What Exactly is a Copywriter Anyway?

When you hire a copywriter to write your Web site, direct mail, newsletter or any other marketing materials, do you know what to expect? Many business professionals don’t really know. They don’t understand the underlying value that a professional freelance copywriter brings to the table.

For instance, all writers do more than just slap a few words onto the page. It takes organization, research, planning, writing, editing and more writing to get the final piece right. But that’s where the similarities end.

One major difference between, say, a journalist, novelist, essayist, magazine writer and a professional copywriter, is that a copywriter must not only know how to write well, but he also needs to have business savvy in addition to knowledge about marketing, advertising, consumer behavior and public relations. This expertise is imperative when it comes to the organization and presentation of the copy.

The organization, presentation, and style all factor into how the material is written, so the reader experiences the correct emotions and finds the right information they needed, so the piece has the best chance of having an impact on their decisions. As an extreme example, can you imagine how successful (or unsuccessful in this case) a brochure for a sports car would be if it was written academically? Salesmanship would be lost to technicalities. And if the brochure were written for the technically savvy, it would have to be a manual to get enough information included to be effective.

Now ask yourself, what is the final product is used for? Marketing, advertising, public relations, education, training, entertainment, etc. Why? The target audience that your company intends to read these marketing materials has to be the focus of the copywriting. Knowing and understanding the desired goals that your company has for the marketing piece in addition to the target audience is essential to the success of the final message.

Another major difference is the ability to shift gears in writing level and style. One day your copywriter can be called on to prepare technical writing for industry professionals and the next day write about the same products or services for the average consumer. That’s a different set of goals, education level, end use and other factors to consider. Some typical styles used for copywriting include technical, corporate, editorial, direct response and conversational. For the most part, they all should have a marketing angle to promote the product or service that is central to the piece. It can be subtle or purposeful.

Why should a copywriter be able to switch gears as opposed to being a character actor of sorts? For one it’s an effective use of time. The copywriter is already familiar with the material and can step in and get the material written more efficiently. Another reason is that each copywriter brings their own personal style with them and by having the same copywriter, or a few similarly styled copywriters, producing material for your company, it will help bring a coherent message to your customers.

Other skills that many freelance copywriters can assist you with include marketing planning and design/layout advice. While most copywriters don’t wear more than one hat, their knowledge and experience working with words in the marketing field give them a unique view. And being detached from your specific business should allow them the ability to step back and see the larger picture or get closer to see the micro-view as well.

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