What is Copywriting?
What is copywriting anyway?!
Copywriting is the silent, lethal assassin of the marketing and advertising world.
Copywriting helps you sell more, helps you grow your business, makes you look better, dress better, become a millionaire, and more!
Ok. All that above-business? It’s mostly fluff. But it got your attention, which is the first step in creating great copywriting.
Copywriting At Its Core
What is copywriting, then? Put simply, great copywriting is using original words to persuade or convince a consumer to buy whatever it is being sold, be it a product, service or idea. For explanatory purposes here, we’ll divide copywriting into two broad, non-exhaustive categories – short form and long-form.
Short-form copywriting often takes the following forms:
Long-form copywriting can appear as some of the following:
Whether your copy is short or long, it must convince the customer to buy your product, service or idea!
The Not-So-Secret Principles to Great Copywriting
Three main tenets anchor a terrific piece of copywriting, be it large or small.
Copywriting is all about using the right words. On any given project, a copywriter only has a certain amount of space to make their case. Those words must not only strike the notes desired by the client, but they must motivate the customer. Anything else is unnecessary.
Jargon & Hyperbole Are Not Your Friends
Most of the time, good copy is free of any jargon or unnecessary language. Of course, if you’re writing a white paper on subsurface geoengineering, relevant terms of art may be appropriate to use in that context. Otherwise, copy should be clear and make the seller’s point, while getting the customer in the mood to buy. Save the fancy-shmancy words for a thesis project.
Listen To Your Client…And Their Customers
Listening has to be a copywriter’s best skill. Great copywriting encompasses the desires of the vendor and the needs of the consumer or audience, all at once.
Here are three examples of this:
Technical Writing for a product manual:
Satisfy the seller with a professional tone and clear copy
Act as a concise manual for the customer to understand
Press Release for a public infrastructure project:
Satisfy key stakeholders by clearly conveying a project’s goals
Educate and inform the public of the project’s ability to meet its needs
Billboard copy for an environmentally-friendly automobile:
Use a series of sly billboard slogans to differentiate the seller’s brand from the competition
Cater to the young, upwardly mobile target demographic’s desire to protect the planet (while still looking cool)
What Great Copywriting Can Do For Your Business
True, great copywriting can help a business sell lots of cars or hot dogs, or cause demand for your services to soar. But great copy can do something better – tap into a customer’s humanity.
Do that, and your business may find itself with a growing number of valuable – and potentially lifelong – customers or followers.
Great copy can shift a person’s perspective with a unique take on an old story. Take this 1981 ad on gun control (second ad down on the page). The copywriter cleverly and ironically deployed one of the most iconic phrases in the American vernacular, “God Bless America,” right after listing the number of handgun deaths in the U.S. that year. Subtly twisting the meaning of one phrase can cause a titanic shift in how those words are received. That’s the mark of a great copywriter.
Create a Lasting Connection
Effective copy can forge a deep connection with people. Take this ad from Quebec’s Automobile Insurance Society. The numbers alone on the T-shirt, echoing a tombstone, with the “death date” covered by a seatbelt, speak volumes about the need to buckle up when in a car. The copy in this case – “1993-” – immediately hits the reader with how precious life is, and how it can be taken away in an instant. With this copy (yes, numbers are considered “copy”), The Insurance Society isn’t just selling auto insurance – they’re safeguarding your life.
Make A Brand Memorable
If anything, great copy plants a brand’s seed inside a consumer’s head. Take Adidas’ “Impossible is Nothing” campaign. This short bit of copy takes the oft-repeated slogan “nothing is impossible” and brilliantly turns it on its head. The ad dares consumers to buy a pair of Adidas and to literally scoff at the idea of impossibility. Adidas makes no room for the concept of “impossible” in its world. This copy (and the copywriter behind it) suggests consumers do the same.