Imagine this: After a decade of owning her own store, a woman wants to change careers. She passed high school English with all A’s, so she decides to be a journalist. But instead of going to school to learn about journalism, she writes some stories and creates her own online news site. A year later, she can’t understand why the local newspaper’s website continues to have more readers than her website.
Can you figure out why?
Most people realize that journalists earn a specialized degree. They learn how to find stories, interview people, and report on them appropriately for their magazines and newspapers. That makes sense to us because we know that colleges offer degrees in journalism.
But did you know that copywriting – like journalism – requires special training? Passing high school (or even college!) English class is not enough. Here’s what you need to know about copywriting.
What is Copywriting?
First we need to define “copy.” Copy is any written content that tries to persuade people to do a specific action. For businesses, that means any content used to promote, advertise, or market your business, products, or services.
Basically, anything you write for your business – press releases, brochures, websites – is copy.
Copywriting is simply the writing of that copy.
Why Do I Need a Copywriter?
You may not need a copywriter, but you at least need to know the basics of writing copy for your business. Here are a few things to consider:
- Are you a B2C or B2B company? Business-to-Client (B2C) companies sell their products or services to individual customers; restaurants and hair stylists operate B2C companies. Business-to-Business (B2B) companies, however, sell to other businesses; the company that make commercial kitchen appliances for restaurants is a B2B company. You need to know the differences. B2C copy will likely be more personable and relational; B2B copy can be more informational and statistical.
- Who’s reading your content? Your press releases will be read by various media outlets. Your newsletter goes to people who’ve asked to hear from you. Your annual Christmas sale flier could be seen by people who’ve never even heard of you. Each of those groups of people should be addressed differently. Know how you want to talk to each group.
- How’s your grammar? There, their, they’re. You’re and your. Do you know the difference between – and … (or what they mean)? At the very least, you need to make sure your copy is clean. If it’s confusing or unclear, people will throw it away or leave your website. Don’t give them a reason to do either! If you’re not confident in your grammar and punctuation, ask for help.
- Have you invited your reader to do something? It doesn’t matter what you’re writing, make sure to include a CTA – Call to Action. In your press release, include a line that says, “For more information, call…” In your newsletter, make sure you have a link to your Facebook page or website. And don’t forget to tell people where and when they can take advantage of your sale/special when you mail out those postcards.
If you don’t have the time to investigate these topics, or if you don’t have anyone on staff who can do it for you, it might be time to consider a copywriter. Without one, you run the risk of your mailers getting tossed in the trash or your newsletter deleted from a client’s inbox. But making time to research and understand these topics will help you create better copy that gets better results.
Do you still have questions? Contact me! Let me know how I can help.
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