A guide for business folk who don’t yet know what a copywriter is, what they do and how they can help your company
If you’ve stumbled across the job title ‘copywriter’ during your ‘how to do marketing’ research, but you’re unsure what copywriters do, you’re in the right place. In this article you’ll find out exactly what copywriters do, what type of businesses hire them and what copywriters write. Let’s start by answering the question: what do copywriters do?
What does a copywriter do?
A copywriter writes the words you see on marketing materials, such as brochures, advertisements and websites. Well-written copy persuades the target audience to take action and that action could be to buy, download, sign up, read on, or click here. Encouraging an audience to do those things is achieved through a combination of persuasive writing and sales techniques. Examples of these are repetition, power of three, scarcity and answering objections/questions.
When a company wants to communicate a message to their target audience, a copywriter will research and listen to the audience. This helps the writer understand how to craft copy that speaks directly to that audience. So even though a copywriter writes words, the job involves psychology, marketing and business skills, too.
What type of business needs a copywriter?
Any business in any industry can use a copywriter. Over the years I’ve written for solar panel companies, independent escorts, beer brands, wedding coordinators and even other copywriting businesses. So, there really are no restrictions on who can and can’t hire a copywriter. Saying that, there is a right time to work with a copywriter.
Businesses should be clear on their target audience, differences and business aim before hiring a writer. This is the minimum amount of information a copywriter needs to do a decent job. If you’ve got this sorted, you’re in a position to work with a copywriter.
Of course, some business owners prefer writing their own marketing copy. And they ace it. If you’re confident you can write persuasively so people take action, go for it. If you’re not one of them — perhaps you hate writing or don’t have the time — then hire a copywriter.
Digital marketing agencies also hire copywriters. Some may have one or two in-house, but if they get an overflow of work they’ll book extra copywriters for a specific project or advertising campaign that needs copy.
How a copywriter can help you
Having covered what a copywriter does (write marketing materials by researching your target audience) and who they write for (any business publishing marketing materials) let’s look at what some of those marketing materials are, and where a copywriter fits into the picture.
A website without words is like dealing with a sales assistant who refuses to speak. By working with a copywriter you’ll have messaging on your site that gives customers the information they’re searching for, introduces your company/product and highlights why you’re better than the competition.
Read more about hiring a website copywriter.
About page copy
Writing about your own company or business is difficult. It’s a ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ situation. Getting a copywriter on board can uncover interesting and unique things about your company’s story that you and your staff may be blind to.
If you’re fed up of wrestling with this copy, read my tips on how to write an about us page.
People who sign up to your email list are people who want to hear from you and your company, so it’s important to email them often. When it comes to email campaigns there are a couple of ways a copywriter can help. Some copywriters offer a full email strategy service, creating an entire email sequence. Others can be briefed to only write the message itself.
Blogs demonstrate your industry knowledge and expertise, while giving customers the information they want about the thing you do. Putting a blog together — from concept to editing and publishing — takes anywhere between two hours and a whole day, which is time some business owners simply can’t spare. You can commission a copywriter to handle it for you. Copywriters may be happy to take a one-off blogging job, or you might set up a regular arrangement using a blog package if there are lots of articles and resources you want written.
Similar to email campaigns, it’s possible to find copywriters out there who work to create entire social media strategies for your company, while others only write the copy for your posts or your paid social media ads.
Copywriters can put together short scripts for radio adverts, TV ads and promotional videos that you use in your marketing or even internal comms training. In fact, writing radio scripts was my favourite module in the copywriting diploma I completed because you can get pretty kooky and imaginative.
Sales letters and sales pages
Sales letters are the long ones you get from companies and charities through your letter box. Sales pages are the digital marketing equivalent. They’re usually 5,000+ words and take the reader from cold lead to customer. To do this a copywriter researches your target audience to within an inch of their lives and (ideally) runs tests to find out what does/doesn’t work with your audience before sending out a final version. Other naems for this type of writing are ‘direct marketing’ and ‘conversion copywriting’.
Writing and sending press releases isn’t one of the most obvious jobs a copywriter can do, but as PR sits within marketing it’s something more and more copywriters offer. So, if you’re looking for a well-written press release that grabs the attention of journalists, you may want to book a copywriter with PR and journalism experience to put it together.
Copywriters are most traditionally associated with writing the copy for adverts. After all, the sole purpose of an advert is to persuade. A copywriter will usually team up with a designer, making sure the image and words work together for whatever print or digital ad is being created.
Copywriters can also help with:
- Product descriptions and names
- Award submissions
- Internal communications
- Brand tone of voice guides
- Company names and taglines
- White papers and reports
Copywriters can do a lot in terms of helping you put together the messages and materials you need to promote your business. And these are just the most common ones. I’ve spoken to colleagues who have been commissioned to write dating adverts and eulogies. Those jobs definitely aren’t the norm, but it shows that anytime you need to sell something — an idea, a memory, a message — a copywriter is the professional you need.
From knowing what copywriters do, to hiring one
With a clearer understanding of what copywriters do and the type of things you can commission them to write for you, the next question is how do you hire one? For that answer you need to read, How to Hire A Good Content Writer.