3 things a copywriter can do that you can’t.* And 1 thing they won’t.**

What does a copywriter actually do, anyway?

I get asked this question a lot. And I mean a lot. But even if you think you know what a copywriter does, the answer isn’t simply: writes stuff.

Let’s start with what they won’t do. They can’t help you with the legal process of protecting your intellectual property against theft**. That’s copyright ©, and for that you need a copyright lawyer. So if that’s what you’re looking for advice about, it’s been lovely having you along for the ride, but you’ll probably want to hop off now.

Put simply: a copywriter works with words. They write the words that go into your website, brochure, catalogue, or email campaign. They’ll plan and implement a marketing campaign, write reports and case studies, and even write your industry award entry for you.

Anything that uses words to promote your business needs a copywriter.

These days, of course, that also means understanding SEO and writing all that lovely stuff known as ‘content’ – blog posts, social media, video captions and scripts, as well as product descriptions.

But to do any of that, we do a lot more than just writing. We research, interview, think, write, question, edit, think, edit again, and proofread. We learn about your business and your industry, craft and adapt to your brand’s tone of voice, and find the words that talk directly to your audience.

But I’m the business owner, and I can write. What can a copywriter do that I can’t?

Offer you a different perspective

A good copywriter will ask a whole lot of searching questions. That’s because they’ll want to understand your company, your audience, and your aims for whatever they’re writing. They’ll look at it in context (what will this sit with?) and from every angle. Because they are on the outside of your business they’ll challenge your perceptions and suggest creative ideas you might not have considered.

Be objective

It can be hard to critique your own work. A copywriter looks at every word from your audience’s viewpoint, and isn’t precious about cutting stuff out. The turn of phrase they were really pleased with? Ego doesn’t come into it. If it doesn’t meet the brief, out it comes. If you’ve tried writing, you know it can be a painful process. We will take that pain away.

Their job, rather than yours.

If you’re a business owner, your job is to work on your business. It isn’t to spend hours burning the candle at both ends and second-guessing your audience as you write your own brochure copy, web copy, blog posts, email campaigns, social media posts…

That’s a copywriter’s job. Using one saves you time, and gets better results for your business.

Let’s have words…

*probably.**unless they also happen to be a copyright lawyer.

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How often do we make a pig’s ear of listening?

 

Recently, I’ve been involved in an email exchange which has left me variously perplexed, amused and frustrated.

Someone I met whilst networking a few weeks ago sees me as a prospect.

Whilst I like to keep an open mind, in this case I’m pretty sure that I am not a prospect, and that it’s highly unlikely I ever will be.

I’ve been polite. I’ve explained that I’m already aware of their organisation. That, as a consumer rather than a business, I’m a customer, and that I’ve already declined opportunities to further the relationship. I’ve stressed that my business focus lies elsewhere.

The latest reply suggests that my options are:

i. be blunt to the extent of saying ‘I have NO interest in this’,

ii. block, or ignore, future communications.

Neither of which feels comfortable. And ii. feels downright unprofessional.

Would you agree?

Even less comfortable is the realisation that I may have put one of our own potential clients in a similar position.

It was a different scenario, in they had actually approached us asking for advice. And I did listen very hard to what they were telling me about what their business needed. Unfortunately, what they needed wasn’t what they wanted.

Having thoroughly digested all the information they gave me, my certainty that they needed ‘B’ (when what they were asking for was ‘A’), may have caused me to close my ears to what they were telling me they were ready to buy.

My dilemma was to either:

i. quote for, and provide, exactly what they were asking for, even though I knew that, on its own, it wouldn’t achieve the results they wanted,

or,

ii. write a proposal recommending an approach that delivered what my experience told me they needed, even though I knew they were unlikely to make the additional investment.

I chose the latter. They understood what I was getting at, but still just wanted ‘A’, and got a bit frustrated when I wouldn’t sell it to them.

Having listened to what they wanted, but heard what they needed, taking their cash to deliver something that I was sure wasn’t going to work would have felt wrong. We didn’t get the client that time, but we have had some positive subsequent conversations, and we’re still on good terms.

What would you have done?

Word of the Week

Backstand } resistance

That’s all Charles Mackay has to say about it, and a modern dictionary search turns up: a device for regulating machinery belt tension.

Today, as we take in the atrocity of the Manchester Arena bombing, our hearts go out to those caught up in it, and our heartfelt thanks go to those helping to deal with it – whether in the emergency services, or simply by having offered shelter and human kindness. I can’t help thinking that we’re all going to be doing a lot more backstanding in the months and years to come.

 

 

What’s acceptable at a B2B exhibition – are you poacher or gamekeeper?

Over the last couple of years of building up my brand communications business, I’ve been occasionally helping out on a stand for one of my favourite creative partners. It’s helped them out, got my business out there, and calmed the exhibition nerves to the extent that we’re ready to go it alone at Grow Kent in June.

It’d be lovely to see some friendly faces, but that’s not why I’m here right now.

I’m puzzled, and hoping you can help.

You see, yesterday, at the Kent B2B in Ashford, a couple of chaps from another creative agency (delegates, not exhibitors) rocked up to the stand I was partnering on, hung around eating the sherbet lemons, fiddling with the literature and awards and generally blocking the stand, and then started handing out their own business cards to people we were having conversations with.

We didn’t like to cause a scene at the time, but, erm, hello…?

What I’d like to know from all you seasoned exhibitors is:

  • Do you consider this acceptable behaviour either from delegates or other exhibitors?
  • If your answer to the above is ‘no’, how would you deal with it?
  • If your answer to the above is ‘yes’, it’d be interesting to know why you think so.

Thank you for your time and thoughts.

Let’s have words…

We love words

We love using them to tell stories, to engage, delight or provoke. We love having conversations with our clients, and helping them to have better, more productive conversations with their customers –  developing more meaningful relationships and helping them build stronger brands.

A wonderful world of words

This is one of my favourite charity shop trophies, picked up years ago in the Oxfam bookshop. It was originally published in 1874, and contains a treasure trove of archaic words. As the cover text suggests, it illustrates “the extraordinary roots and versatility of the English language. Charles Mackay…has bequeathed to us a wonderful literary legacy. For what was deemed ‘lost’ in 1874 may be reinvented for the twentieth century, and so prove and excellent, delightful and unusual sourcebook for verbaphiles, writers and every-day literary enthusiasts.”

My copy was printed in 1987, and I am as fascinated and amused by words which remain archaic as I am by those which, ‘lost’ in 1874, have indeed become commonplace once again. Then there are those words which are commonplace now – but with a meaning that appears to have evolved since Charles Mackay’s day.

I hope you will enjoy a few of them as I share some of my favourites with you, week by week. The old definitions are copied verbatim from Charles Mackay’s book. Modern definitions where used, are from the OED.

Aftermath } the pasture after the grass has been mowed; a second mowing or crop

more commonly used today in the sense of:

Aftermath } the results of an unpleasant or important event

Or how about this useful little fellow?

 

Alder } a prefix formerly used to intensify the meaning of an adjective in the superlative degree, as if to better the best and heighten the highest.

As in:

Alderbest } best of all

Aldermost } greatest, or most of all

 

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