October 31, 2013

Why the Heck Do I Need a Copywriter?

Minute Read

Running a business is tricky. Used to be, you could likely get by with a small, isolated marketing plan that targeted your immediate surroundings. The people in your neighbourhood, or town, or city. The rest of the world wasn’t your concern, and that was A-OK.

But now? Well, my friends, the playing field has changed. A quick Google search will reveal dozens…hundreds…thousands of competitors for your business. And you’re not just competing with others in your town, either. You’re quite literally competing with the world. Whew. As consumers, we’re spoiled for choice, no matter what the product or service.

You’re job, then, is to be heard above the noise. To make your business stand out against a backdrop of thousands. And how do you do that? Increasingly, it becomes a numbers game. You need an online presence. You need an online presence that ranks well. And that’s where a professional copywriter can help.

Is It Just About Google?

Well, no. And yes. The reality (unfortunate or otherwise) is that most people head online when they need to find something. Product. Service. Business. They might check the Yellow Pages. They might ask a friend. They might glance at the flyer in the mail. But more often than not, they’ll simply google it. And you’d better hope that your business appears somewhere near the top of the thousands of websites that pop up. Why? Ask yourself when was the last time you looked at more than the first page or two of search results before clicking and moving on.

Here’s where that “no but yes” answer comes in to play. You can no longer write FOR Google and other search engines. It doesn’t work. But ignoring them is equally disastrous. I won’t bore you with the dos and don’ts of ranking with Google (perhaps the subject of another blog post?), but I will say it’s a fine balance between the two. So…

A Copywriter Writes for People with an Eye on Google

Good copy is written for people. It’s conversational, engaging, and useful. It is NOT stuffed with unnatural keywords and questionable links. While there are certain strategies that help with rank, content should be high quality and authoritative first and foremost. That’s the true way to Google’s heart. And a good copywriter knows that. They speak to your audience, and they include all the little things Google does want to see.

OK. So a copywriter writes content for people and uses a few techniques to appease the search engines. Got it. What else? What does a copywriter do? Why do I need one?

A Copywriter Asks the Right Questions

Before starting any project, a good copywriter will have questions. Lots of them. And really, the more the better. It’s our job to understand your business as well, or better, than you do. We need to identify your target market, their wants, fears, desires, your unique selling preposition, the key benefits. We’ll ask questions that you might not have even considered, and in addition to helping us write stellar copy for you, that’ll give you insight into your business that you didn’t have before. Win-win.

A Copywriter Gives a New Perspective

Sometimes (most of the time, really) it’s hard to step back and look at something we’ve worked hard to create, build, write, or produce with an unbiased eye. And that’s a problem when you’re trying to relate to your customers and their needs. Why is your product better than the rest? It just is. What is its top benefit? It’s awesome. How will it improve your customer’s life? By making it better. See what I mean? A professional copywriter is able to look with a fresh perspective and really see your business. Its strengths. Its USP. Its benefits. Even its weaknesses. We can highlight the best and anticipate potential stumbling blocks and confusion in a way that you probably can’t. Win-win.

A Copywriter Fits the Copy to the Audience

There is a good chance that you’re a decent writer. Lots of people are. But writing effective copy is more about them, your target market, and less (or nothing) about you. Every writer has a unique voice. That combination of tone, word choice, punctuation, and sentence structure that makes their writing unmistakably their own. And that’s a marvelous thing…unless you’re writing copy. Your voice might be slightly, or completely, wrong for your audience. They won’t respond to it, or worse, they’ll be absolutely put off by it. A good copywriter is able to change their voice to fit the project. Once they identify the audience, they can make adjustments to their voice to really connect and engage with your potential customers. Every copy project is different, and a copywriter uses their experience to find the perfect voice for your message. It’s one of the reasons I love the job so much. It’s a fun challenge to find and activate the right voice to connect with the audience and help your business. Win-win (noticing a pattern?).

A Copywriter Understands When to Sell, and When to Pull Back

Ever gone into a retail store and had a sales clerk ask if they can help you? Which do you prefer, the clerk who asks and then leaves you alone until you have a question or actually need help, or the one that’s constantly in your face and trying to force unwanted items on you? Hmm. Tough call, right? It’s the same with copy. No one likes to be sold anything. It’s irritating. The biggest mistake you can make with your copy is to try and sell your audience from the first word. It doesn’t work. Try to sell too soon or too often, and you’ll usually lose the sale. A good copywriter recognizes that people don’t like to be sold, and they buy for emotional reasons. And they use that in their copy. They know when to explain, when to appeal to wants, fears, and desires, when to point out the key benefits, when to add value to the service, and when to finally ask for the sale. It’s not tricks or gimmicks. It’s good writing that understands basic ideas about the way we consume and rationalize our purchases. Your copywriter gets to utilize the art of persuasion (something we love), and you get to sell your product or service.  Win-win (again).

A Copywriter Helps Your Business

You could try and write your own copy. And you could try and make your own clothes, cut your own hair, and rewire your entire house. You could. It might not be too bad…

A good copywriter is about more than just words. That’s part of it, of course, but there are many reasons why a copywriter is the right way to go for your business. Did I mention that it’s win-win?

Now, what can I do for you? How can I help your business today?


Bryan Johnston

Former high school English lit & drama teacher. Current writer, stand-up comedian, & improv performer. A big switch? You betcha.

International expat for 12+ years with stops in Beijing, Dubai, Shanghai, & Guangzhou. Dad to a university sophomore, an eleven-month old charmer, & the two best doggos. Lover of funny things & people. Oh, and craft beer.

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