It’s one of those things I get asked at least a few times a year – usually on the school run or at social gatherings (when such things were still happening):
‘What does a copywriter actually do then?’
And I get it.
It’s still a not-very-well-known-about profession (unless you happen to work in marketing. Or you avidly consumed Mad Men – which may have skewed your view of copywriting somewhat, to something far more sassily dressed and alcohol-fuelled than it actually is!).
So the reaction when I say, ‘We write for businesses and help them use clear copy to grow their services and impact’, is usually: ‘Oh, you mean ads and slogans, that kind of thing?’
Or they think it’s something to do with trademarks.
I’m not alluding to you here (of course). Given that you work in or around comms, and may well have worked with a copywriter before.
You know we work with words.
You know we can help with writing your marketing copy.
But you may not know that we can help out with quite a few other things, too – over and above ‘making your words sound good’.
So here’s a quick run down of some of the other tasks we can lend a hand with. Including a few that might not immediately spring to mind when you first think about hiring someone to help with your words.
Copywriter hat #1: Excavator of information
Let’s imagine it’s the start of a writing project. You’re about to kick things off. And you’re mulling over the information you need to hand to your writer so they can do their thing. Like: who you’re talking to, what your copy needs to achieve, and what makes you different or better than others in your sector.
You may be able to pull that all together into a clear, insightful brief (great if you can!). But sometimes – quite often in fact – the more detailed information that’s needed to write a piece of copy is hidden in an MD’s head, or the head of a ‘subject expert’.
So before any writing happens, often as copywriters we have to be excavators too, and interview people to dig into, and unearth, the information we need.
Not sure what details to give us? Get us to talk to the key-information-holders first hand. We’ll make sure we go away with all the info we need to write the most effective copy.
Copywriter hat #2: Organiser of thoughts
Next comes ‘the thinking part of copywriting’.
The bit where we look through all the information relating to your project. Immerse ourselves in the source material. And do all the other research that goes on behind the scenes before any actual writing starts.
It’s probably the most ‘hidden’ part of what a copywriter does. And one of the most important.
And if you’re an expert in a business (because you work in it), it’s the part that’s not always that easy to do yourself.
You might be ‘too close to the wood to see the trees’ – and find it hard to filter and get clear on the story you need to tell.
An external writer, on the other hand, is unhindered by the ‘curse of knowledge’ so in a good place to sift, sort and think about things from your customers’ perspective.
So if you’re struggling with getting your thoughts in order, hand the blurb over to us. We can absorb and assess it for you (alongside the brief) and pull it into a suggested structure or copy platform for you to sign off, as a starting point.
Copywriter hat #3: Client researcher
Pretty sure you’ll have heard the frequently-wheeled-out bit of advice about getting clear on your ideal clients?
It’s written about in eleventy million posts on LinkedIn. And it’s no secret that the best copy comes from writing in a targeted way to the people you want to reach.
But audience personas and profiles can only take you so far.
Ideally (if time and budget allow) you want to go further, to really hone in on your customers and what they care about.
What are they struggling with right now? How do they decide whether to buy a service like yours? What do they gain from working with you in particular?
And the best way to find all that out? Talk to them first hand.
As experienced copywriters, we can conduct client research interviews for you. And then use those insights to weave authentic customer language back into your comms, to make them more interesting and persuasive.
Copywriter hat #4: Storyteller
Which brings us onto another oft-talked-about-topic: storytelling.
Unsurprisingly, lots of organisations are tapping into it as a way to build their brands.
Because stories-done-well have that amazing potential to create an emotional connection in your copy (packing much more of a punch than a straight-forward selling spiel).
You can use stories to weave examples into your content, bring what you do to life, and underline your messages in a way that helps people connect with you on a deeper, more authentic level.
So a copywriter worth their salt needs to be a great storyteller too. Which means knowing how to interview people, and shape what we’re told into compelling narratives, case studies and quotes.
Copywriter hat #5: Copy steward
Lastly, being an outsider to your business, an external writer is also well placed to take a step back and take a bigger picture look at your comms.
How are your words faring overall? Do they read like they’re coming from the same organisation? If not, what needs to change? What’s your agreed tone? What kind of vocabulary do you want people to be using?
An experienced wordsmith can help you get clear on all that. So you can get your ducks in a row by reworking things yourself – or ask us (your trusty copywriters) to do that for you.
In short: if it’s it to do with words, there are lots of ways we can help. Ask for more details if you’d like our input on any of the above.
Or if you just want us to ‘make your words sound good’, we’ll happily get on with that, too.