Create time and space for yourself (but don’t wait for magic to strike)
Writing persuasive and selling copy is one of the most important but misunderstood elements of any marketing or PR campaign, yet can often become an afterthought behind audience targeting and campaign activation (two vital areas in their own right).
One of the reasons for this is a misconception that writing great copy comes from a mysterious creative process, which can only happen when the moment is right. Given the constant time pressures all marketers and publicists face, the answer to the question ‘when will I have time to be creative’, the answer is most likely ‘never’.
Happily, writing effective copy is more science than art, and by following a clear process – and creating enough time and space to focus, you can crack even the trickiest of briefs. Inspiration may follow, but wait for it and it will never arrive.
Understand Your Audience
This is the most important tip of all, and often the easiest to overlook. It’s natural when writing copy -when writing anything in fact, to talk from our own perspective and focus on what we want to say. Given the primary aim of all marketing copy is to sell your product, it’s vital that you take an audience-first approach. Ask your self – do you know who you are talking to? What do they care about? Where will your copy be seen?
A usual rule of thumb is to think about communication objectives and tone. Your communication objectives are what you want your audience to know – what is the key information they need to take away. This should be straightforward but it’s surprising what you might find by going back to the original brief and product, and thinking about this from the consumer’s perspective. What you care about may well not be what matters to them, and vice versa.
Your tone is what emotion you want to evoke. People response to emotion first, facts and information second. Even in the most technical, detailed copy, you should have a guiding reader response in mind – do you want them to be intrigued? Excited? Satisfied? Amused? Tone is what makes your copy stick.
Take a collaborative approach
Along with the myth that writing copy is a mysterious, ‘difficult’ craft, the corollary of this is that it must be attempted and perfected alone. By seeing it as a purely creative exercise, we are perhaps subconsciously attempting to imitate the genius writer, holed up in their garret, suffering for their art.
I am certainly guilty of following this line of thought, but the truth is good copy is good communication – and it’s almost impossible to assess how effective your copy is communicating what you want to say without an audience. Some of the most creative and original campaigns I have worked on have arisen from this group approach – not through brainstorming sessions (shudder) or heavily structured processes, but an honest exchange of ideas and opinions, with both the writer and audience for your communication.
Test, fail, learn, repeat
How do you know when you have a good idea? When can you be sure a piece of design or copy will cut through, or if it will fall flat? Is gut feel and your own judgement enough? Especially when you are required to commit time and budget to it, without the surety of results?
The short answers are – you don’t, you can’t, and probably not. But the good news is you don’t need to rely on your own judgement and, thanks to the easy access to limited but valuable micro-audiences through social media, you don’t always need to get it right first time. Any way that can find to test your creative and / or storyboard your concept is time very well spent. This can be quantitative through A/B testing via Meta advertising or running polls on social media, or qualitive – even a small sample pool of colleagues or friends (if well chosen and trusted) – can offer valuable feedback to conform (or not) whether your moment of inspiration is in fact to be trusted.
Develop a critical eye (and take inspiration from everywhere)
There’s no short-cut for this tip – but it’s essential for producing really outstanding creative work on behalf of your clients. Inspiration is all around you, but with WFH now an established part of our lives, it’s harder than ever to immerse yourself in experiences, culture and yes advertising that helps you see how messaging and creativity is used elsewhere. Out of home advertising is often a broad brush tool, but it’s the simplest way to see the way a wide variety of companies & sectors talk to consumers. TV advertising may be beyond your budget but the creative approach taken from an ad that stops you in your tracks
And it’s not just advertising – immerse yourself in culture, trends, debate, design ideas, tech. An open mind means an open eye to the messaging and ideas that shape our world. We have a part to play in that.
Written by Stephen Dumughn, Marketing Director of Midas and former Marketing Director at Bonnier Books UK, Stephen has a rich history of over two decades crafting award-winning marketing campaigns. Prior to joining Midas in August, Stephen expertly managed marketing efforts across all adult divisions of Bonnier during a phase of remarkable growth and expansion, and whose leadership played a pivotal role in the prosperous introduction of the company’s digital direct-to-consumer strategy.