What is copywriting?

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What is copywriting?

August 2018
Copestone blog about copywriting

Marketing copy – or content, as it is increasingly called when referring to words written for digital use – is key to successful marketing. Any organisation that needs to communicate a message, from start-ups to corporations and governments to charities, relies on written information to inform, educate and persuade its audience.

Creating this written information is the job of the professional marketing copywriter. On a basic level, anyone who can write can relate to this activity. “How hard can it be just to write a few leaflets?”

However, although most of us can ride a bike, there aren’t too many of us who are good enough to do this for a living! Here are some insights into why you might consider hiring a professional marketing copywriter to communicate your organisation’s messages to your audience.

How marketing communications seek to satisfy customer needs

The marketers among you will be familiar with Chris Fill’s DRIP model, which breaks down the purpose of marketing communications into four distinct stages: differentiate, reinforce, inform and persuade.

To engage your audience’s interest and show them how an offering meets their needs, an organisation must make it stand out from the crowd. This is achieved by reinforcing any previous messages, outlining its specific features and benefits, and encouraging the target of your message to engage through a phone conversation, online chat and so on.

The DRIP model shows the flow of information required to satisfy a customer’s needs. These are the touchpoints that the copywriter must also then fulfil when creating written content that supports a marketing campaign.

Quantifying the copywriting process

You won’t be surprised to learn that there are also models to show how the copywriting process works. Possibly the earliest was AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action), which a quick Google search advises has been in use since 1904.

While I am a little bemused by the posts I have read that bestow almost magical powers upon this concept, AIDA’s logic is pretty much what a copywriter follows when writing a piece:

  • Attention (A): The opening sentence must grab the reader's attention through what is often called a ‘hook’.
  • Interest (I): Once we have gained their interest we need to work hard to retain it and there are several devices we can use – perhaps an intriguing sub-heading or a quirky photo caption.
  • Desire (D): We then stop teasing and appeal more directly to the reader’s desires by reinforcing the positioning of the product/service in their mind. As clever marketers, we already know what our reader wants, having identified our target audience.
  • Action(A): Finally, we entreat the reader, who is now ready to be converted to a customer/user/subscriber/patient/donor, through a powerful call to action– call us, click here and so on.

Copywriter core skills: creativity and attention to detail

Of course, this sounds familiar – we are all targeted by marketing content a dozen times a day. But, just because we recognise it doesn’t mean it is easy to do.

Being a copywriter requires many skills, including a sought-after blend of creativity and accuracy, as you would expect. Confidence is important too. A good copywriter writes with authority on behalf of someone (or something) else.

We ghost write, we absorb the brand of the organisation that hires us, and we present it back to them in a form that is better than they could achieve themselves.

Adopting personas is a core copywriting skill

Copywriters are like chameleons, changing to represent whichever persona we put on. There is certainly a degree of pretence in this because we are not part of the organisation we write so convincingly and passionately about.

And this objectivity and external perspective is what many of the organisations who hire us often value the most.

If you enjoyed this blog, have a look at the other two in this three-part ‘what is’ series on copywriting, editing (to follow) and proofreading. Find us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and receive notification of our next blog.

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