As a financial services marketer, I’m sure you have (at least) heard about copywriting before. After all – unless you are doing everything yourself – you would have had to hire a copywriter to work on a marketing campaign at some point.
But do you have a full understanding of what copywriting entails? Unless you have a marketing and advertising background, chances are you don’t. But it’s OK – that’s why I am here.
As a direct response copywriter verified by the American Writers and Artists Institute (AWAI), I have spent the past ten-plus years mastering the craft of writing copy. I have read lots of books, watched hours of video, and listen to many podcasts about sales, marketing, and copywriting.
And today, I want to share with you some knowledge bits that will give you a better understanding of what goes behind writing copy. As well as how great copywriting can help elevate your marketing campaigns to achieve the sales goals you have set for your business.
Copywriting Has Nothing to Do with Copyrights
More times than not, when I tell acquaintances that I am a copywriter, they quickly assume that I work for the US Patent and Trademark Department. And I can’t say I blame them.
Most people are more familiar with the word “copyright” than “Copywrite.” But let me assure you that the concept of copywriting has nothing to do with your company’s legal department. At least not directly.
Instead, copywriting has more to do with salesmanship because copywriting is any writing that you present offering a product or service for sale.
I am going to take back what I said about laypeople not being familiar with copywriting. Because they witness it in every junk mail package, ad on their Google search, and TV or radio commercial they’ve ever heard.
Any piece of communication that presents you with a product or service is an example of copywriting.
There’s good and bad copywriting, but we will discuss that in a little bit. For now, know that when someone tells you that they are a copywriter, it most likely means writing sales materials and not working on trademarks and patents.
What Copywriting Can Do for You
The goal of your copywriter is one and only one: to drive profitability.
As a marketer, you have to keep that in mind because you will encounter many copywriters that will try to convince you that they can do something else aside from selling your offers. And most of those offerings will not do anything for your sales.
You will have copywriters tell you about how they can create entertaining commercials that people will like. They will talk about giving your brand a “cool edge” with “award-winning” advertising. But in reality, most of those copywriters aren’t even copywriters – they are scriptwriters looking to build portfolios (at your expense) to win awards they can show in Hollywood.
These wannabe-copywriter don’t care whether your business sells plenty or goes under. All they want is to further their careers. And your money should not be funding someone’s future job without getting something in return.
Marketing and advertising is a means to an end. And that end is to increase sales – and profits – for your business.
Copywriting at Its Best
You’re probably wondering at this point, “what separates the good copy from the bad copy?” And your answer lies in the purpose behind the copy.
You can spot bad copywriting when you realize a sales and marketing piece is more entertaining than anything else. The bad copywriters fill their marketing and advertising materials with short and witty one-liners that focus more on a funny character than the solutions your product or services have to offer.
Good-to-great copywriting, on the other hand, focus on inspiring and informing the market on why they should consider buying your products. Copywriters that know what they’re doing will present an empathetic character as a hero, telling the story of a situation they solved using your offer. And you will have a specific call-to-action that will entice your audience into buying as soon as possible.
Copywriting, at its best, presents your products and services as viable solutions for your market. At its worst, your copywriting turns the offer into the vehicle to deliver a clever punchline.
The Four Elements of Copywriting
For your sales and marketing copy to be compelling, you must structure it correctly, make it easy to scan, be empathetic, and use the right tone of voice.
Proper Copy Structure
To structure, your copy correctly simply means that your text is not all over the place.
Instead, you are taking your audience through an emotional rollercoaster, working around your core emotions to develop a sense of excitement or dependency towards your offer. And at the right time, you hit them with your proposal.
Many copywriting formulas will help you structure your text. Four of the most common are: AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action), the 4 Ps (Promise, Picture, Proof, Push), and the Storytelling Technique (Shine, Heat, Comeback, Finish).
A well-structured marketing copy will keep your audience hooked, and increase your chances at a sale.
You wouldn’t try to eat an entire T-bone steak in one bite. And you wouldn’t read a marketing message presented as one, enormous paragraph.
