Essential Skills for Mastering Copywriting
Copywriting has become so much more than writing copy. These days it encompasses storytelling, creating identities, engaging on social media and of course, converting customers.
A critical component of marketing, good copywriting makes people want to take action, while great copywriting tells stories that make people feel the need to take action. The line between good and great copywriting can be a little blurry, so we’ve put together this blog post to help keep you firmly in the ‘great’ category. If that sounds a little too hard, we can always do it for you.
1. GREAT COPYWRITERS LISTEN.
a) To their clients.
Evoking an emotional response is essential when writing effective copy, so always delve a little deeper to find out what lies below the surface. This will make a brand more human and relatable. Polished interview skills are critical when it comes to copywriting. Ask your client to explain the ‘why’ and then observe their reactions with empathy – and then let those sentiments drive your writing. This is best done in person.
For example, when we first started writing copy for Thankyou, we knew that communicating the story is what would differentiate the social enterprise from other charitable causes. As a human-run business it was just as important to share the fact that Thankyou was started from a Google search (“How to start a bottled water company”) as it was to explain the ways in which it remains accountable.
b) To their audience.
Thanks to the Internet, and particularly social media, people are able to give more feedback than ever before on what they expect from a product, service, person or event. The sooner you start listening to what the people want, the sooner you can start moulding your copy to their needs.
c) To their competitors.
Observing your competitors is one of the best ways to learn what language is working and what isn’t in your industry. Ask yourself if their successes or failures are related to their marketing, and what effect copywriting had in that process. Think about the tone of voice they use, research your audience and then adapt your tone to better suit their needs.
2. GREAT COPYWRITERS ARE SPECIFIC.
An invaluable tip for writing better copy is to learn to understand the difference between features and benefits. It’s not the features of a product that people care about, but how customers’ lives will improve when they buy something with a particular benefit. The classic example is Apple’s iPod (remember them?). Instead of saying “16GB of MP3 music files on one handy device”, Apple pushed the iPod as “1,000 songs in your pocket”.
3. GREAT COPYWRITERS READ.
As a writer, you should be voraciously reading. Fiction novels, biographies, other examples of copywriting – read whatever you can, as much as you can, as often as you can. Not only will it help expand your vocabulary, but also encourage you to adopt different perspectives, tones and writing techniques that you can incorporate into your work.
4. GREAT COPYWRITERS PRACTICE.
Consistent practice of any skill is the key to mastery, and copywriting is no exception. James Chartrand, the wordsmith behind Write Life and Men with Pens, suggests you “schedule regular, daily practice into your calendar, and put in the effort to continually improve your skills”. This will also help to reduce surplus words – e.g. changing “in order to” to just “to” – so that your copy is short, sharp and punchy.
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