In a world where products, services, and information are just a click away. Copywriting is the art of attracting and persuading your potential customers.
It’s a funny thing, though. The world seems to have forgotten what good copywriting is in favor of other terms like content writing, brand writing, and even advertising writing (ah yes, the eternal debate: which is better “copy” or “advertising?”).
But I’m here to show you that copywriting deserves only one name: Copywriting. It may seem self-serving, but if we can agree on this definition for our craft, then we can move forward with the confidence to discuss and debate our profession with a level of clarity.
This article will give you a comprehensive overview of just what exactly copywriting is and how it differs from other types of writing.
So grab your favorite tea or coffee, pull up your chair, and let’s get started! But, first, let’s go back for one moment to the question I asked before:
What Does Copywriting Mean?
Copywriting is a form of advertising that involves content marketing material such as adverts, sales pages, or product brochures. The aim in all forms of copy (I promise not to use that word again) is always to persuade an audience towards some action, whether buying something, signing up to an email list, or throwing their money in the trash in disgust.
All too often, those of us involved in the world of copy end up being buried under a pile of words and lose sight of what it is we set out to do. As a result, we forget who our audience is and how best to reach them with our message-the power of persuasion!
Copywriting has remained relatively unchanged since its conception hundreds of years ago. It’s still all about getting your message across as clearly and effectively as possible to an ever-changing group of people; why? Because if you can do that, then the chances are you’ll sell more stuff and make more money.
So why not learn a bit more about the history behind this fantastic art before digging into some great techniques?
Let’s travel back in time a little to the world before printing presses and email campaigns. You could put a message in a bottle in this world and throw it out to sea, but besides that option, there wasn’t much else available for getting your message out to the masses.
No internet, no television, no newspaper advertisement slots-in fact, none of those sources of advertising we take for granted today even existed! So if you wanted people to know about your business or product, you had to be very creative with how you did it. Welcome to the early 1900s, where street stalls were king as far as advertising was concerned.
It was an entirely new industry because making money from other people’s products was a new concept. And so, the public needed educating in this brave and bold new world of marketing; they had to be shown how to do what they were now being offered.
The business model was simple: salespeople would dress up, pay for ad space on a street stall and then sit there all day long trying to sell their product. It sounds crazy now, but back then, it worked amazingly well!
These were the early days of copywriting as we know it, selling products with words instead of people. Then one day, someone got clever and thought:
“Hey! What if I created a piece of paper that acted as a billboard?
I could print my message on it, fold it into something that can fit in your pocket, and then walk around all day handing it out to people and trying to sell more stuff.”
And that’s precisely what happened; the world of direct mail marketing was born! Of course, it wasn’t long before other forms of copywriting started popping up in this new boom industry, such as magazine ads or radio spots.
As these industries developed, so did Copywrite, creating a broader range of styles and techniques to reach each audience.
Since then, we’ve come a long way: from street stalls to TV commercials-copywriting has evolved with every form of media available to us today.
But everywhere along the way, there have been small rule changes here and there, simply because different types of content (or ‘copy’) require slightly different strategies depending on who your audience is and what kind of online content you’re creating.
The power of persuasion
Now that we know the basics let’s take a quick look at how copywriting works its magic on your audience. There are four basic steps to getting people to act:
1) Get your message across in an exciting way
2) Use logical arguments, so they believe what you have to say.
3) Identify their needs and issues and show them how your product or service can fill those needs.
4) Convince them it’s worth buying (or whatever it is you want them to do).
Each step gets progressively more challenging and more critical; if you’re weak anywhere along the line, you’ll lose your lead either for good or until your next advertising campaign. Knowing the rules and applying them correctly is just like learning any essential skill; it takes a lot of practice to get right, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Let’s take a look at an example in action so we can see how this works in real life:
Have you ever been reading a magazine when suddenly, out of nowhere (literally!), there’s a loud noise or picture that grabs your attention?
What happens next is what copywriting is all about; something has grabbed your attention-now read on! Well, maybe not, but if you are reading now, then you’re exactly what I mean by being ‘grabbed.’ See, catching people’s attention like this doesn’t work with facts and cold complex logic. Instead, it needs to appeal straight to the subconscious, at a level where reasoned thought doesn’t exist anymore, and you act on impulse.
