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What Copywriting Is and Is Not

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What Copywriting Is and Is Not

Copywriting is a very specialized form of writing that requires certain skills, primarily that you are able to engage a reader, cause them to think about specific situations and motivate them into taking action based on providing them with a solution to an existing problem.

Writing copy (copywriting) is a sophisticated form of communication with an express purpose, typically targeted at companies or individuals who can make buying decisions.

Copywriting is used to inform, sell, distribute, market and promote products or services that are designed purposefully to entice individuals or other businesses to buy.

Businesses know that consumers make buying decisions based on a mixture of facts and emotions and often, emotions dominate their decisions.

This is why the market is in such high demand because the average consumer will buy based on his emotions and copywriters focus on triggering those emotions AND controlling the outcome of how a reader responds to these feelings (purchases a product, subscribes to a newsletter, completes a survey, etc).

Copywriting Secrets Video Series

The Importance of Words

There is a significant amount of attention placed on words, choice of words, word placement, tone (the voice of your copy) and once again, emotional call outs that appear within a copywriting piece.

Since all of these elements together are essential for success, it’s no doubt that seasoned copywriters who have mastered the art of creative selling are in such demand, and in turn, are some of the highest paid writers in the industry.

The process of copywriting involves crafting compelling, inviting copy whose main goal is to entice readers to buy. In the end, that is the desired result. Although not all of the readers will buy, the target market is only being satisfied by a small percentage of decision-makers.

In the process of copywriting, the writer will give ideas, facts and information that will better equip the reader (or listener) to make a decision based on their interpretation. It is the copywriters responsibility to first capture attention, engage the reader, provoke emotion and then funnel that emotion into prompting the reader into making a decision, or taking an action of some kind. The way that the material is presented and interpreted by the copywriter will ultimately be responsible for the success or failure of the sales pitch.

The challenge for the copywriter is to create a positive interpretation for the reader that is in favor of the product or service that is being offered without coming off strong (unless that is the intended voice of the message).

Evoking Emotion

Evoking Emotion

For the most part, copywriters don’t have to sell at all, instead, they present the option of success or failure to the reader and leave them little choice. For example, on a salespage focused on making money online, a copywriter could highlight the reasons why the reader may have failed repeatedly when trying to start an online business.

They could assure them that it’s not their fault, that they were misled and even deceived deliberately by other marketers. Then, the copywriter could warn the reader that unless they take action and purchase a solid blueprint to success, that they are likely to continue losing time and money with unsuccessful strategies, only to find themselves in the same situation they are in now, a year later.

This evokes the emotion of both fear and failure. Fear, that they will be scammed, lied to, misled, deceived and of failing in terms of losing time and money by not purchasing the featured product.

Copywriting techniques are curtailed and customized to fit the challenge that the writer is drafting the copy for, and each project may call upon the copywriter to use a different style, voice or strategy.

For example, certain marketing agencies prefer that copywriters create advertisements that take a personal approach, where it speaks directly to the reader, empathizes with them, and gives the feeling that the writer has their best interest at heart, while other marketing companies prefer a direct, hard sale, where the copywriter takes a more aggressive approach to marketing and subsequently, selling the product.

Regardless of the style used, the copywriter should always be able to create a sense of urgency, so the reader feels compel to act quickly, or risk losing the opportunity that is being presented to them. 

Using Urgency, Fear and Anticipation

There are three emotions that are often evoked from effective copywriting:

1. Urgency 

Good copywriting will create a sense of urgency. It will make the reader feel like they need to react quickly, or to make a critical decision at that very moment.

Well-written copy will have the reader ready to respond even before they reach the end of the sales letter or copy that they’re reading. Copywriters will implement “emotional pulls” throughout the copy, to ensure that they are able to captivate readers who skim the sales page, and material.

What kinds of copy call upon a sense of urgency?

An example of this would be the sale of exercise products or weight-loss information. If the copy is well-crafted and cleverly written, the reader would be ready to place her order even before she reaches the end of the page, because not only are they given a clear picture of their current situation (before), they are also given a vivid image of what they can accomplish if they take action (after).

Spend some time watching late night infomercials if you’re interested in seeing some of the most well written, emotion driven advertising material available.

Take notes of the terms, wording and phrases they use, and how they often weave in both fear and relief by first presenting the problem and offering a clear solution to those desperate for help.

Since infomercials are also some of the most expensive forms of marketing, the advertising tactics have been analyzed, tested and proven to work. It’s simply one of the best ways to garner ideas for your own copy by seeing what works (as well as what pulls your own strings, and activates emotional triggers based on your personal lifestyle).

