Talking about copywriting in marketing
Here’s an extract from my book “Making the most of copywriting in marketing”. This snappily-titled and slim volume is not a text book. It’s a collection of my experiences and tips gleaned from 30 years in the marketing and copywriting business.
Where copywriting begins …
I regularly find that after the first contact with a marketing team about a project, I’m fired up and inspired to start writing copy straight away.
Fortunately, experience has proven that there are a few things to get straight before any writing begins.
Things like what the client’s business all about, what they sell, and the specific goals of a particular campaign. And why any of this would impress the chosen target market.
Agreeing these points, and then writing them down so everyone can read them and agree them again, makes for a much better chance of success first time around.
These documents are created under different names – copy briefs, copy platforms, project briefs – but their role is always to ensure the team are all working from the same place.
Let’s start with the brand.
Known to the general public as the “I can’t believe they’ve spent so much on designing a logo”, the brand means much more to everyone in marketing. It’s why the business exists, its ethos, and how it shows itself to the world in everything it does and says.
Within that framework, “tone of voice” is how the business speaks. Anything from quirky and direct to grave and weighty, the tone of voice reflects how the business feels it can best connect with its customers and stakeholders. And tone of voice can be applied right across the organisation, in written communications and in how people talk to the outside world.
A copywriter writes the best copy if there are clear guidelines on tone of voice. And if an organisation isn’t clear about those guidelines, then the first task is to work out together what the tone of voice will be. It’s also important to understand the products, the services and the business.
In my ideal world I’d be taking a tour of the factory, a flight in the jet, a day in the spa – whatever gets me under the skin of the client’s business. In a not-so-perfect world I have to satisfy my quest for knowledge by asking the right questions. Not just about what the business is and what it offers, but why it believes that it deserves to have customers.
The third thing to clarify is the role of the campaign. Is it simply to raise awareness of the business? Introduce a new product or service? Make a time-limited offer? And what action do we want the reader to take after seeing the message?
Get all these aspects set down before the project starts and progress will be far less bumpy.
If you’d like to know more about making the most of words in your marketing communications, please get in touch.