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5 Things You Can Learn From a Copywriter

Copying a copywriter

There aren’t only five. I flatter myself that we could teach you a few more things than that. How to use a semi-colon, for example.

These are just a selection of the awesomest things copywriters do that you can apply to your own advertising and business in general.

Are you ready? Let’s plaaayyyyy…copy the copywriter!

1. Keep a swipe file

What’s a swipe file? I’m glad you asked. A swipe file is a collection (or curation if you’re into hipster marketing) of stuff you like. We all do it – Pinterest is a swipe file for our homes and bodies, Twitter favourites are a swipe file for our knowledge of current events and topical puns – and it’s a brilliant place to refer to when it comes to planning new marketing.

I’ve sat in marketing teams for a while now and every day there’s a conversation that goes a little bit like this: “Oh, I saw an ad I really liked not too long ago. Oh maaan, who was it by. I think it was for tea? Or life insurance or something? We should do something like that.”

All the things you see that make you wish you’d come up with them – swipe ’em. It’s not stealing unless a musician collecting records is stealing.

Check out my swipe file on Pinterest.

2. Don’t take marketing personally

Copywriters, by their very nature, write because they love writing. They adore beautiful and strange words, they get off on elegant and precise turns of phrase. But that’s not how they make money. Often, the thing they know is right is a thing that makes them snore.

Learn this: what you like may not be the thing your company needs in its marketing. And what you think is boring or silly may be the thing your audience goes for. The most important thing? Clarity over cleverness.

3. Stay in close contact with other people in your field

Not going to lie, copywriters spend a lot more time writing brochures about air conditioning than they do writing international ad campaigns. Because of this (and because we mostly work from home where our only companions are the online kind), we tend to converge on Twitter and blogs to let our creativity run wild.

One thing I’ve started doing is @OneMinuteBriefs, which is what it sounds like: a one-minute brief for an ad every day, which you share on Twitter. It’s super fast, it gets me thinking and it’s good for connecting me with other copywriters.

The takeaway from this is that you need to keep connected to people who do the same job as you. For support, inspiration, business leads – you name it. It’s the perfect way to keep up with industry news, and find events to go to and new people to follow. #CopywritersUnite is the hashtag that brings copywriters together – find the one that does that for your job.

4. Have an opinion

If you have a business blog (you have a blog, right?), you should be using it to share your expertise. And that includes your expert opinion on current events that relate to your industry. Now, you don’t want to alienate people, but your company should have a clear set of values: what excites you and what grinds your gears.

We copywriters pretty much play at having opinions – we try them on like costumes to see what will get a rise. Keep it fairly safe, but there’s no better way to get people interacting with your content than a bit of healthy debate.

5. Know the rules – so you can break them

Sometimes something works because it’s not what you’re supposed to do. It catches people’s attention and imagination. Copywriters for companies like Innocent, who have a playful brand image, often do ‘honest marketing’: flat, not-showing-off messages that make them seem real – like admitting your new product is very fattening and not all that healthy but that’s why it’s delicious.

It works; people love it. We love seeing companies step out of what they’re supposed to do. Take a look at the way things have always been done in your industry and try to subvert it in a way that will delight people.

I’m biased but copywriters do have a lot of great ideas, especially about advertising. They have to be psychologists, researchers, marketers and a whole lot more, so if you have one hanging around – watch them closely for tips.

A few things you can learn from a copywriter and use to make your advertising AWESOME. Click To Tweet