A simple rule that professional copywriters use is: try not to sell anything directly using facts or figures! Instead, paint a picture of how great your product or service is, but make it as simple as possible so they don’t get bored reading all the details. And if you want to know why this works, another basic rule helps: make them feel something first (like laughter or fear) and then present your case for buying what you’re selling. So now we have two critical rules in place-but wait, there’s more.
They Know What Works.
In the world of copywriting, if you don’t test your ideas on a small scale first, then you’re likely to make expensive mistakes later on. This is called split-testing, and it’s something that every professional copywriter does before they start selling anything to anyone!
By writing a few different versions of whatever you’re creating, some with slight changes here and there, you can quickly find out which one is going to work best. This way, nobody else has to do all the heavy lifting for you; writers have been doing this since time began (or at least since we’ve had stone carvings), and now so can you, except it doesn’t involve any physical effort whatsoever.
It’s just like taking a small stone out of the river to see what’s swimming downstream, and if you’re smart, you’ll know which one to throw back in again.
As long as your audience has eyes or ears, they’re potentially yours for the taking; that is, providing you understand who they are and what their main concerns are at any given moment.
From experience, I can tell you that many people treat this as a joke, and they think anyone who wants to know all about their potential customers must be trying to sell them something! Wrong! If anything, it just means I have more information when trying to help my clients achieve precisely what they need with their advertising, but hey, I won’t make any promises there either.
No One Can Be Everything For Everyone.
It’s hard to know precisely how many skilled copywriters are working in the business at any given time; some estimates say that there are over half a million people out there selling their words. Now I don’t want you to take this as fact, but what if it were true?
And even worse than that, could you imagine how much competition there would be for your share of the pie? You might think that this would create an impossible situation for anyone trying to be successful at writing sales messages—but again and again, we see writers producing brilliant work and making plenty of cash doing it! How is this possible?
It’s simple: they understand their craft and follow specific rules without exception. They know who they’re writing for and why The work is well-researched and proofread. They have a website, blog, or email list built around their expertise.
You may think I’m a little bit harsh here, but I’ve met many writers in this business who know very little about the basics. If you want to succeed, you need to be different, better than everyone else; it’s as simple as that. So start thinking about how you can give yourself an edge over all those other copywriters out there, but also be prepared to work hard and learn from your mistakes. We all make plenty of them in our early days alone!
True Experts Are Constantly Learning
Let me ask you one question: when was the last time you learned something and tried out your new skills in the office?
If you’re like most people, it was probably a long while back! And perhaps that’s why so many experts get complacent and eventually lose their edge, but this is no reason to get frustrated if you ask me. Just because things aren’t going your way at present doesn’t mean they never will.
There have been many times in my life where I thought everything I’d ever believed about life, love, or work was turned upside down. It takes courage and strength to stand up again after being knocked down flat on our backs, which is precisely why these are also some of our finest moments of learning!
Remember that feedback is needed in interpersonal communication
“The Copywriter Who Can Write Copy”
So many advertising agencies these days send their copy out to freelancers because they want the work done quickly and cheaply; after all, it’s not like they can bill using hours or effort or anything like that! Not only is this approach guaranteed to put a lot of pressure on your work in terms of deadlines, but who wants to be writing someone else’s copy anyway?
I know exactly what you’re thinking right now: “These guys must have something against freelancers… but don’t get me wrong.
We’ve got nothing against anyone (we’re not dogmatic here) as long as each individual understands why they’re choosing the career path they are.
There’s no shame at all in being a freelance copywriter because it’s what many people are built to do; despite this, many of these writers choose to get themselves a certification or further training to give their work an extra edge.
It might be tempting to take the easy way out and let someone else do all the groundwork for you, but if you want to make any life from writing, you need to showcase your skills as well as possible.
Okay, so now you know what copywriting is, and I’ve officially proven that I’m a real professional (even if I do say so myself!). But before we go any further, let me ask you something – Have you always wanted to learn about creating killer marketing content?
If this sounds interesting, be sure to check out my other articles next time, too; there are plenty of themes waiting for you (as long as you’re not still reading this one, that is)!