Why Business Copywriting Requires a Copywriter
“Almost everybody in the advertising business will tell you that there are more efficient ways to influence the consumer than writing copy.
But here’s something else that almost everybody agrees on: It has gotten harder and harder to build brand, move merchandise, convey a message, leave a lasting impression.”
– Michael Wolff, award-winning writer and contributor to Vanity Fair
Though it seems to state the obvious, the assertion that copywriting requires a copywriter is not a widely believed principle.
The issue is this: Many people believe that because they know how to write, they know how to write well. As a writer, I beg to differ, as you might expect.
Copywriting is a skill that must be continually perfected. Just learning how to do something doesn’t mean you don’t keep learning to do it better.
And business copywriting is certainly not something that everyone can do.
To back that claim, I invite you to read Michael Wolff’s excellent opinion piece on USA Today about the lack of effective copywriters in the advertising business. (Note: the article introduces a copywriting contest.)
A Copywriter’s Job
No one can make someone pay attention. But it’s the job of a copywriter to make people want to pay attention.
Done effectively, copywriting tells a story that the reader just can’t put down. The copywriter creates a compelling need for the reader to keep reading (and listener to keep listening and watcher to keep watching).
“The more you get someone to read (the job of the copywriter), the more the reader is engaged with what you are saying — and selling.”
Businesses That Don’t “Get” Copywriting
Some businesses try to save money by writing ad copy (or website copy, or blogs, or social media, or commercial scripts) themselves. Managers assign someone on the team to come up with a concept and put the words to paper.
My question is: Does the amount of money saved by not hiring a professional copywriter outweigh the potential amount lost due to disengaged customers?
I know you’ve seen those awful local car dealer commercials with the owner’s wife spouting out forgettable lines penned by Joe Schmoe, the part-timer working toward an English degree.
Do you ever feel compelled to buy from that dealer? Do you even remember who that dealer is?
If I were that business owner, I’d be concerned that I wasn’t effectively reaching potential customers. If they don’t remember your dealership, how will they remember to drop by when they’re in the market for a car?
Businesses That Understand Copywriting
Some business owners get it. Take Apple, for example. Certainly the majority of credit for Apple’s success goes to the products they sell, but without marketing, they would be in a different spot.
Speaking of marketing, check out what Steve Jobs found to be of great importance when it came to his company’s advertising messages:
“The late Jay Chiat, then CEO of Apple’s agency, Chiat/Day, once told me that every time a new person was put on his account, Steve Jobs, who was as shaped by good advertising as he was by innovative technology, would say ‘but can he (or she) write?’
That’s a question it seems every client should reasonably ask.
‘Pictures,’ Jobs once told Chiat, ‘are easy. Words are hard.’”
As for me, I’ve been playing with words for years, and I still think writing is hard. But I’m thankful it is. Besides the challenge it gives me on a daily basis, it’s good business. If it were easy, everyone would do it well, and I’d be out of a job.
Do you write your own copy? If so, are you happy with the results?