The 3 Approaches to Copywriting
BY JOE FONTENOT
A copywriter helps shape your content into a way that you can use throughout your customer journey.
This might mean sales copy: introducing new people to your brand, or showing existing customers a new side of you.
Or (my personal favorites) it could take place more on the technical side. Manuals, FAQs, and How-tos. These represent a kind of extra-mile service: for when you already have a relationship with your customer, but you want to strengthen it, and, ultimately, turn them into word-of-mouth warriors for you.
But regardless of where you plan to use a copywriter, there are three major approaches you can take. Understanding this up front will help make the whole process work better for you and your business.
The Discovery Approach: The copywriter discovers (and often, so do you!)
This is best if you’re really busy, or just plain stuck.
The process goes like this: you find a copywriter you like, and then turn them loose. You may give them parameters, like: “we need to create an email automation campaign with one email per week” or “we need social media copy” or, simply (albeit vaguely): “we need to better connect with our customers.”
Some copywriters are comfortable in this ‘frontier’ environment. They can assess your marketing, spot the holes, and pick up your tone quickly. But, beware: for a lot of copywriters (and people in general), this wide-open approach can be difficult.
The caveat is if you’re too busy to add anything else to your plate, then this approach might actually cause you more work than the next approach below.
The reason is simple: in the discovery approach, the copywriter may unearth a hidden gem — or they may get off into the weeds, misunderstanding your core value. This will require you to spend more time with them, redirecting them. And if you’re already too busy, that’s not ideal.
However, if your motivation isn’t that you’re too busy, but that you’re just stuck, then this approach can be a great assistance. It’ll give you an outside, professional look at your brand.
And because a copywriter’s core job is to communicate your main value succinctly, this can be a great aid to getting unstuck.
The Framework Approach: The copywriter fleshes out your guidelines
This is somewhat of a Goldilocks Zone, though I hesitate to officially call it that. Because, if used properly, there is value in all three approaches.
But on the whole, this approach is a good middle ground for most scenarios, giving you the biggest ROI on your copywriting investment.
Here’s how it works…
Once you’ve found a copywriter you like, you give them a few core piece of information:
- Your target audience(s) + their main pain points
- Your objective
- Your core values
Then your copywriter presents a plan to carry out the above. This would include which platforms to use (social media, email, website, ads, etc.); what kinds of media (text, videos script, audio, etc.); and finally, an editorial calendar (what gets produced, and when).
The reason why this is a great middle ground is because it doesn’t take a great deal of time on your part. You’re really just giving your copywriter a big box to work in. And when you do that, you can know they’ll bring you back something that will work.
But the framework approach isn’t best for every solution. And sometimes, the third approach (next) is where you need to be.
The Massaging Approach: You write and your copywriter finesses
If you have highly technical work, you can hire a copywriter who can, more or less, do what you do. They understand the details of your process, and they can write about it in a way that will speak to your audience effectively.
But that can be a very expensive process.
And, in some cases, unavailable. Extremely specialized copywriters are often booked up.
But that’s okay, because there’s another option. And that’s the massaging approach.
This works for technical industries, but it also works if you just want to be more involved in your messaging.
In this approach, you write the article or post or web content, and then a copywriter comes behind you and massages it. They’ll make sure the language is clear, compelling, and accessible.
Your copywriter will help with formatting (because not all formatting gets the same effect — and depending on the medium, that formatting changes). And then, a copywriter will give your writing the feel of being professional, even if you’re not a professional writer.
Sometimes, as the old cliché says, knowledge is power.
There are a lot of brands and nonprofits who look at copywriting as an expense instead of an investment.
In my experience, this is often because they just don’t understand how to properly use a copywriter. It still feels like a vague, un-measurable service. And (understandably), they pass.
But foregoing a copywriter is also foregoing the benefits, affecting everything from your sales process to your customer service quality to your employee (or partner) retention rate.
The point of this post has been to give you a leg up.
By having this initial framework in your mind of what a copywriter can do for you — as well as how that process can go — you’ll be able to find a good copywriter, negotiate a fair rate, and then know when they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing.