What should a copywriter do for you?


A copywriter’s job is tough. But in principle, what they do is quite simple: They put together the words that will sell your product or service to your customers.


I say they but I mean we.


And I say simple but I mean complex.


But for the purposes of answering the question “What should a copywriter do for you”, a copywriter should:


  1. Listen to what you want to say, to whom and through what medium
  2. Take a good long hard look at your brand, read your brand guidelines (if you have any) and check through your previous communications to the market so that anything new that we create stays on-brand
  3. Test, if possible, your product or service (taste it if it’s a food, for example) to make it easier to write from the heart (or gut)
  4. Research your brand and the brands of your competitors and heroes to see how others approach the same challenges elsewhere in the world
  5. Examine your target audience to get an understanding of what they like, how they speak, what they hate so that the ad or copy uses language they use and trust
  6. Stare at a blinking cursor and try to create an interesting, exciting idea or an execution of an existing campaign concept


Ultimately, we take your woody, wordy strategy and turn it into something relevant to, and compelling for, your customers.


So you talk, I’ll write.


Easy, isn’t it?



How to make a great ad


Write a brief and give it to me.


And money. Lots of money.



Should your product or service use social media?


This is an easy one.


If your customers are active on social media, then yes, you probably should be there, entertaining, informing, interacting and increasing ties between your audience and your brand. If, for example, you sell ice cream then you know that MOST of your customers will be on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram so get in there.


On the other hand, if your customers are not active on social media, then no, you shouldn’t be there and would be better served investing in other types of communication. So if, for example, you sell accountancy services then you’d be wiser to send out newsletters, blogs or eDMs with budget taxation updates and that sort of thing. Yes, I know, you might want to be on LinkedIn but to be honest I think that’s more of a personal career or freelancer thing.



How creativity out-guns media spend


It’s an age-old argument and I still see it every day in my job: Which is more important – media spend or creative investment?


I used to work for an ad agency in Perth, Western Australia and the creative director there (hi John) used to tell clients at pitches “We’re creative because we don’t believe you should shout 100 times to be heard once”.


Wise words and you get what he’s saying, which is important because shouting 100 times is getting to be bloody expensive.


And pointless: One of the inescapable truths is that you are more likely to be in a plane crash and survive or to win the lottery than you are to click on a banner ad, according to Business Insider.


Hold on, what?


That’s not because banners are a poor media choice – they’re not – but because they’ve become wallpaper. Easily ignored. Not relevant to me or to you. Not compelling enough to react to.


Before you get all cocky about how successfully YOUR banners have been, it is also a fact that up to 50 per cent of clicks on mobile banner ads are accidental (GoldSpot Media).


Yes, all of those thousands you have spent on banner ads are completely wasted. Well, except that they help to build the brand. Unless they are killing it by being annoying, of course.


BUT if you spent a little more on getting a great creative team to come up with a good idea that is well executed (in other words, keep your hands off it) then, suddenly, you won’t have to shout 100 times to be heard once.


This is true for ALL media types. So stop spending so much on getting in the faces of your audience and spend a little more on engaging them. On making them like you. On making them want to know more. On making you irresistible to them.


Before I go, consider too, the damage you do to you brand when you really piss people off with a crap ad. Or a condescending tone.


Now, spend some money on me and my friends and we’ll do it right for you.



When NOT to use a copywriter


This is easy. The only time you should not use a copywriter is when you (or, often, your junior) just can’t let us do our jobs.


Find a good copywriter, brief us, listen to our advice and, for feck’s sake, resist the temptation to tweak so that more of your boxes are ticked. Because what you’ll end up with is a crap, over-complex, banal piece of communication based on a watered-down idea.


And a feeling of personal dissatisfaction.


And a pissed-off copywriter.



Where should you advertise?


Media planning and buying is a science, we’re told.


But having read dozens of media strategies and sat through countless presentations it occurs to me that this is actually the easiest part of the advertising task.


Ok, I know there’s room for creativity, imagination and innovation. I know there are opportunities to spot and to capitalise upon. I know that every so often, a media person will shows signs of genius (an example of this is when Guinness completely took over Twickenham with signage, promotions and mobile advertising during the Heineken Cup Final a couple of years ago).


But essentially finding the best medium for a product or service or whatever is about digging deeply into the audience and finding out who they are, what they like, what they watch, what they read, what they listen to, what they talk about, where they go, what they do, what they eat, what they think, where they get their information, what they do for kicks…. Then, when you know who and what they are, you can place your message right in front of them, in the middle of their TV shows or YouTube videos, in their magazines, on the roads they travel, on their public transport and on whatever, wherever and whenever they go.


Then you can negotiate a better deal from the media owner.


Then you can measure its effectiveness.


Ok then, maybe it’s not so straightforward.



Bill was right: Content is king.


When Bill Gates said this in 1996 I don’t think he realised just how many times it would be quoted.


But it’s true. Content is king.


Many companies spend a considerable amount of effort in developing websites and online marking campaigns to generate business.


These are their virtual shop fronts but often the problem is that while the design and format looks great, the content is letting you down. Usually because you’ve written it yourself or recycled your old brochure text or, heaven forbid, an out-of-context sales presentation. That’s not good enough. You need copy on your website that works at least as hard as the design so, for goodness’ sake, get a copywriter. They will turn your text into relevant, compelling, hard-working copy with all the keywords and phrases you need to climb up search engine results. They’ll also give it shape and form and make it interesting for visitors to read.


Bill Gates also commented that you need to change your content regularly, or at least add to it so get a blog and post interesting articles regularly. Like this one.


You can bring customers back to your website time and time again by publishing new, relevant, interesting content every so often. This could be as simple as featuring a different product or service from your portfolio or it could be as detailed as researching and writing industry opinion pieces. Or feature case studies, industry news, partner white papers, press releases and other related news stories. But get them professionally written.


Content IS king, so always invest in

good copy.


Your majesty.


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