Copywrite and Copy Wrong: Why Copywriting Matters

Here's a story:

In 1974, two young men were re-united at their 25th high school reunion. Both were well off, married, and surprised to learn that they'd both been working for the same company since school. One of them was middle-management; the other was the company's president and CEO. What separated these two men with such similar backgrounds so drastically? The answer: the Wall Street Journal.

The story is apocryphal, of course: it was invented by copywriter Martin Conroy and used in a subscription offer for the Wall Street Journal. Estimates put the value of the offer — based purely on direct sales from subscriptions — at more than $1 billion.

That's what good copywriting can do for you.

Design for Wow, Copy for POW!

Good copywriting didn't go to the grave with Martin Conroy. Look at most successful brands and you'll find a lot of their marketing and advertising is based on copywriting. Apple's iPhone 5 campaign, for example, featured some nice design but the sales kick, the hook that made 5 million people just gotta have one in its first three days on sale, was copywriting.

It's not surprising, of course, that big brands put a high value on copywriting. The vast majority of media is 'readerly': newspapers, magazines, books, email, SMS. If you're not getting your point across, chances are it's your copywriting that is letting you down and resulting in a missed sale or prospect.

Sure, great design, in whatever media, has its place. It draws people in, cuts through competing visual clutter, grabs attention and creates appeal. But it's a rare — very rare — product or campaign that sells purely on the back of a nice design.

It's the copywriting that convinces. And closes the sale.

But I want a website. And the web is visual.

Sorry. Wrong. The web is not visual. Or not wholly so.

Despite seeming highly visual, even the web is a 'readerly' medium. People don't passively look at a webpage — they read it. The whole thrust of what has become known as Web 2.0 is participation, and 90% of that participation involves reading. And therefore writing.

Facebook. Twitter. Blogs, text messaging, social networks. They are all based primarily on reading and writing.

So if you want to drive interest — and sales — through your website, then give your customers something to read. And the more money you are asking them to part with, the more reading you've got to give them. It's true. The research is unequivocal.

So it's vital to get your copywriting right.

Design without content is bad design

Great design is often described as transparent, as it lets the message or sales pitch shine through without drawing attention to itself. If it's drawing attention to itself, it's bad design.

It's easy to get sidetracked by notions of 'good design' when briefing a designer, especially for a website. Good design is important, of course, but not at the expense of good content. Unfortunately we see it all too often: a client allocates 90% of their time and budget to design issues, without really paying attention to content. And regardless of how 'good' is a given website's design, if there's nothing to fill it, no content, no words, then it's going to look second rate, poorly executed, and not highly valued.

Google loves copy

Good copywriting may be the single most important and influential factor in your Google ranking.

Forget link-farming and backlinking and keyword stuffing and AdWords and whatever else some SEO huckster is trying to sell you. Good copywriting is the best thing you can do to boost your Google ranking.

Write something for your website. Make it clear, relevant, informative. Write what you know and that you think your customers will be interested in. (Remember, to them, you're the expert.) Google rankings will follow.

Blog a bit

Writing a regular blog for your website is Google gold. Part of Google's indexing algorithm looks for the regularity of new content and its relevance to a given website's target audience. Writing a simple blog column on a weekly or bi-weekly basis will get your site noticed and will bump you up Google's rankings.

But more importantly, a regular blog establishes you as an authority in your market segment. Customers and prospects value that authority. It builds loyalty and integrity by sharing your expertise and pitching yourself and your business as a Centre of Excellence in your field. Ultimately that hands you a clear and priceless competitive edge.

What goes around ...

Whether you write it or whether you get a professional copywriter, good copywriting offers exceptional value for money.

Not only does it do all of the above (which, c'mon, is worth the price of admission alone), it can also be used time and time again across a variety of marketing media.

Written a killer headline for a sales pitch on your blog? Use the same killer headline on your sales brochure, on a flyer, on your directory listing, even on your business card. Written some sales copy that hits customer's buying headspace just right? Use it wherever you can.

There aren't too many marketing devices that are so adaptable and reusable. Endlessly. In fact, big business makes a benefit of re-using particularly good copywriting; it's part of their brand.

And Don't Forget the Editing

So you've sat down, researched your topic, chewed your pencil, pounded the keyboard and managed to knock out a few hundred words on a topic that you know about and that you think your readers, customers or prospects will find interesting or useful. Well done, that's more than most people manage; writing doesn't come naturally to most people, and it can be hard work and a little intimidating.

But now you've done all that hard work, don't push the Post button or the Print button until it has been well edited.

Depending on your purpose and your audience, strict adherence to the finer points of grammar may not be necessary. But typos, spelling errors and sloppy punctuation don't do you any favours.

Get someone else (no, not second-cousin Curtis) to run their eyes over it before you publish it. A second person can be more objective than you can, and can pick up mistakes and oversights that, as the writer, you've gone blind to. Hey, it happens. All the best authors have great editors.

And don't get precious about your written words. A good editor is impartial and their suggested edits may seem harsh, but ultimately their only purpose is to make your writing sparkle. It's in your best interests to listen to their suggestions and recommendations.

Build Better Business

Whatever way you look at it, modern marketing is based primarily on copywriting. The whole dynamic of social media is based on networking and copywriting. Email marketing is based on email and copywriting. Blogging is based on websites and copywriting.

Not everyone enjoys the process of writing, though. That's where we can help. We've contributed articles to journals such as Rolling Stone and Leonardo. We've staffed and freelanced for Lonely Planet. We've contracted to Readers Digest and IMP and Compass International. We've researched and written engaging content for Northern Territory Tourism, Ruapheu Tourist Office, the ABC, among many others. We make headlines sing and body copy sizzle.

If writing is not your thing, get in touch. We can work out a schedule to produce researched and original content that can form the backbone of your marketing campaigns: from email newsletters, to your blog, to your Facebook page. Keep it up to date and relevant and your business will get noticed.

In brief

  • Good copywriting is the single most important influence in your Google page rank.

  • Good design attracts attention; good copywriting keeps it.

  • Good copywriting converts enquiry to interest and interest to action.

  • Good copywriting builds loyalty, establishes your expertise, and reinforces your integrity.

Copywriting, written right

There are, of course, dozens of reasons why you might prefer to use a professional copywriter on a one-off or regular basis, time and skill being the two of the major factors. If that’s the case, saso.creative offers a professional, experienced copywriting service, whether you need some one-off web copy with a few killer headlines, or a regular, researched, original blog column.

The best sales pitches, of course, be they web- or print-based, are those whose design and copywriting work hand-in-hand to build a visually and verbally cohesive pitch which really makes your sales sing.

That’s our speciality. We’ve written and designed sales and editorial collateral for Readers Digest, IMP, Compass Group, and Lonely Planet, among many, many others.

So get in touch today if you want your copy written right.

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