5 Reasons Why Great Copy Still Matters

5 Reasons Why Great Copy Still Matters

Big Ideas

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March 7 2018
Big Ideas

It’s the age of visual media. We’re in 2018, and we’ve all had our fair share of moments when we feel closer to the Jetsons than ever. Have you seen that video of a baby riding a hoverboard like a total pro? That’s the world we live in. The future is now, and it has arrived with millions of videos just like that one. The digital landscape has reached a visual saturation point that is difficult to ignore.

But what about written content? Is the joy of reading in as much peril as my high school English teacher predicted?

Here are 5 big reasons why you should still invest in great Copywriting:


1. Individuality

If your current habitat is anywhere near a marketing agency, you may have heard the refrain that visual content – mainly photography and video – is “it” right now. The problem is that this refrain is already stuck in everyone’s head – be they marketers, content creators, photographers, Facebook moms, or whoever. Everyone already knows that no one will engage with you on social media without a compelling visual of some kind.

The caveat to this is that nearly everyone has a smartphone with an ultra-sophisticated camera. The other day, I scrolled past an image of a young woman with an enviable figure posed in resort attire on a sprawling beach. She was bathed in the morning sunlight and looked like she was living in a dream. I didn’t “like” it. I’d seen twenty photos just like it in the previous five minutes.

It’s not that it wasn’t a great photo – it’s that the post lacked storytelling. At this point, we’re pretty used to being spectators to the lives of beautiful, interesting people. But what sets apart a compelling photograph from a stock image? It’s the narrative, the excitement, the human element. And that’s something that copy gives you – it’s an opportunity to give context. And context is powerful.


2. Clarity

We’re fortunate to live in a place where the literacy rate is close to 100%. But not everyone who can read is necessarily born to write. A copywriter is to language what an accountant is to numbers: you want someone who knows what they’re doing to be taking care of that job. A copywriter isn’t only there to make sure your ads and blog posts are free of spelling and syntax errors – though that certainly is a part of it. A study by RealBusiness in the UK concluded that 59% of respondents would not do business with a company if they had obvious spelling or grammar mistakes in their marketing materials.

A copywriter’s craft also involves reading copy from an outsider’s perspective. A copywriter worth their salt should be re-reading copy while mindfully pretending they’ve never seen it before. Then, they should be consulting someone who genuinely hasn’t seen it before. After that, they should be seeking feedback and editing the copy until the reader has no choice but to take away the right message.

That matters, because putting the wrong message out there – even based on one person’s interpretation – can cost you a lot. It can cost you money if the message is an unclear promotion end date, or an obvious typo on an expensive print job. It can cost you time if that message beckons in fifty calls per day from confused customers. Or, worst of all, it can cost you your reputation if the message is interpreted as offensive or plain stupid.


3. Brevity

Most of you probably didn’t make it to this bullet point, which only proves the point I’m about to make. At this stage in history, people’s attention spans have fully goldfish-ified. Microsoft did a study back in 2015 that showed the average adult attention span was about eight seconds. Now more than ever, gold-standard (goldfish-standard?) copy is concise. You need to catch – and keep! – your audience’s attention in as little time as possible, so keep it short. How can you get your point across if your reader left to watch a video of a baby riding a hoverboard five minutes ago?


4. Personality

If you haven’t heard this piece of marketing scripture, here it is, free of charge: your brand is what other people think of you. Think of the people you like to be around. What qualities do they have that draws you in? Chances are, most of those qualities are personality attributes. Maybe it’s their quirky sense of humour, or their fresh perspective on life, or their passion for their field of expertise – a captivating personality establishes the value of the person’s thoughts and opinions. The same principles apply to brands. In marketing, we call this the brand “voice” – the unique way a brand expresses their personality. Wendy’s is a great example of brand voice. After decades of getting pummeled by competitors like McDonalds, Wendy’s decided to change their strategy and adopt social media marketing in a major way. They didn’t play it safe – they developed a “voice” for their Twitter account that matches their target audience. It’s young, it’s sarcastic, and it’s not afraid to get in the odd rap battle. Their posts started going viral, and Wendy’s won a completely new audience by completely abandoning conventional communication tactics and being totally original.


5. Opportunity

It’s easy to forget all the ways you need to communicate with your audience just to make a single sale. You have to name your product. You have to tell your audience that your product exists. You have to educate people on how your product works, and you have to do it before they stop caring and move on. Your website is where all these responsibilities intersect. As you add more and more copy to your website that conveys this information, you benefit your business two-fold. Not only does your audience have all the resources they need to make purchase decisions, you’ll also be improving your search engine rankings by filling your site with keywords. These keywords are how search engines like Google form an understanding of what your site is about, which helps the engine draw a connection between a search query and your website.

And that’s not all – most brands today are interested in creating long-term relationships with their customers. In addition to all the above, you must also inspire curiosity while continuously building trust if you hope to earn brand-loyal customers. This can only be done with thoughtfully crafted copy. Copy lets you create the world in which your product and your customer live happily together. Perhaps that looks like a blog post, where you recount a time when your financial services heroically saved a client thousands of dollars in customs fees. Or, it could be the caption on an Instagram post, telling the inspiring tale of how a customer’s life was transformed by your fitness program. Imagery captures the eye, but story is what captures the heart and mind. Ideally, your customer should start to see your product as an opportunity to improve something in their life.


So, Do You Copy?

In today’s digital age, people have become very aware of – and resistant to – their role as ad targets. There are simply no safe bets when relying on antiquated marketing tactics, and this is especially true of copy. Traditional ads are falling out of favour, yet engaging branded content has never been more valuable. So, craft it carefully. Give it thought. Be critical. Write, and re-write. More of your campaign success is riding on it than you might think.


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