To define one thing, it’s useful to compare it to another. So, how does copywriting differ from marketing?
You can consider them two faces of the same coin, but there are still slight differences. With marketing, you can be extremely creative, display your products and services, and engage your target audience indirectly. That’s because content marketing is literally a marketplace for words, where it’s up to the customer to decide which stalls in the marketplace to peruse, and which products (i.e., words) to ultimately purchase. With copywriting, it’s a slightly different story. The customer is still being sold words, but the words have been personalised, crafted with him or her specifically in mind. Copywriting aims at tailoring a perfectly harmonious experience for the customer; he/she is the target audience both as an individual and as a cluster of needs. The point is, copywriting should give consumers a sense that the brand really cares about them and caters to their individual needs.
Now, let’s take a step back from this comparison and ask: What is copywriting? And what is a brand?
“The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything,” says David Ogilvy.
In Oxford Dictionaries, copywriting is defined as “the activity or occupation of writing the text of advertisements or publicity material,” and a brand is “a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name” and “a particular identity or image regarded as an asset.” Those in the field, such as the people who work for platforms like Copyblogger, regard copywriting as a full-blown craft. A brand is essentially an identity, and a successful copywriter handles a brand well by learning the right tools.
The content used in marketing and copywriting can be one and the same, but you’ll take two slightly different approaches. If your brand identity is centred on handbags and purses, for instance, you may choose to market your brand using a digital method (social media, Google ads, etc.) instead of a printed one (brochures, etc.).
Your headlines should be flashy and catchy. You could use a model or take pictures of the bag in different situations, or you could come up with a creative video capturing the essence of a lost bag in the city streets and metros, and how it will always find its way to its owner.
Your ad could be aimed at women, men, or children, but the target demographic is usually a subset of the entire population, distinguished by some feature(s), such as age, class, gender, etc. Needless to say, you want the copywritten text that you commission to help your product resonate with the people most likely to use it.
The importance of tailoring your content, service, or product for your customers cannot be overstated. By doing so, you’re validating them and establishing your brand’s integrity. They’ll walk away thinking, “Finally, a brand that speaks for and to us.” That is the slight difference between copywriting and marketing. Joanna Wiebe summarises the process cleverly: “Your job is not to write copy. Your job is to know your visitors, customers, and prospects so well, you understand the situation they’re in right now, where they’d like to be, and exactly how your solution can and will get them to their ideal self.”
For an overview, here are two points copywriters should keep in mind:
Customer Over SEO
Like Harvey Mackay says, “If you wish others to believe in you, you must first convince them that you believe in them.” Using SEO keywords is undoubtedly important for marketing your products and services, but it isn’t everything. Tailoring your content to current and potential customers should be the priority when creating a brand identity. SEO words come next in your copywriting strategy. Here are five brands that have a brand identity, care for their customers, and have a distinctive, highly individualized tone: Reformation, Sakara, Amazon, Airbnb, and S’well.
You’re Not a Salesman
Not really news, eh? A salesman’s job is different than yours. You’re more of a customer-pleaser than a salesman. Your brand identity revolves around making your customer feel special and valued on an individual level. Your brand identity depends on the finesse with which you tailor your product or service for this or that customer rather than targeting a group of people who need a vacuum cleaner or a doctor who needs a certain drug. You’re doing more than that: You’re directly addressing your customer’s needs and turning them into a repeat client.
Last but not least: “Copy is not written. Copy is assembled.” As Eugene Schwartz says in these two sentences, a copywriter shouldn’t construct copy word for word; rather, a copywriter should collect information about his or her target demographic and address this audience as though they’re one and the same.