A copywriter writes copy that influences readers in some way. It could be copy that entices them to find out more about you or to buy your product; that educates them about a particular subject; or that entertains them. Whatever the desired outcome, there’s a common theme: that of making something memorable and building trust with your audience.
A good copywriter will help you identify what to write about (and what not). In a manner and tone that’s true to your business. They will take into account your wider business strategy and ambitions. They will relish the challenge of writing for channels as wide ranging as websites, magazine articles, blogs, newsletters, brochures, case studies, press releases, speeches and whitepapers.
Isn’t it easier to write my own copy?
Writing your own copy is often seen as the most appropriate way to engage with your audience. However, it can soon become a painful, never-quite-finished task. There’s a number of reasons why.
Firstly, time. Even for those who really enjoy writing, it’s an activity that often gets pushed to the back burner.
Secondly, perspective. When you’re so passionate about your business, it can be incredibly difficult to write about it both objectively and with your customer, not your business, in mind.
Thirdly, knowledge. When you are expert in a subject, there’s a tendency to live in the detail which can easily overwhelm or confuse your audience.
With an aptitude for assuming the client’s perspective, an external copywriter can work at pace to capture your expertise in compelling headlines and clear copy.
How to find the best copywriter for your project
Once you’re sold on the idea of calling on a copywriter’s support, how do you determine who’s the best fit for your business?
Seven questions which assess whether a copywriter is right for your project
- Can they offer a breadth of examples of their work? A good copywriter will be able to turn their hand to writing about any subject. Their job is not to be expert in any particular field; but to engage with specialists within your organisation, and translate their messages in a clear and compelling way for your wider audience. Asking to see a breadth of examples from their portfolio will demonstrate they are comfortable in adapting different tones of voice and for different mediums. Even better if they are able to support their credentials with client testimonials.
- Can they demonstrate an understanding of your business? Do they get what you’re trying to achieve? Are they able to put themselves in the shoes of your audience? A copywriter may well write excellent copy but it’s of little value if they haven’t taken the time to understand your business and the needs and perspectives of your particular audience.
- Do they have a wider commercial awareness? Marketing and communications, whilst at the heart of any successful business, are never isolated activities. Does your copywriter have a wider understanding of the challenges your business is facing? With their client ‘hat’ on, are they able to see where action needs to be taken in other areas of your business – Product Development, Business Development or Sales – that might be needed as a result of a marketing project? A professional copywriter who has a wider commercial understanding will add significant value to any communications project and its eventual success.
- Are they an effective project manager? One of the key benefits of outsourcing any project is the reassurance that it’s in a safe pair of hands and requires little input from you. An important value add is that a copywriter can manage a project in its entirety – chivvying along internal stakeholders and dealing with the to and fro with web developers, graphic designers and printers to ensure the project stays firmly on track.
- Are they brave enough to tell you if there are flaws in your ideas? Those inside your organisation may well be excited about promoting your anniversary year but it’s a milestone unlikely to appeal as much to those outside the business. A good copywriter will have an instinct for identifying those news stories and activities that are likely to get the best coverage; and will be honest with you if they believe your idea will gain little traction.
- Do they have an eye for detail? Of course there’s an expectation that your copywriter will provide copy that is free from spelling and grammatical errors. It’s also their job to ensure readability by using a good mix of short and longer sentences, active language and by removing hidden verbs (see 8 Principles to Transform Your Writing). More than that, their eye for detail should extend beyond the copy they write to the wider context within which it sits. Your copywriter should be alert to industry trends and to wider world events that might impact how your communications are received, their timing and the language you use.
- Can they offer useful feedback about your current marketing and communications? Employing the services of a copywriter can be likened to applying a fresh pair of eyes. What you and your team can so easily express about your business when speaking to clients often loses life when committed to writing. A copywriter will provide honest insight into what your communications say about your business. Does your tone of voice and personality shine through? Are there any gaps in your messaging or does it raise unanswered questions for your audience? Do you use terminology that could cause confusion? Is your audience compelled to take appropriate action? This applies as much to your ‘official’ communications (e.g. your website, newsletter and annual report) as it does to ‘informal’ communications such as team members’ social posts.
In short, using the services of a copywriter can help your business show the same authenticity in its written communications as it does in its face-to-face dealings with customers.
At Yellow Bird Marketing and Communications we’re committed to offering you the best possible experience in creating engaging content. Learn more about working with us.