have consistently modelled out effective communication over the last few years. Their messages are clear. They are easy to digest. They are attractive. Apple appeal to people’s emotions. Apple writes in short, clear sentences.
Compelling copy is a fantastic tool for businesses that makes them stand out from the crowd. Rather than just presenting facts and figures about their services, weaving together a compelling picture can appeal to an audience’s emotions and increases engagement.
We Do Stories offer a range of copywriting services and training. For more information, please visit the ‘Copywriting‘ page of the website.
Creative Director of We Do Stories,
with over 15 years in the broadcast industry, producing and directing prime time television programmes, news and promotional content. Anne now oversees all of We Do Stories creative teams, insuring our content is of the highest standards and convey great stories.