Copywriting is a form of communication that conveys advertising and marketing messages to an audience through print, online, television, and more. Unlike other writing professions – such as journalism – the purpose of copywriting is to raise brand awareness and to persuade a target audience to purchase a product or invest in a service.
The responsibilities of a copywriter vary from position to position, and according to the medium through which the marketing/advertising is to take place. Copy can take on long or short forms, scripts, web content, radio jingles, product reviews, books, brochures, and much more. Copywriting is also integral to social media activity, used, as it is, in blogs, status updates, and promotional activity.
What is copywriting for?
Copywriting is essential for the dissemination of marketing and advertising material to target audiences. From a business perspective, the role of copywriting is to promote the benefits of a particular product or service, persuading potential customers to invest. But copywriting also plays an important role in raising awareness of a brand.
Branding is vital to any organisation, conveying the ethics and identity of a given company, and attracting new audiences to the existence of its being. Without copywriting and copy, transmission of identity and values would be all-but impossible, so it’s essential that every brand utilises the services of copywriting professionals.
What is a copywriter?
Copywriting is, of course, carried out by a copywriter. Most copywriters will work either in an agency or client-side capacity, conducting work for either a number of clients or just one. Increasingly, copywriters work on a freelance or contractual basis, providing them with the freedom to move from one project to another. In addition, professional copywriting agencies (such as Minerva Copywriting) employ a number of writers to work across client projects. The advantages of such a system are the easy scalability of projects and also quality control measures being in place.
For a copywriter, the role includes a number of responsibilities. From customer profiling to proofreading, research to writing, there are myriad tasks involved in crafting copy. Even conceptual copywriting of just a few words – the kind you might see in adverts on television or in glossy magazines – demands extensive care and attention, with the need to invest time and effort into developing the perfect message and emotional response.
Often, a copywriter will work as part of a creative team, partnering with an art director or graphic designer. The modern era of internet marketing, however, has seen the relationships copywriters have with others expand, with SEO professionals often working alongside copywriters in generating a content marketing strategy for a website.
In such instances, even greater responsibility is afforded to a copywriter, who will be tasked with conducting further tasks in the completion of a project. These include data analysis, keyword research, website optimisation, and more.
History of copywriting
Copywriting has been an integral role of marketing and advertising since the dawn of the industry. As such, there has been substantial evolution in the role and refinement of what types of copy work best for selected audiences and mediums. This has meant that the transition from long-form copy to shorter adverts, in-depth website copy to engaging scripts, has been continual. And, as new forms of marketing channels open up over the years to come, copywriting will evolve once more.
The advertising industry is littered with household names that built a reputation on their copywriting skills. Below is a list of just some of the most famous copywriters to have created iconic adverts and marketing material over the years, as well as some who would go on to future careers in other disciplines.
- David Abbott
- David Ogilvy
- William Bernbach
- Leo Burnett
- Don DeLillo
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Terry Gilliam
- Alan Parker
- Salman Rushdie
Quotes on copywriting
“Copy is a direct conversation with the consumer.”
— Shirley Polykoff
“If you can’t turn yourself into a consumer, you probably shouldn’t be in the advertising business at all.”
— Leo Burnett
“Consumers do not buy products. They buy product benefits.”
— David Ogilvy
“We want consumers to say, ‘That’s a hell of a product’ instead of, ‘That’s a hell of an ad.’”
— Leo Burnett
“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”
– David Ogilvy
“The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything.”
– David Ogilvy
“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”
– Leo Burnett
“Let us prove to the world that good taste, good art, and good writing can be good selling.”
– William Bernbach
“A copywriter should have an understanding of people, an insight into them, a sympathy toward them.”
– George Gribbin