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In the great world of advertising and communication, it seems that there has always been a little confusion about what exactly is a copywriter.
A copywriter is not a writer. We don’t write prose, poems or novels. We must get used to having no ego, (or very little), writing for others and getting hardly any recognition for our work. No, “copywriter” doesn’t mean we “copy” what writers write. And for those who are still in the dark about what we do, it has nothing to do with copyright law either.
So…What does a copywriter do?
We write marketing content, among a lot of other things. We obviously write but we also do research, interviews, video scripts, editing, and proofreading. We manage projects, plan and implement marketing campaigns. While we all have our own style of writing, the number 1 aim is to communicate about what “somebody” else has to say… and this somebody is YOUR BRAND.
Using the power of words
If a picture is worth a thousand words, well, one word can inspire a thousand people. Words have the power to trigger emotions and encourage actions. Think “Just do it”. This world-famous slogan, created in 1988 at an advertising agency meeting, is still just as powerful thirty years later. The "Just Do It" campaign allowed Nike to grow its share in the sport-shoes business from 18% to 43%, representing a whopping $9.2 billion in worldwide sales. In short, we use words to create magic.
We tell a story
Everyone loves (and remembers) a good story. Storytelling is one of the most engaging forms of copy. It draws people into their imagination, stirs their feelings, brings tears or laughter. When a brand is linked to a good story, it creates an immediate bond with the consumers, who are able to associate it with emotional aspects. In return, they will be far more receptive to the message and eager to try out the product. In brief, a good story is powerful, it works and it sells. The challenge, of course, is to have a good story. The trick is simple, we must select a story that’s clearly relevant to the message we want to get across. However, if the story is irrelevant, the strategy will fall flat.
When we talk to our audience, we need to give them good reasons to spend their money. We can’t just make them believe that their lives will be so much better just by getting a new water heater or skimmed milk. While features are appreciated, benefits are always the number one priority. We stick to what’s important and give real information that is valuable to the consumer. If the information is relevant and informative, the message will get across.
We entertain (at least, we try)
We constantly have to keep in mind that if our audience is bored, they won’t read our copy… (you’re still reading, right?). Thus it’s important to avoid overlong descriptions like the plague, going into too much detail, getting off track or skimping on the good parts. If we manage to be funny, it’s even better. Funny people have a charm about them and are always popular, even if they look like a squashed toad. The most boring product can be seriously amped up with that one line of clever copy that will bring a smile on faces.
But above else, we sell!
No matter how creative we want to be, at the end of the day, we are paid to sell a product. David Ogilvy (1911-1999) founded Ogilvy & Mather on the belief that the sheer function of advertising is to sell. The ultimate goal is not to be winning gold awards for being ultra creative but to sell. Like Ogilvy always said, “we sell or else.”
Our challenge is to attract your attention. We can’t shout “Hello! We have something brilliant for you!”… So instead, we need to find the right words to say and to share things with you, and yes, we do hope it’s going to make your life better. (Mind you, a new water heater is going to make your shower-time wonderful and skimmed milk will keep you slim :P)
Anne Gachet for Quantum.
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