Every inch matters. Every dollar counts. So why make copywriting the unitasker of your marketing strategy.
Copywriting is simple. That’s the general consensus. Fingers to keyboard, subject matter with an outline and a clear plan of action, and boom. Copy. Simple. Simple and wrong. Copywriting is a strategic solution to any and every small business, and it is the glue of marketing strategy.
Copywriting, A Sweet Science
When I first ventured into the business world, I heard the word marketing. I immediately knew that everyone had a unique definition of it, so it was fair to assume that most people were not actually doing marketing correctly. Almost 15 years later, and I know that to be true. And unaware that marketing can mean so many things, business owners, entrepreneurs, and companies worldwide buy watered-down, superficial, high-cost, low-return “marketing” products and just hope they work. Copywriting is one of those purchases, because like marketing, copywriting can mean just about anything.
But there’s so much to writing copy. And the greatest tool of marketing is and always will be communication! Nothing will ever communicate better than words. So copywriting has become marketing gold, and small business glue.
The Science of Communication
Have you ever read an article or a photo caption that just grabbed you? The content you liked sent you on Google searches for new terms or places, it made you look up that artist or product, and it felt like the author was talking to you? It happened to me today, when I came across a photo of a famous baseball player holding a bleeding child. I saw the photo, looked up the story, read a couple more articles and watched a news story about the surviving child, now a man my age. I even looked up a jersey price.
Knowing what hooked me is the science behind copywriting.
Headlines Are Everything
A tycoon of advertising once said that “five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar”. Imagine the power in that truth. A headline has the ability to grab you. It can lead you in. And that extends beyond articles. In today’s digital world, where algorithms lord over search volumes, the headline hook has moved into bylines, subheadings, social media posts, and catchy website phrasing. But the headline is still as much the draw as it ever was.
Say Something – Don’t Decapitate Your POV
But the article still has to have a point of view, a target audience, and an offer to teach, inform, lead, or train. Basically, copywriting has to say something. A heading without a body is a conversation killer, and could actually hurt your brand and business. Imagine an article like this one you’re reading, offering to teach you something about copywriting. You click the link and begin reading. And you get 1,000 words of click-bait, self-deprecation, and back-links to other things I’ve written… like an article on how to target an audience with content. Yes, I did that to be funny. But wouldn’t that be disheartening? And it would leave a bad taste in your mouth about the author, the company, or the site hosting that blog.
Content is only king when content is good. It doesn’t have to be professional level. It just can’t be hack marketing. People are smart. They can see through the garbage that fills their feed, and unless they are looking for garbage, they will throw bad content out.
Do Something – Write on TILT
Yep, an acronym. I hate how many of these exist in marketing, but I’m giving you this one because I actually use it. TILT is what guides my writing. And without the TILT directives, you’ve made true content, with a catchy headline, that does nothing for you or your target audience. So briefly, your copy must always be doing one or more of these:
Teach – Be an expert in a field or on a subject, and express that expertise to your reader. Teach them something, even if you’re writing a few sentences.
Inform – Give the reader information that they didn’t have before, on a subject they know. This happens a lot when peers write to one another… like if you’re a marketing pro and you’re reading this write now.
Lead – Take the reader somewhere specific. You’re calling them to an action on their part. Read this. Buy that. Go there. Follow me. Meet me.
Train – Training is the toughest one for me, because it merges all three of the others, but I still think it’s valuable, even if it’s not my strength yet. Training a reader means you’re perceived as the expert, you’re a source of information for your peers/colleagues, and you’re already a leader because the readers know where you’re trying to take them. So instead of positioning yourself, you’re positioning them. Stop doing this. Think this way. Practice these habits or skills.
So if I’ve given you nothing else today, write on TILT.
The Art of Copywriting
The science is everything to me in copywriting. I would rather read smart, intentional copy than beautifully written fluff. So I led with science. But there’s an art to this work that takes the science and makes it a true craft.
Find an Artist
Copywriters are writers. What I mean is that those people who execute professional copywriting are great writers, compelled to link a target with a product or service. Some copywriters own the business they write for. Others work for a company that sells the products or services. And then there are some who write copy professionally as a contractor. The best contractors have the skill to write about a subject they are not experts on, to an audience that they do not personally know. If you’re hiring a copywriter, find one of those.
When you find a pool of talented writers, make sure they know your strategy as a business. The business of executing a marketing strategy begins with actually having one, but all is lost if your talent doesn’t know the plan! Armed with a clear plan, gifted writers can change the course of your written content.
A Failure to Plan is…
You know that phrase, right? A failure to plan is a plan to fail. And unfortunately, the average small business just knows enough about marketing to fail. And business owners generally know even less about copywriting. So what is a small business to do, when they know they need marketing but they don’t know what they need.
Well, I’d hire Olive Group, but I am pretty biased. So ignore that for a moment.
Develop a plan. At Olive Group, we lead with marketing strategy. From there, we look into target research and analysis, brand development and awareness, and content development. And from those platforms, we offer marketing plans to our clients. For you, if you’re mapping out your work internally, just plan for a lot of work, execute a lot of it on your own time and dollar, and look for the best cost to benefit ratios you can find in a marketing plan. You can absolutely do it! It’s just hard work.
And every component in the marketing plan requires copywriting. The artistry here is that so much can be done within the plan that captures the imagination and goals of your target audiences.
Commissioned Artwork – Your ROI
But you’re a small business. You’re an owner, officer, and manager at a business that cannot afford for you to spend your time and money on frivolous artwork. You aren’t decorating the fourier. This is business marketing! So imagine having access to an artist than can pull off all kinds of tremendous artistry, and all they want is to capture your vision and goals?! Who wouldn’t want a Rembrandt made with them in mind? And what business wouldn’t want copywriting to be written under the banner of their brand truths, with their client and customer targets in mind? That’s the art and science of strategic copywriting. There is a real return on your investment, when you can spend wisely on excellent copywriting, tied into a great marketing plan and a clear set of target audiences.