I was chatting to a client recently who wanted to know what hiring a copywriter could bring to her company, when they knew their business so well they had far more expertise than me.
Fair point, but my answer is that it is because I am an outsider that I add benefit. I bring the virtues of the 3Cs – providing copy that is Clear, Compelling and Concise.
Writing with clarity
Clear: it is because I’m not a specialist in her business that I can bring clarity, grasping the overview, picking out interesting detail and seeing what’s important in a way that she finds hard (she’s too immersed in it all.)
How can you add clarity to something you know so much about that you struggle to keep it concise? Try these techniques:
The pub test: Imagine you’re in your local and are introduced to a stranger who asks what you do. Just spend a minute or two now thinking how you would describe your business in a couple of sentences. You need to be clear so that this novice “gets it” – and you want to be interesting so they’ll say, “Oh, that sounds good. Tell me more.”
(Hint: the interesting bit may not be the most important thing you do, but some unusual detail.)
News at Ten: Think of your headlines, five cracking things you can boast about because they’re what sets you apart. At the moment they’re probably dotted around your website, brochure or proposal. You need to pull them all onto the same page.
With your key sentences and your headlines you can tell your story with clarity. Rather than being submerged in irrelevant backstory, you get straight to the point.
Writing compelling copy
Compelling: I’ve been writing for so many years as a journalist and a copywriter that I know how to make a story compelling, how to present a case, how to choose the right words.
So what will convince your customers? Here are a couple of ideas:
Invite them to feel the benefit. In this example for Waterlogic, world leaders in water coolers, I’ve used a twist on a familiar phrase as a headline to evoke the pleasure of a refreshing drink:
Sell the dream. In a brochure for Barratt Homes, my description of the new houses and local amenities is nestled among aspirational phrases: “Stylish living”, “Lovely homes for people like you”, “An exceptional place to live”, “Life of leisure”.
“Don’t take our word for it”. You can deploy testimonials to brilliant effect to instill trust if you cut them down to a couple of lines, rather than letting them run on and on.
Which brings me on to the last of the 3Cs, and why less is more.
It’s good to be impatient
Concise: impatience is a great skill to have as a copywriter because I cut through the fluff to the really important message and deliver it as concisely as possible. Which is good, because my client’s potential customers are impatient, too.
This ad for VW makes the point cleverly. (I didn’t write it, I hasten to say, but I do admire it.)
Here are two more essentials for writing concise copy:
- First, compose your text then put it to one side. Leave it (ideally overnight) then come back and take another look. With fresh eyes you should quickly be able to make some cuts.
- Secondly, use bullet points and “key facts” boxes that force you to be brief and make your text more readable on the page. The idea is for maximum impact quickly, refining a wedge of material down to the clinchers that really matter.
Advantages of hiring a copywriter
So, to answer my client’s million-dollar question (“Why do I need a copywriter?”), I’d just point out that a professional writer will do everything I’ve described above quickly and naturally. Which might well be a weight off your shoulders.
Of course, another advantage of hiring a copywriter is that they can dream up gimmicks like ‘3Cs’ to encapsulate your message
or make it memorable!
Get in touch to find out how I can make the 3Cs work for you.