The Naked Truth: 7 Copywriting Myths Uncovered
The stories we tell ourselves direct our actions and behaviours. Spin inaccurate tales and we run the risk of missing out on opportunities because we didn’t know any different.
This is something that’s cropped up time and again in my copywriting business. I’ve heard some interesting takes on copywriting: what it is, what we do and why we do it. And with these tall tales, business owners have been diverted from what good copywriting offers.
With so many myths out there, I’m setting the record straight and opening up business owners’ eyes to the value of good copywriting.
1.You mean copyright, right?
I can’t remember a single networking event where I haven’t been introduced as, ‘Becky, she does copyright.’ I have also been asked, in some detail, about the legality of using certain images on a website due to copyright laws.
Thankfully, legal rules about who owns what is not my bag. Copywriting is a whole different kettle of fish. Think words not rules (except grammatical ones) and you’ll be closer to the mark.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a copywriter is a person who “writes the text of advertisements or publicity material.”
That’s pretty clear. But there’s still some ambiguity about exactly what we do and how we work. So here’s some insight into exactly what goes on behind closed copywriting doors.
2. You just take my words and write them down
That’s what one potential client said to me after I told her how much it would cost to re-write her website. (Needless to say, we didn’t work together.)
Of course, copywriters don’t just interview a client and repeat them word for word. We do pull out the really influential information - the features, benefits and unique selling points of a product or service.
We also ensure we understand the audience inside and out and weave powerful copy out of this combination of information. Really good copywriters will take the audience on an emotional journey using words to hook the heart and the mind so the audience takes action.
If we took what clients said and wrote it down verbatim, trust me, the results would be pretty horrible.
3. Copywriters love words more than people
We copywriters might spend a lot of time locked in a quiet room somewhere, but we also love people.
We have to, because understanding them is a big part of our work. Without knowing:
what it is that makes a particular audience tick
what their objections would be to an offering
how they feel when they’re looking for a product
how you want them to feel at the end of your copy ...
… we can’t write effective, impactful words.
Being able to spend time on your own hammering away at a keyboard is an important part of the job. But without a questioning mind, a naturally inquisitive nature and a desire to really understand human behaviour, you’re a typewriter not a copywriter.
4. Copywriters are sleazy sales people in disguise
Good copywriters don’t need to make shit up, stretch the truth or outright lie. Instead, we sniff out the bits of a product or service that will resonate with the audience. Then we portray these elements in the best possible light without the need to resort to fibs.
It’s as simple as getting to the story behind the product or service and going from there.
5. Businesses can use copy written for other firms and get the same results
Great copy talks directly to your audience. It’s written to appeal to their specific desires, to assuage their particular fears and to let them know you can give them exactly what they want.
Which means copy intended for one audience shouldn’t be used for another. And I have a great example that proves this.
I wrote a series of sales emails for a gym. We spent a good amount of time talking about the audience, their wants, fears, motivations. I segmented the mailing list and wrote three emails tailored for each section.
The emails achieved an overall response rate of 33%. Pretty good.
Now, that gym owner also had two other gyms in different areas with different demographics and they decided to send the same email out to their other gym mailing lists.
Guess what? The response rate dropped to 10% which isn’t a terrible result. But by spending a little more on letters designed for each gym’s demographic, they would have seen a much better ROI. Proving that tailored copy is worth the investment.
6. Anyone can write
Yes, anyone can put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and spit out words. But not everyone can copywrite. Great copywriting relies on:
a natural ability to express yourself
an inquisitive mind
the capacity to imagine yourself in your audience’s situation
All so you can write copy that will stop people in their tracks, engage them to the end and get them to do something (usually click, call or buy).
That takes training, experience and skill. And not everyone has that.
7. Copywriters are Grammar Nazis
Yes, copywriters must provide professional, accurate copy that people can understand. And grammar is integral to this.
But when it comes to the rules of language, some copywriters toe the line far more than others.
While I believe that writing must be understandable and that grammar helps us achieve this, I also think language is fluent and that it can be playful and used creatively to make an impact.
Which means bending the rules from time to time and leaving your Waffen SS uniform firmly in the closet.
Now you know what’s real and what’s not in the world of copywriting, you’ve got another profession you can call on to promote your business. Just don’t ask us if we can do your copyright.