I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on the magic behind a well-delivered message. And I’m reminded of the critical difference between copywriting and conveying meaning.
You see, I recently had a client (who has become a friend) mention to me that my website copy didn’t do enough to convey the magic she experienced while working with me.
She didn’t mean to criticize, but she thought I should know.
I wasn’t offended. Or surprised. I don’t attract enough clients like her, which is my intention, so something must be missing. I’ve felt that for a while.
What I write about my offering, even with my authentic marketing cap on, doesn’t seem to mean the same, or nearly as much, as what I provide for my clients in real life.
What I’ve come up with might be a Eureka! moment for many of you, so I’ve decided to share it. It certainly is a wake-up call for me and my marketing copy business.
First, let’s define what copy actually is:
Copy is written material intended to be reproduced. And it’s the text of something as opposed to the visual elements.
So, this blog post is copy, because it will be reproduced by virtue of it being online, linked in a newsletter or distributed via social media share. Hint hint. :-D
The text in the newsletter or the words in the Facebook post I put up will also be copy.
A Tweet is copy, too, technically. At least it is when you are intending to promote or publicize. Or sell. Or inform.
So yes, intention does matter. If you’re just Tweeting to vote for someone on The Voice, or posting on Facebook to yell at your boyfriend, it’s not exactly copy.
Are you asleep yet?
Writing that copy to define copywriting was pretty boring, I must admit.
However, there is a need for dry, educational text. Manuals must be written. Product specs, instructions for use, and labels on packaging, are all part of the world of marketing copy, too. Annual reportzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…
We all like to think of copy as ad copy. Kapow! Homepages, blog headlines. Bam! Television commercials. Wow! Email autoresponder series. Lucrative stuff.
What’s the magic in that kind of copy, that is so much more attractive, and that we want to learn about and tap into?
If we can identify that, we can find what’s missing from our copy when it fails to move the reader to the place we want them to go.
It’s safe to say a Tweet that makes us laugh or shares a profound famous quote is much more interesting than one that says “Free webinar on ____ this Friday at noon. Click here to reserve your spot!” Right? Right.
I Know What the Missing Magic Is
It’s meaning. (Eureka!)
(And a nod to I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou for that sweet subhead.)
Meaning makes a message out of words.
You can’t move people with your writing unless what you have to say matters to people. Even when what you’re writing is copy…. or, especially when what you’re writing is copy.
Relevance? Yes. Differentiation? Great. Education? Okay. RESULTS??? BENEFITS??? Sure!
And That’s Not All…
All of those may be desirable elements of your marketing copy. Because those things matter to marketing targets–your prospects and leads considering what they might want to buy to solve their problems or make their life better.
But that is not enough. Since we market to people, not targets.
The critical link that is often missing from copy–including some of my own webpages here until I fix them–is a message that means something to the living, breathing people it’s intended for. People with lives and beliefs and past experiences and quirks and tastes and insecurities and wishes.
Meaning is the fairy dust that is keeping your reading now, even though this is a pretty long post. I’m giving you something that matters in your journey. Not just trying to convince you. What makes copy matter is the message that your audience takes from your writing. And so you must give.
This goes beyond creating “avatars” to write for, or studying successes in your market, or even doing a survey. All good ideas, but none of these measures will ever be as useful as personally knowing your audience.
I mean literally knowing your audience, as people, well enough that you could write them a letter that they want to read. Not just understanding stuff about them so you can position your offers.
Remember, I started with this:
I recently had a client (who has become a friend) mention to me that my website copy didn’t do enough to convey the magic she experienced while working with me.
Halina of SoloSouls.net shared that observation with me in an impromptu exchange of letters that began with “how are you doing?”
People Who Need People
When you’re lucky enough to work directly with members of your audience, as I am, you get to talk to your people while being part of their living, breathing, human days. So you’re a step ahead on locating the fairy dust.
If you’re not a direct service provider–say you make apps or write poems–you might not have the privilege of direct contact with those you’re writing for. You should do something about that. Meet them. Interact. Learn from their beliefs and past experiences, their quirks and tastes, their insecurities and wishes.
Because once you know them, you can go through your copy and look for the most critical link: the message that means something to the people you are in a relationship with. It’s how copywriting becomes more than text that is intended to be duplicated.
You’ll often find disconnects in copy you wrote to attract an audience or call them to action, or when it describes the features and benefits of what you offer, or uses words famous for making people click.
You can fix that. You can provide them with your magic, in messaging that comes from personal level of awareness:
- What do you (or your products) mean to them?
- What relationship do you provide?
- How does that work for them, in their lives?
- How do you know them (and how can they know you)?
- What do they love about you (and you about them)?
The Buck Stops Here
In my favorite work with my best clients, I provide that kind kind of meaningful, connected of marketing copy, or the coaching to help them write it. I try for that on my blog, too.
Sure, some clients need strict information delivery at times, and some readers prefer more flash with brighter lights. You know, so they can jab jab hook and be everywhere in their four hour work week. But that type of work is not the primary gift I offer here, through pen to ZEN.
So MY first change will be to fix my distant, almost meaningless elevator speech on my homepage:
I help non-writers write and entrepreneurs market their business, brands and blogs.
What? Ouch! I’ll work to make a message out of that copy. I know for sure that my people want something from me that goes beyond help with writing and marketing.
In the meantime, let’s remember the critical connection goes like this:
Would love your ideas or questions in comments below, or email me at my (new) address:
faithw[at]pentozen[dot]com (tons of spam going to the straight up faith@ address)