So What Exactly Is Copywriting?
Tell someone you’re a copywriter, and you’ll invariably get one of these responses:
“Don’t you need a law degree for that?”
Despite being surrounded (and bombarded!) by copywriters’ handiwork every day, it’s somehow remained a super secret profession.
If you’ve heard of copywriting, chances are you conjure images of 1960s ad men, thanks to Mad Men. The truth is, copywriting is far more wide-ranging than just traditional advertising.
Let’s get to the bottom of this copywriting enigma.
WHAT IS COPYWRITING?
“the art and science of strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action.”
Let’s take a step back. What is copy?
Copy = words or text
Therefore, copywriting = writing words
But as you’ve no doubt gathered, copywriting is so much more than simply writing words.
COPYWRITING IS A CRAFT
Copywriting is not just about wordsmithing: It’s part art and part science.
The art? That’s the creativity. The ideas, the angles, the word choice, the actual act of writing.
And the science? Copywriting draws on marketing and consumer psychology, using proven techniques and formulas to motivate and drive action.
COPYWRITING MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS
As I said before, copywriting is not just about advertising. Think about copywriting as covering marketing and advertising materials.
Copywriting has nothing to do with copyright. Copyright is a legal function that assigns ownership rights to the creator of work(s). In Australia, if you create something (e.g. you write a blog post, design a logo, or write a song), you automatically have copyright on that piece of work.
WHERE YOU’LL FIND COPYWRITING
You’ll find copywriting pretty much everywhere.
Aside from advertising, here are some of the most common types of marketing and promotional materials copywriters write:
- Website pages and other web content, such as blog posts
- Sales emails, email newsletters, and email welcome sequences
- Product descriptions (on websites and product packaging)
- Direct mail (like those letters from charity or credit card offers)
- Brochures, flyers, and other printed promotional materials
- Social media content and profile bios
THE FOUNDATIONS OF GREAT COPYWRITING
So you know that copywriting seeks to drive action. But how does it do it?
Sell the benefits
Persuasive copywriting sells the benefits, not the features.
We’re all motivated by self-interest, so your writing needs to show your reader why they must care.
Don’t just try to sell the features. Explain the benefit of each feature. That is, why is each feature included? One of the easiest ways to uncover the benefits is to say “which means that…”
Let’s see it in action:
Feature: 128GB memory (in the iPhone)
“which means that…”
Benefit: You can store more of your favourite music, movies, and photos for your entertainment – without having to choose what to keep
This ties in with selling the benefits. At the heart of every product or service purchase, a buyer is looking to solve a problem they have.
If I buy new face creme, it’s because I need to restock, or I might need to buy a creme that better suits my skin. In both cases, I have a problem (just in varying degrees). In the former, my problem is that I’m running low, or I’ve run out. In the case of the latter, my problem is that my skin needs a creme that addresses particular skin type or concern.
Copywriting gets to the heart of the problem the product or service solves, and uses the problem to create desire for the solution and motivate action.
Written for the reader
Because copywriting is trying to drive action, you want to write for your reader. That means using the YOU word a lot.
YOU is a powerful word. When your reader sees that word, they’re transported into the writing.
Powerful copywriting also uses language the target audience uses. And an appealing and relatable tone of voice. You want to connect with the reader in every possible way (think: YOU, word choice, and tone).
Not only that but, effective copywriting understands what motivates the reader – and uses that motive to drive them to act. Link this motive with the problem the product or service solves, and you’ve got some big buttons to push in your copy.
Written like you speak
I can’t stress this one enough. Good copywriting sounds natural, not stilted and robotic. And the key to sounding natural is to write like you speak.
Read your piece out loud to uncover writing that is not natural.
Use power words
Copywriters use certain words, known as power words, that are proven to resonate and connect with readers.
Some of the top power words are: you, free, now, special, unique, easy, simple, and just.
Check out this list of over 700 power words you can use to give your writing more pep!
WHAT IS COPYWRITING? MYSTERY IS SOLVED
Now you know what copywriting is: the art and science of writing words that drive action!
You know where you’ll find copywriting.
And you know the foundations of great copywriting, so you can make a start on improving your copy today.