Copywriting Strategy

Quick Lessons

There are four levels to copywriting:

  1. Messaging. Are you saying the right things to the right people? Are the offer, intent, and targeting aligned?
  2. Structure. How is your messaging structured? In what order do you convey information?
  3. Flow. How do your sentences read? Are they the same length and cadence, or do they vary? Is your writing engaging or boring?
  4. Clarity. Is your grammar (mostly) correct? Are your sentences structured in the most coherent way? Can your target audience easily understand your meaning?

Mastering copywriting means becoming adept at each level.

Good writing without the right messaging won’t convert – and good messaging with boring or unclear writing will also fail.

Don’t get everyone involved in a project to review marketing copy.

Here’s why.

  1. Reviewing without a goal is a waste of time. Are they checking grammar? Facts? Messaging? Most ‘can you take a look at this’ requests don’t have a specific ask.
  2. Unless they’re copywriters/editors, feedback on grammar isn’t their specialty. Don’t have a non-expert review an expert’s work.
  3. Unless they’re salespeople/marketers, feedback on messaging isn’t their speciality. Don’t have a non-expert review an expert’s work.
  4. Trying to please everyone means pleasing no-one. Copy by committee is boring and forgettable.
  5. Reviewing holds up delivery. Can the fifth person looking at the copy offer something the second person didn’t? If not, skip them.
  6. Being a stakeholder =/= needing to contribute. Trust your copywriters and editors to do their jobs.

When you’re writing copy that targets buyers already using a competitor product/service, showing that you’re better/cheaper isn’t enough.

Maybe it would have been when they were first making a purchase decision …

… but this is NOW.

Now, they’ve:

  1. already invested money into the competitor offering
  2. already de-risked the competitor offering by trying it
  3. already changed their business processes/lifestyle to match the competitor offering

Unless they’re not happy with the competitor offering (i.e. their problem isn’t being solved), they’re not incentivised to try a different solution.

And that means you’re not just going up against your competitor.

You’re also fighting inertia.

The workaround: be explicit about the cost of inaction OR show that your offering is exponentially better (and thus worth the changeover cost).

But don’t assume that having a few extra features or being a bit cheaper will be enough to sway a competitor’s customers.

The incumbent always has the advantage.

Brand voice can be hard to nail – both as a concept and in practice.

But you can make it easier with a well-written guide.

A brand voice guide =/= a few sentences in your visual style guide that define your voice as ‘bold, confident and professional’

Instead, your brand voice guide should be an independent document that covers four key areas:

  • Sentence style (how you write your sentences – staccato vs. freight train, simple vs. compound-complex, etc.)
  • Register (the formality level of your writing and the language you use)
  • Tone (the attitudes and emotions your writing conveys)
  • Perspectives (what perspectives/themes/PoVs you choose to focus on)

Together, these four inputs make up a textual voice.

Some other considerations:

  • Your brand voice guide should be specific enough that any writer can implement it and produce similar-sounding text.
  • But it also needs to be short enough that it’s not overwhelming or confusing.
  • And you should include plenty of examples – preferably from different contexts and mediums.

Important: a brand voice guide is NOT the same thing as a textual style guide (which covers grammar and spelling choices).

Make sure you separate the two – your writers will thank you.