Just like people enjoy their food bite-by-bite, readers enjoy reading their text paragraph by paragraph. Therefore, every marketing text message should be easy to digest – scannable and easy on the eyes.
The best way to make your copy easy-to-scan is to make proper use of subheads, numerations, and bullet points. Use your subheads to separate subtopics, and also let the reader know exactly where the information they want is. And use numbers and bullet points to present a list of details or resources better.
When you make your copy more comfortable to read, you (again) increase your chances at the reader not tossing your advertising aside. And by “aside” – I mean the trash bin.
To create new customers, you have to show your audience that you empathize with their problems as deeply as humanly possible.
When you demonstrate empathy, you let the market know that you’re one of them. And as such, you have taken time to produce a solution that will make your prospects’ daily lives better.
But, how do you show empathy to the audience? Simple – you go deep on the details. Let the reader know that you understand their pain by going exactly through every emotion you went through before you came up with your offer. That’d let the audience know that a) you have gone precisely through what they’re experiencing, and b) your offer works.
Empathy is the most crucial copywriting element. Because without it, you are just a sleazy salesperson looking for a quick buck.
The Right Tone of Voice
Just like in conversations, using the right (or wrong) words and symbols can make your marketing texts very appealing to the reader. Or something they would want to avoid altogether.
The tone of your writing can go anywhere from joyful and optimistic to selfish and angry. This is why you must know which tone you need to take on your marketing messages.
For financial services, the tone you generally want to take is:
- Conversational but not too casual – you need to show professionalism while being friendly.
- Persuasive but not overly excited or sales-y – no one likes to be sold
- Informative – show that you come from the place of knowledge.
- Candid – tell it like it is
In business, as well as in life, trust is what makes good things happen. By using the right tone on your messages, you can start building trust with your audience and produce new sales.
What Your Copy Can Promote
Here are the four main things you can promote with your copy:
- Your Products – you can sell any financial offering through advertising, digital marketing, and social media campaigns.
- Your Services – financial planners and investment advisors can use direct mail, content marketing, and SEO to get their names and firms known to would-be clients.
- A Charitable Cause – fundraising letters and websites can help you reach out to donors and collect money for those in need.
- Your Company – send out public relations and corporate communications materials to let your community know what your business has been up to.
And what do every one of those examples have in common – they need copywriting for promotion. Because a logo and some design put together won’t get the job done on their own.
Where You Can Place Your Copy
You need a copywriter for any marketing, advertising, or other persuasive business text you produce.
Your advertising campaigns need copy for print ads, TV and radio commercials, advertorials, and brochures.
Whether you use them for lead generation or sales orders, your direct mail packages need copy for your sales letter. And copy for any self-mailers, reply cards, and postcards you might want to send.
If you’re marketing online, then you will need copy for search ads, social media, emails, and podcast commercials.
Your website will also need copy for its homepage, product pages, FAQ pages, and other content.
And for those looking to run a content marketing campaign, some copywriters specialize in press releases, online videos, white papers, and online seminars.
If you need sales text done, you will need to hire the services of a copywriter or become one yourself.
Thank you for checking out those six bits of knowledge about copywriting. For making it this far, I would like to share an extra bit that can make for a good marketer/copywriter conversation.
BONUS: The World’s First Full-Time Copywriter
John Emory Power became the very first recognized full-time copywriter in May of 1880.
According to Wikipedia, Powers began writing ads for Lord & Taylor as a part-time job in the 1870s. Then he moved to Philadelphia for his first full-time role as a copywriter for John Wanamaker’s Grand Depot. But due to his personality, Powers was not able to keep his job for long and became a freelancer in 1886.
While working for Wanamaker, Powers wrote six ads a week for about nine months. From there, he settled on a style that featured colloquial English, short sentences, and basic Roman type without italics instead of hyperbolic display styles.
During Powers’ tenure at Grand Depot, the Wanamaker’s revenues doubled from 4 million to 8 million dollars.
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