Most people think that to be a copywriter you only have to be able to write.
Of course, that’s a big part of the job. But writing isn’t just writing. There’s a lot more to it than that.
A professional copywriter does several things really well:
It’s that last one that I want to look at.
Copywriters make great listeners
Listening doesn’t seem to be all that difficult, but effective listening is.
Let me explain.
In fact, I’ll let Stephen Covey explain:
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.”
During a normal conversation, you take turns to speak and listen. As you listen you formulate your response, i.e. you’re listening to reply.
But when you’re a copywriter you have to be 100% absorbed in what your client is telling you.
During my initial meetings with clients, I let them do all the talking. After all, the purpose of the meeting is to gather a brief for the job.
Letting the client to all the talking
Some clients think it’s strange that I just sit and listen.
They get that I need to gather information from them, but they usually expect me to fire questions at them.
I do, but that comes later.
First and foremost, I listen and take notes with the intent of understanding their business, their products/services, their customers and the goals of their project.
That’s a lot to take in.
Only once I have fully understood all of that do I start asking questions.
But my silence allows me to do more than just understand what they and their customers need; it also allows me to understand them.
Hearing what your client really wants
The copy I write must reflect the values of the business. It must echo its personality and brand and the best way to do that is to listen to the way the people involved in the business-speak.
This is especially true for smaller companies that don’t have brand guidelines.
For example, I met with a business consultant who’s looking for new content for his website.
The nature of his business means he has to strike up a strong relationship with his clients. It’s a very hands on business, so it’s important his web copy reflects him as a person. Therefore, the content must ‘speak’ as he does so his personality comes through.
That can only be achieved by immersing myself in his way of speaking, so his turn of phrase, vocabulary and personality are captured within the content.
It’s also important to work out what your client really wants because that not always the same as what they say. Understanding their audience is vital because if your client wants more leads but just wants to talk about how great his/her business is, it’s not going to work.
Sometimes, as the copywriter, it’s my job to tell the client they are wrong and that if they want to get the most from their investment they should write what their reader wants to read.
You see copywriting is a lot more than stringing together a few grammatically correct sentences that satisfy your SEO goals and sell your products or services. It’s also about representing you and your business through words.
That’s why paying a few quid for a web page, email or newsletter will get you nowhere.
It’s tempting to cut corners when one quote for your five-page website comes back at £250 and another at £1200, but you need to look at the bigger picture.
You’re investing in the future of your business.
Do you want it to look cheap or professional?
Only you can decide.
Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting, is ready to lend an ear to help you achieve your content goals. Call her on +44(0)1449 779605.