If you’re starting a new company, launching a new product, or are simply giving your current brand a fresh lick of paint, getting your design perfect is key.
However, once you’ve wowed your audience with sparkling visuals – then what?
You need high quality writing to truly win over your audience. Promotional text or “copy” is key here. But what is it, and why is it so crucial?
What exactly is copy?
If you’re unfamiliar with the terms “copy” and “copywriting,” let’s clarify. “Copy” refers to most kinds of marketing text that you can think of. For example, copy can refer to website text; the words on flyers, leaflets, and billboards; the script and on-screen text in television adverts; it’s basically any text that persuades you to act a certain way – usually to buy something.
The term itself dates back to the 1900’s when newspaper advertising text needed to be manually copied onto the printing press. So don’t be put off by the term “copy,” it’s not copied from anywhere!
People who write copy professionally are therefore called “copywriters.” It’s important to note that though the term is similar to “copyright,” copywriters don’t protect intellectual property.
What role does good copy play?
Valuable copy is like a smooth salesperson. Whether the purpose of the text is to inform, nurture interest, or to sell-sell-sell; choosing the right words can move your readers towards a desired action. Great copy convinces your audience of what makes your company special and how working with you is the ideal choice for them.
When companies make us feel the right way about what they’re offering, they are more likely to get a purchase out of us. Like many marketers, copywriters understand the emotional impetus behind any purchase – no matter how logical or formal the situation may be.
[Sidenote] Psychology plays a massive part in marketing, check out my previous article: The Psychology of Copywriting: Appealing to the Lizard in All of Us.
Copy can play more of a role in your overall brand image than you might think. Deciding on the right tone and language to use in your marketing, and using it consistently across all platforms plays an important part in your outward appearance. For example, if McDonalds started using flowery corporate jargon in their adverts – we’d notice! They go for a more friendly and approachable tone because there’s no reason for them to be any other way.
Likewise if a financial services organisation starts referring to the results it achieves for its clients as “amazeballs,” they’d probably have people running to the hills. Carefully consider how the feel of the language you use portrays you and fits in with your industry.
At its worst, bad copy can contain poor grammar, spelling mistakes all over the place, and lengthy paragraphs that go nowhere. Poorly written copy can easily turn people away. If you aren’t a confident writer or don’t have the time to produce stellar copy in-house; you’d probably benefit from outsourcing your copywriting.
What does good copy look like?
At its very core, proficiently written copy:
- Speaks candidly to the typical audience that require the products or services that are being promoted
- Empathises with the relevant needs of that audience and understands their problems
- Positions the company/product/service in question as an ideal solution to those problems
- And usually ends on a call to action, which telegraphs how the reader can take further action.
Fundamentally, great copy catches the audience’s attention in the first sentence. We have surprisingly short attention spans, so if a reader loses interest within the first couple of sentences, chances are you’ve lost them for good. Good copy needs to start grabbing attention and persuading from the get-go.
If your text is full of jargon and obtuse industry terms that readers may not understand, that’s all the more effort that the reader has to put in to comprehend it. Copy needs to be effortless to read, flow nicely, and be free from grammatical and spelling errors.
As already mentioned, copywriters and marketers understand the role that emotion plays in buying decisions of all kinds. If your copy simply states what you do with no kind of persuasive hook, you are unlikely to catch many interested fish. But if you’re able to persuasively convey that you empathise with your end users’ problem, and that they should read on for a potential solution; you’re more likely to turn heads.
Good copy also has an appropriate, set objective from the offset; so think carefully about what you want each piece of text to achieve. Do you want to encourage sales? If so, what service or product specifically do you want to push? Alternatively, do you want to take a more informational approach with a sale not necessarily being the immediate outcome? What information do you want to convey? Or maybe you want to a happy medium between sales and information? Really drill down what you want to achieve with all copy your company publishes.
Why invest in copywriting?
Well right off the bat, it’s important to note that every business needs copy in some way or another, regardless of the business’ age, type or market.
Copy deserves just as much attention as a brand’s look and feel. The power of copy is undeniable – look at big brand TV spots for example. Though every company who has made it that far obviously has a strong visual brand, it’s the copy and the taglines that stick with us; think about “I’m lovin’ it,” “because you’re worth it,” and “just do it.”
People even use straplines like “should’ve gone to Specsavers” in everyday conversation. Great design has the power to stick in people’s minds, but copy and taglines have the unique ability to be communicated and passed on in a meme-like fashion.
However, these taglines are from large organisations that everyone is familiar with; small, unheard-of businesses have a far greater need to get their name out there in order to stake their claim within their industry, and the business world as a whole. Copy is therefore an invaluable part of building brand identity for small to medium businesses.
Let’s not do design a disservice; graphics are key in hooking a viewer’s initial attention and creating fundamental brand recognition, but copy helps retain that interest and nurtures the reader towards taking action.
High quality copy is an invaluable business investment – whether that’s investing your time or investing financially in the services of an external copywriter. If you find you need copy regularly, you may even find yourself looking for a full-time copywriting member of staff!
Just as you would pay a designer to create a quality brand visuals, so should you invest in the words that your business uses to convey itself. The right words and the right visuals are a fearsome pairing – get them both right and you’ll have taken the first key step to marketing success.Marketing communications should never just fill a gap - here’s why. Click To Tweet
Does your company write its own copy or do you outsource? How much copy does your organisation publish and how regularly do you put something new out there? Do you use content marketing at all? Let’s have a chat down in the comments!