“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey
A note to all copywriters out there – if you’re not prepared to listen, your copy will suck, big time.
Active listening is a skill not everyone has mastered.
A lot of ‘copywriters’ (which usually turn out to be content writers*) take a basic brief (what do you sell?) and write a generic blurb to a faceless audience (faceless because they didn’t both to ask who they are).
This is how a professional copywriter does it.
During the initial briefing, they are 100% absorbed in what their client is telling them.
Yes, they have a lot of questions to ask, but once asked they let the client speak uninterrupted.
Letting the client do all the talking
Some clients think it’s strange that I just sit and listen.
Initially, I listen and take notes with the intent of understanding their business, their products/services, their customers and the goals of their project.
It’s only once I have fully understood all of that do I start asking questions. Again, once asked I sit and listen.
The copy I write has to go beyond selling. It must also 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.
Plus, active listening means the result is exactly what the client wanted rather than what I think they wanted.
For example, I recently 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 crucial his web copy reflects him as a person. Therefore, the content must ‘speak’ as he does so his personality comes through.
I can only achieve that by immersing myself in his way of speaking to capture his turn of phrase, vocabulary and personality within the content.
Copywriting is more than just writing
A copywriter has to achieve a lot with words:
- Formulating coherent arguments
- Satisfying your SEO goals
- Creating interest in your products or services
- Highlighting the benefits you offer your clients
- Conveying your brand/business personality
- Overcoming objections
That’s why paying a few quid for a web page, email or newsletter will get you nowhere.
You’re investing in the future of your business.
Only you can decide whether you want to cheap or professional.
*A copywriter is a specialist in advertising and marketing content. They craft persuasive messages (short and long copy) to increase brand awareness, prompting a specific audience to take action. In contrast, a content writer writes content that’s more journalistic.
Sally Ormond is a professional copywriter, a great listener and a damn fine writer.