‘I don’t need a copywriter. My wife’s a real stickler for grammar and punctuation.’
Yes, it’s true. Someone said this to me just a year or so ago.
Have you noticed? Almost everyone thinks they’re a good driver. It’s a bit the same with English. Everyone – OK, not everyone – but many people think they can write well. But – there’s a hell of a difference between putting one word in front of another and writing in a way that’s clear, concise and compelling. In other words, writing English that achieves what you want you want it to achieve.
This is me when I have a crack at DIY. It’s also why I’m barred from doing it. My ‘it’ll do’ is likely to lower the value of our house by at least 25%!
It’s the same with copywriting. Sure, you can have a go yourself but – but a touch of tough love coming up here – your copy will never be anywhere near as good as that which a professional copywriter will write for you.
Think how long it takes you to plan, write, and re-write your own copy.
The chances are it will, in spite of your best efforts, sound flat-footed, stiff and formal – about as engaging as a date with a blobfish with haliotosis.
So – in the end, did you really save yourself any time and hassle?
And just think – how many extra clients would you have come your way with professionally written copy?
It’s odd (and a source of considerable dismay to professional copywriters) how the value of words in business, and the skill required to craft them effectively, so often goes unappreciated. Yes – we copywriters feel unloved.
Our products (words) and our skill (putting them in the right order) are the sad, neglected, Cinderella of marketing.
Web copy – just an afterthought
Ask any web designer. They take on a new client. At the initial meeting, this client is so excited at the prospect of owning a new website. They talk in animated fashion, about the graphics and the overall look of the site. They dream of how its user-friendly functionality will soon have new customers beating a path to their inbox.
Fast forward a month or two and the web designer presents the client with their shiny new website and declares, ‘There you are! That’s the design finished. All you have to do now is add the copy – you know, ‘words’.’
The client’s interest visibly wanes. He glances at his watch and mutters something about setting off to avoid the rush-hour traffic.
For so many business owners, well-written copy is just an afterthought, not to be taken seriously; an aspect of their new website that will somehow, magically, look after itself. Some clients, having been presented with their copy-less website, simply slide it to the bottom of their to-do list, where it lies, for weeks, for months, sometimes years, gathering dust.
Good copy does the heavy lifting
Visually engaging web design is critical – if your site is to grab and keep the attention of the visitor, this is a must.
The design might be attractive, the imagery sublime, the website structure well-conceived – but here’s what is so often ignored. Important as they are, these elements are a beautiful, essential canvas for that vital ingredient called ‘words’.
Well-sourced, imaginatively collated, arranged and formatted words will…
– grab your potential clients’ attention
– keep them on your website
– persuade them to engage with your website
– convince them to place an order, send an email or pick up the phone
It’s your web page content that does the heavy lifting.
In short, your words get the job done.
So, what is good copy?
Is it lovingly-constructed lengthy sentences worthy of Jane Austen or Charles Dickens?
Is good copy long, ‘professional-sounding’ words?
Does good copy slavishly follow the rules of grammar?
You’ll be unsurprised to learn that the answer to these questions is an emphatic ‘no’.
Words make stuff happen
I’ll ask the question again. What is good copy?
Good copy is … copy that does the job. Whatever that job might be.
– Persuading potential clients why they should pay for your services
– Convincing a nation to cast aside all common sense and vote for you
– Leaving a note for the milkman, requesting that he stop sleeping with your wife.
Use words well and you’ll give yourself the best chance of getting people to do what you want them to do.
I love my job. For me, working with words is a joy – second only to beating my four-year-old grandson at arm wrestling and following the mighty Northampton Town football club.
Words are wonderful. Understanding how powerful they are – how to make them dance to your tune – is a craft that can be enormously satisfying.
Let’s take Cinderella to the ball
Traditionally, copywriting is the least appreciated of the marketing functions. You might say it’s the Cinderella of marketing. Don’t make the mistake of leaving her scrubbing the scullery floor. Take her to the ball. Then marvel as she transforms into the lovely dancing princess we all know she can be!
- The Cinderella of marketing - February 3, 2021
- Writing your own website copy – preparation is all - September 29, 2020