First up, copywriting isn’t that little © symbol. It doesn’t protect your creative work, but it is at the front line when it comes to your brand.
In a nutshell, copywriting means promotional or marketing writing – everything from your website and emails to ads, case studies, blogs and so much more. It lays out the benefits of what you do to your target audience, and compels them to take action; donate, buy, sign-up, follow.
But before you commission anyone to put pen to paper or, perhaps more accurately, fingertip to keyboard, you need to know who you’re talking to. The copywriting process begins with where your message ends up – the audience.
Of course the most common response to that question is either ‘everyone’ or a look of confused apprehension (dammit, I should have thought about that). The world is a rather huge marketplace and, for any business to succeed, it’s critical that you identify your specific audience and speak directly, and compellingly, to them.
So, before you waste any time drafting scintillating copy that your clients, customers or colleagues will never read, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.
Who will be reading this?
Donors and supporters? Internal audience? Customers? Stakeholders? Those in the know, or those in the dark? Figure out who you need to engage before you spend a second creating your content, because their needs and wants will be very different. This is where you push ‘I’ and ‘we’ firmly into the back seat and think about what your audience wants to read or here. Strangely enough, your marketing isn’t all about you….
How do I want them to respond?
There has to be a purpose to the copy – a call to action. If you’re not pointing the reader to the next step on their journey, you’ve effectively taken them to the edge of a knowledge cliff. Tell them explicitly what it is that you want them to do – place an order, ask a question, get in touch. Whatever the ask, your copy must be part of their journey, not their final destination.
What do they need, to do what you want?
Make sure your copy primes the reader with everything they need to answer your call to action. Enough detail to tantalise and compel, without excessive, self-serving detail. They want to know the benefits to them, or to the people you serve, not the minute detail of your process. Keep the compelling nuggets of gold to the top, lest you lose their attention on the way down the copy (we readers are fickle like that).
Speak their language
Tone and register are critical if you’re to draw your audience in and accurately reflect your brand. There’s no point peppering urban slang through an investment mail-out – unless perhaps to silicone valley, in the hope that an over-achieving 12 year old has budget to blow. But, still, maybe not.
You have to accurately reflect the tone of your brand to build and maintain credibility, and keep your audience feeling like you ‘get’ them. Honestly, if the words ‘mumpreneur’ or #GirlBoss appear anywhere in any copy, I’m out, done, delete, unsubscribe, burn. That’s the impact of tone.
Throughout the whole process you have to ask yourself why they should be interested in what you have to say, what pain point you are addressing, and how you can make them act. Slip off your own shoes, and hop into theirs.
If you’re all for audience engagement but prefer someone else to wear their shoes, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.