2. Fear

The type of fear that well-written copy evokes is the idea that without the service or product being advertised, that the reader will somehow experience a negative “side effect” (such as failing, continuing to experience pain, causing their situation to become worse, etc). The reader may feel that without it, they are incomplete, bound to fail or be left behind.

Perfect examples are advertisements focused on online businesses where competition is stiff and entrepreneurs are concerned about others gaining a foothold in their market. Compelling sales copy would address these situations and explain how without the information readily available to them, they stand a chance of letting their competition take control of their markets, or worse, push them out of their existing niches.

The solution? To purchase the product (course, training, newsletter, etc) and be part of an inner circle, ahead of the competition, gaining inside knowledge.

Essentially, if the reader feels that NOT having what is being sold in the copy is detrimental, he will be at a disadvantage.

Using the weight-loss industry as another example, the reader may experience fear if they do not quickly purchase the product that will help them shed pounds quickly that they will gain more weight, become more unhealthy and perhaps never be able to recover again.

3. Anticipation And Excitement

Motivating a reader to look to the future and anticipate upcoming products or information is a very effective method used by copywriters online, especially those that are creating marketing material for recurring products (membership websites, newspapers, newsletters, etc).

The copy will enlighten the reader, and paint a clear picture of what is currently available as well as what is being created, just for them.

By focusing on showcasing their current situation and how it will improve with future material offered, copywriters have helped newspapers attain loyal subscribers, ezine marketers to build massive lists of active buyers, and websites to experience a flood of prospects interested in keeping a pulse on current developments and future launches.

Again, with the weight-loss example, well-crafted copy can invoke a feeling of anticipation and drive the reader towards a desired result. (10 Pounds in 10 Days!, and other similar headlines will cause the reader to envision their future, and how much their lives can change if they remain a member and digest the material as it becomes available every month, week, year).

Another way that excitement is used within ad copy is in the backend funnel, where a copywriter continues to lead the buyer through the sales system where they are offered additional products and purchases while they are in an active buying state. Copywriting should never stop at the sales page but continue through every element of the process, through the ordering system, straight through to the final step.

Anticipation and excitement will make the reader do things that they may not otherwise consider. Work to incorporate this emotion into your copy and you’ve created a hook for your piece.

These three emotions vary in intensity and relativity from one reader to the next. Certain people will respond to these tactics differently, but it’s the job of the copywriter to reach out the majority by using time tested, proven methods of evoking and controlling emotional responses.

What Copywriting is NOT

With copywriting, words are everything and the placement of words is even more critical. It’s important to say the right things at the right time to the right people.

However, it is not always easy to get that right or to find ways where this will work 100% of the time.

Companies and people are so vastly different. A good copywriter has to customize his content to appeal to the reader and gain the desired result, however, what works for one group of people won’t always work for another and so you’ll need to research your target audience, analyze what has worked in the past, and craft your copy to integrate similar tactics. That’s the goal.

But even with well-crafted copy, it’s still not guaranteed to yield results, which is why even the best copywriters work to consistently tweak their copy, and improve results with in-depth testing.

Copywriting is NOT Article Writing

Article writing is simply the sharing and disseminating of information in a formatted fashion. Copywriting will entice the reader to buy.

Articles will share and impart information to the reader that doesn’t lean towards a sale or decision. While articles can help to “pre-sell” readers, preparing them for the full sales page, article writing is typically a more passive method of communication, rather than a direct one.

Copywriting Can Be Short Or Lengthy

Contrary to what you may have been taught, copywriting does not have to be lengthy to be effective. Copywriting is best known in the form of long sales copy pages, brochures or newsletters, however the actual copy composition does not have to be lengthy to accomplish its goal as long as you ensure that you have incorporated the most important elements and have structured your sales pages to trigger the emotions you are aiming for.

Length does not equate to effectiveness.

About Author: Andrea Fiore
I’m a single mom with two young children, living in Los Angeles. I’ve been in various fields of copywriting for over a decade. And I have to say — I love it. I’ve gone from writing copy for restaurants in New York City, to writing online copy for a number of ecommerce sites selling nationally, to doing SEO copywriting for professional and product-selling sites. I’ve worked with many affiliate marketers on website copy and email copy. I’ve done ad copy for national or local magazine ad campaigns. Over the years I’ve developed more and more skills and more resources. Every copywriting project is challenge in psychology and artful communication that is persuasive. I like these challenges.
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