I write, you say. I’m a writer. In fact, I get compliments on my writing all the time.
We hear this a lot, and what’s more, we believe it. We think it can mean several things, and we’re totally on board with each one:
• A (basic): You articulate well on paper, making yourself clearly understood.
• B (nice!!): The way you do A is organized and streamlined. You don’t repeat things too often or take long to express your point.
• C (helps to have it): You can get a reader to consider your viewpoint—by supporting your case, conjuring emotion, or both.
• D (bonus): You’re a whiz at spelling and punctuation.
The world has lots of As and Bs, and occasional Cs. (Ds are great, but there’s always technology.)
Now to the point. Regardless of what role you fill at work or what kudos you’ve received for writing, copy that hits too close to home can produce dank, dark struggle. We at MarketSmiths have found this to be true of founders, solopreneurs, CEOs, agencies, branding folks, and marketers. The culprit? Even for the best writers, it’s likely to be a shortage of the following:
Myopia reigns. You’re looking at your subject from within—not 20,000’ up, or even 6”. To know what to say, it helps to be able to zoom out.
You need to figure out what—and how much—the reader cares about, then translate that to be engaging, compelling, and memorable.
Great copy isn’t just telling a story or incorporating logic and emotion. Like a fine baroque composer, the copywriter has a toolkit full of motifs, voices, rhythms, embellishment, resonance, and transition points. You need to know which tools to pick and how to change them up when there’s a shift in format, audience, mood, or objective.
When to weave a tapestry with color, texture, shape? When to cut to the chase? When to alternate, mesmerizing your readers like a slithering dance, or a pair of emphatic almond eyes?
Spare is air. Less is fresh. A great copywriter knows when to let the ax drop.
Be on the lookout for a corollary post on how to find a copywriter who can do the job right.