What is copywriting?
If you’re not exactly sure, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. Even my dad was a little fuzzy on this and we’ve had frequent conversations about my business, clients and projects. Plus, he’s a pretty smart guy.
Before we get into it, let’s clear up something right away. Copywriting has nothing to do with copyrights. Like trademarks, copyrights are a form of legal protection that protects an author’s writings and ideas. So while copywriting can be copyrighted, they are not the same thing.
Copywriting is written content, called copy, created specifically to persuade the audience to take a specific action. In other words, copywriting is a written sales pitch.
Found practically everywhere, copywriting is part of a $2.3 trillion industry and exists in many different forms. Web sites. Brochures. Billboards. Sales letters. Magazine ads. Catalogs. Direct mail. TV and radio commercials. Social media posts. Plus, there are different types of copywriting (conversion, direct response, branding, SEO, digital, etc…)
Regardless of type, medium or delivery method, every piece of copy is written with three key rules:
Get the audience’s attention.
This can be done in a number of different ways. A catchy headline. An engaging anecdote. An intriguing open line. Take the following for example: “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”
This headline by advertising legend David Ogilvy implies that the engineering of the luxury car was so precise and exceptional that you could hear the whir of the electric clock in the dashboard over the hum of the engine. And if you’re into automobiles, this definitely hooks you in.
Communicate the message.
To do this, you need to know your audience and respect their intelligence, experience and devotion to a product or the company. By uncovering what they want, need or desire, a good copywriter can use those motivations to connect with the audience and provide them with the information or experience they feel is important.
Think of the backlash Lucasfilm faced when Darth Maul was killed off at the end of The Phantom Menace. The new villain, with his red and black facial tattoos, crown of horns and double-bladed lightsaber, was the new face of the massive marketing campaign that revitalized the Star Wars brand. And it had fanboys and fangirls really excited… until they killed him off almost immediately.
This was hugely disappointing to millions of us around the world because Lucasfilm failed to realize that we wanted a new iconic villain, not a floppy-eared frogman.
Persuade them to take action.
The ‘call to action’ is the difference between informational content and a sales pitch that will increase your revenue stream. With the exception of branding, copywriting is always about getting your audience to act. Order now. Buy now. Don’t wait. Come see. Click here.
It might be simple but getting your audience to act really is as easy as telling them to do it. And while elegant prose have their place in literature, being creative will never be more important than being persuasive.
By following the three key rules, plus knowing everything there is to know about the product or service and keeping the content tight and concise, a good writer can craft copy that connects with the specific target audience, presents arguments on why they should invest in it and convince them to do it as soon as possible.
Until the next time… May the Force be with you…