What Does A Copywriter Do?

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This is a question I often get asked at business networking events.  Sometimes this is followed by me clarifying that it is nothing to do with intellectual property.  Copywriting and copyright – not the same thing but an understandable confusion, I suppose.

This type of confusion may explain why the difference that a professional Copywriter can make to your business is not always fully appreciated.  People rarely question the value of hiring a Web Designer – they self-evidently have technical and creative skills that smaller businesses often lack.  But writing seems to be different.

Business owners and leaders have a detailed understanding of what their businesses do.  And, because we all learn to write at school, putting that understanding together as the content for the website or corporate brochure isn’t something they feel they need to pay somebody to do.

There are a couple of problems here.  The first is time.  Many Designers I have spoken to express frustration that customers who generate their own copy usually struggle to find time to put content together alongside their other responsibilities.  Deadlines get compressed and quality suffers as a result.

More importantly, however, a professional will do the job better. It is often easy to spot websites where companies have produced their own copy.  Assuming there are no spelling and grammar mistakes (not always the case, sadly), content is often quite a long description of everything that the company does.

Often, the first thing a Copywriter does is decide what doesn’t need to be written at all.  Any publication or website needs a clear purpose and message – anything not directly related to that is just clutter.  A Copywriter will work with you to identify the critical messages about your business.  A Copywriter will also try to look at your products or services through your customers’ eyes: what benefits and selling points are going to address their issues? What language will they find compelling?

Providing information and communicating are not the same thing.  Communication is about organising information and using language in a way that enhances the reader’s understanding and inspires them to do something.  This is the essence of what a Copywriter does.

To paraphrase Eric Morecambe: we use the right words in the right order to help organisations improve their sales and performance.  Put like that, it doesn’t seem quite so dispensable, does it?

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