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Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

What is copywriting for marketing?

Today’s copywriting is shorter, active, specific and actionable

If you’ve been wondering, “what is good copywriting?” we have some advice. Whether you begin with a sharpened pencil, your favorite pen or fingers on a keyboard, start with these tips in mind.

First, always consider your audience.

To answer, “what is good marketing copywriting?” start with the audiences you must reach. Who are they? What do they know about you? What do you want them to know or learn? What action do you want them to take?

When you write to that one person that represents your ideal buyer, you can step into his/her shoes to understand how you answer their question or solve their problem. What’s the pain point? What is their reason for looking for what you offer (the trigger)? What’s the conversation you can have to acknowledge their situation and then offer the answer they’re looking for?

Next, look at the medium.

Print or online, email vs. brochure, website or ad? In general, today’s attention spans are shorter. We’re all impatient and want to get to the point, learn what we need and move on, especially when the message is digital.

How much space do you have to get your point across? What can you do to the message and format to make it easier to scan? Bullet points, shorter paragraphs, subheads always help.

Keep in mind when you’re writing for online communication–whether website or email–shorter is better. The more readable larger text sizes needed for today’s websites demand fewer words, shorter sentences and tight paragraphs.

How can design enhance your message?

Remember, in marketing, copywriting is just as important as design … in fact in many cases it’s more important.

Wooing someone to a website with the right keywords and phrases that echo what they’re searching for is just the first step. When a visitor arrives, your message (yes, that’s copywriting) must quickly tell them where they are and why they should continue to the next page. In other words, answer “what’ in it for me” at a glance.

what-is-copywriting-wiifmLayout and design grab attention and can lead someone through your message. But it’s the right words that will compel response. Images and photos can draw the eye in and suggest the topic and story, but it’s still the words and how they’re crafted that will convert that visitor into a lead. It’s the copywriting that will turn that explorer into someone who’s interested in discovering more about what you offer.

What is copywriting? Marketing copywriting paints a picture, offers benefits and calls for action

Unlike a magazine or newspaper story, copywriting for marketing follows a sales process. Understanding who you’re speaking to, then writing naturally (see below for David Ogilvy’s advice), creates the conversation that draws a reader in to move from attention to desire to action. Benefits, not features. Specific and interesting details supported by pictures. Testimonials and case studies. They all help a prospect understand why what you offer is the best choice.

Great copywriting for marketing leads the right person to action … to click, call, refer, enroll, buy.

The great David Ogilvy offered these 10 rules for copywriting … still true today

On Sept. 7, 1982, Ogilvy sent the following internal memo, titled “How to Write,” to his employees:

“The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well. Woolly-minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches. Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.

2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.

3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

4. Never use jargon words like ‘reconceptualize,’ ‘demassification,’ ‘attitudinally,’ ‘judgmentally.’ They are hallmarks of pretense.

5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.

6. Check your quotations.

7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning—and then edit it.

8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.

9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal-clear what you want the recipient to do.

10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.”

Thanks to Ragan’s PR Daily for sharing these words of wisdom.

Bottom line advice (as I interpret Mr. Ogilvy):

  • Don’t be woolly
  • Keep it brief
  • Edit and refine, with help if you need it

What is great copywriting? There are many different approaches and there’s always plenty of advice. But when it comes to copywriting for marketing, refer to Mr. Ogilvy. (There are a few others I recommend, too.)

You’ll find more tips in these blog posts.

Who’s your favorite advisor, or which books do you read for copywriting tips?

Writing well for marketing is based on understanding your audiences. Use our worksheet to get clear before you set pen to paper, fingers to keyboard.


About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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