A potential client asked me, “Do you have any experience writing about debt management?”
I must confess, I did not. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
“No,” I said, “but in the past, I’ve written for other clients whose business I initially knew nothing about.”
I was once hired to write blog articles for a paper company.
Their customer base was varied, ranging from professional printers, amateur scrapbookers, event planners, and brides-to-be. And their paper products were as varied as their customers, from plain-jane cardstock to specialty paper like vellum. Vellum?
And what did I know about the paper industry?
Zilch. Nada. Nothing.
But lack of industry knowledge didn’t stymie my production of weekly blog articles. Working with the company’s subject matter expert and performing my own research, I became a paper prodigy in no time at all.
However, even though my product knowledge initially was minimal, my copywriting knowledge wasn’t. And ultimately, that was why my client hired me, because I knew the marketing value of their blog.
With regular posting of articles that were educational, fun, and sprinkled with discount offers, the company grew their customer base and increased sales.
The same holds true for any other copywriting project, whether it be a landing page, a case study, or an email marketing campaign.
Knowledge of the industry is important, but, without a copywriter who’s familiar with the channel being used and how to write the copy to achieve specific results, you’re only solving half the problem.
Easy is a word that's easy to use for copywriters. Its meaning is clear: something’s not hard or difficult.
And who doesn't like easy?
Easy can be used in a lot of different ways to express all kinds of variations of easiness, like “an easy online application,” meaning there’ll be no great effort required by you to complete it, or “easy pickings,” meaning a particular item or items is readily available.
However it’s used, whether as an adjective or adverb, the message is clear: Using the word easy says to a reader, “Hey, you won’t encounter complexity here.”
For this reason, easy is a word that's an easy choice for copywriters. Made up of just four letters, it’s a particularly popular word in catalog copywriting, where word space is often restricted.
But consider this: Is your interpretation of easy the same as mine? More importantly, is your interpretation of easy the same as your customer’s?
Using “easy” when you write copy can sometimes be the easy way out. This catch-all term helps prospects understand that your product or service isn’t complicated, which is an excellent selling point to get across. But is it enough to convince prospects to buy?
What if your competitor’s product is easy, too? How do you differentiate your product’s ease from theirs? Try this: give details and concrete examples in your copy.
Let’s say you sell an app designed to streamline your potential customer’s client communications. Your copy states that the app is “easy to use.” But, what if you wrote instead, “Customers have told us that they downloaded the app and were accessing patient records in less than five minutes.”
Which copy version do you think would have prospects raising their eyebrows and nodding their heads? (Hint: the second one.)
Illustrating in your copy how easy your product or service is versus just saying that it’s easy makes copywriting more challenging, but your product's appeal will be greater because it stands out from the crowd.
I always thought that I wasn't creative. Creativity, in my mind, was reserved for painters like Van Gogh or writers like Hemingway. Not for a mere mortal like me. The closest I got to creativity, I think, was in my junior year of high school. I took an art course because I didn't want to take a shorthand class.
In art class, I discovered that I liked to draw, especially horses. But drawing did not come naturally to me. I imagined the greats just stood before their canvas or drawing pad and the art just flowed from them, without thought or effort. Not so for me. The art I produced resulted from repeated, mechanical, painstaking attempts to copy my subject. Make what I was trying to replicate have some resemblance to the actual model. But over the course of the school year, the more I practiced, the better I became. Rembrandt better? No. But improvement nonetheless. I felt I was beginning to "create."
Now, years later, as a freelance copywriter, I still often struggle with being “creative.” (Maybe not the best thing for a copywriter to be confessing, out here on the world wide web?)
But, based on what I learned back in my high school art class, creativity can be learned, and practiced.
And, like in my junior year of high school, I practice copywriting regularly with painstaking attempts to replicate the writing genius of the “artists” I follow.
By studying the likes of copywriters Bob Bly, Marcia Yudkin, or Eddie Shleyner, to name a few, I’m educating myself. Learning good habits and methods, which in turn will provide value to my clients.
And, coincidentally enough, the pros I just mentioned frequently refer to copywriting greats that they hold in high esteem. So maybe they, too, have had their own struggles with creativity? If so, I’m in excellent company!
Suzanne Quigley - Copywriter