Copywriting is about selling
There are lots of people out there who need to write sales copy but who aren’t equipped or trained to do it well. They are doing it badly because they have never been shown how to do it properly.
Yes, people are taught to write at school (sometimes even quite well). But there is a deep chasm between academic writing and effective copywriting.
Why? Because copywriting is primarily about selling and only secondarily about writing. And that distinction calls for an understanding of people and what makes them tick. Yes, of course you need to be able to write well and correctly, but that alone will not take you all the way.
I’m often asked whether my degree is in English. It’s not: I read psychology. If you are going to influence people using the written word, it helps if you understand a little about how their minds work.
We must focus on the reader
Most copywriting underperform because it is all about the writer and not about the reader.
Business owners are in love with the company. Managers are in love with the product. Agency copywriters, frequently, are in love with themselves (bound by their artistic aspirations and their desire to win creative awards doled out by their peers).
But who’s in love with the reader? Who’s trying to figure out what they want to hear? What their needs and wants are? What will motivate them to pay attention to a sales message, believe it and act upon it?
Beautiful things come in small packages
Most business copywriters, especially in-house copywriters, assume that bigger is better. Long words are better than short words. Long sentences are better than short sentences.
But readers—even CEOs—do not engage with this style of writing. It’s all head, no heart. To engage our reader, we must use wheelbarrow language: the earthy, flinty words we can almost pick up in our hands and smell.