An endless topaz sea stretches before me, with its mysterious reefs and silver sunbeam kisses. No footprint other than mine dents the sand. I follow a hermit crab’s sandy trail to the water’s edge, quilted with coral. Takamaka trees, tickled by a cooling Indian ocean breeze, line the…
For a moment, I forget I’m actually sitting at my slightly chaotic desk, looking out over the Cotswold hills, instead of sunning myself in The Seychelles. Escapism, I hear you cry? (Chance would be a fine thing…)
No, I’m delving into the deep corners of my imagination, drawing on memories, moments and dreams before I write some travel copy for a client.
Therein lies the beauty of being a copywriter. Everyday is different… There are journeys to embark on, wonderful people to meet, eye-opening experiences to learn from and problems to solve. And there’s you thinking pesky copywriters just write words. Far from it – as I’ll explain in a moment.
Copywriting involves visualising peoples’ lives, psychoanalysing them and understanding nitty-gritty realities. To help me, I even have a closet stuffed full of fancy dress costumes, ready to don at a moment’s notice. Can’t be bad!
The mystery of a copywriter’s wardrobe
You know when you buy a new pair of jeans or a shirt and it doesn’t feel quite right until you’ve worn it in? Copywriting is like that. When you first start, your copywriting get-up feels a bit starchy. It’s only when you get used to writing copy for different audiences, you start feeling more at ease.
My comfiest outfits include the librarian, psychologist, teacher, cobbler, architect and sales person. Never a dull moment round here, I tell you!
The librarian uniform is dragged out when I need to be an avid researcher, using all the resources at my finger tips to find information. The hunger for knowledge is part of my daily diet…
My psychologist garb is like another skin: it’s one of the most important copywriting skills. Once I understand what makes the reader tick, I adapt my copy accordingly. People are complex creatures who have all sorts of needs and desires, you know. Just need to remind yourself all prospects are human beings first.
Having been an English teacher in a previous life, this suit fits comfortably. Part of my copywriting role is to educate, persuade and inspire the audience. It’s about knowing when to use creative language to entice a reader or whether the ‘whack ‘em head on’ approach works best.
A cobbler? Cobblers! Before you jump to conclusions, remember as a girl I’m naturally au fait with the pleasures of shoes. For copy purposes, I need to fit into readers’ shoes, walk around in them for a while and experience life through their eyes.
I tap into their world, work out what they need and see where the shoe pinches. Then, I make the shoe fit by solving their problems. See? Shoes are essential!
When I wear my architect’s gear, I focus on structure … and the intricacies of sentences or page layout. The structure of copy can have a huge bearing on whether it’s read in the first place. Learning how to de-clutter copy as well as present it well, is an important skill copywriters need to learn.
The sales person
And finally, the sales person costume. To sell, I need more than a smattering of marketing knowledge. I need to know how advertising works, killer sales techniques and different marketing methods. So, it’s not as simple as being able to spell or throw a sentence together.
How is copywriting like a party?
Essentially, it’s about connecting with people. Without that skill, you won’t sell a sausage.
Some copywriting needs to be the life and soul of the party – the one who gets noticed first and shouts the loudest – while other copy needs to be a quieter soul who worms her way into your affections at a deeper level.
Just got time for a quick change, before The Seychelles lures me back…