The greatest bluff I have ever come across in advertising is, “Copywriters are born, not made.”
To be honest, this ad-adage has no real value and had perhaps been conceptualised long ago by a herd of influential people who wanted to con and control the field within their own circle or lobby, facing no competition as such from anyone external.
Whatever it is, the fact remains as simple as that, “Copywriters are made, not born, and copywriting is not rocket science.”
Now, let me help you experience a few nuggets of copywriting, so that you can actually understand the subject on your own.
WHAT IS COPYWRITING
Copywriting is a stunning and successful occupation and, as anything successful has many fathers, this profession is also having many definitions.
The simplest being: “Copywriting is nothing but salesmanship in writing.” It’s a little customised version of John E. Kennedy’s BIG-TIME definition of advertising, “Advertising is salesmanship in print.”
Though, if you want to elaborate, you can define it as, “Copywriting is an art and science form of communications to market the image (emotional benefits/connects) or functional benefits; promo-offers or mere-mentions of a Brand (product/service) in different media, on various mediums, ensuring results such as brand-recall, sales, repeat-sales and, last but not least, evangelism*.”
*Evangelism is a phenomenon that climaxes a consumer to become and remain as a loyal Brand custodian who spreads the Brand-goodwill to others rather voluntarily.
BASICS OF COPYWRITING
Of course, copywriting is not a cakewalk; at the same time, it’s not as tough as walking on the moon.
Every copy structure follows the old yet ever-gold formula called AIDA.
Where ‘A’ = Get Attention; ‘I’ = Arouse Interest; ‘D’ = Stimulate Desire; and ‘A’ = Ask for Action.
Ideally, in an ad, Headline (and sub-headline) along with visual(s) (unless the ad is totally copy heavy) gets the attention and arouses the interest of consumers. Body copy does the rest. And Baseline (if any) communicates the line of positioning/image of a Brand.
For example: “The complete man, since 1925.” The baseline of Raymond’s clearly conveys what the Brand’s image is and how it connects with consumers, emotionally.
However, this abovementioned formula is not untouchable. And like any other laws, AIDA has its exception as well.
For instance: The ads of United Colors of Benetton. In those ads visuals say and do it all, leaving hardly any room for copy to live in.
HOW TO WRITE COPY
Before jumping onto the keyboard to construct any copy, a copywriter needs to do a set of things –
a) First and foremost, reading and analysing a creative brief properly and thoroughly. In case any doubt prevails, a copywriter should always ask for clarity on the brief and should be very clear on his mind even about what’s not written in the brief but very much present there as between the lines’ expression.
b) Ideation should be done next. Preferably sitting along with an art-partner. This ideation process should not deviate from the objective of communications – as stated in the brief. And ideas are mostly welcome visually, since visual is a universal language that cuts across every barrier, globally.
c) Once the idea is cracked, constructing of copy should be done on the blocks by getting answers to the following questions –
·What’s the objective of the piece of communications that you are going to write the copy for? I mean, what the result is to be yielded by the ad?
·Who’s your Target Audience/Group (TA/G)?
·What do you want to communicate to them?
·Where do you want to reach them? I mean, what’s your media mix?
·Why do you think they will trust your communications?
·What are the triggers are you offering them to take an action, fast or slow?
•What mechanism are you embedding in your communications to measure their actions, later on?
d) And when mind is ready with all the answers at a convincing level, copywriting should begin.
TIPS FOR COPYWRITERS
If you can memorise the following points, copywriting won’t crash on you like any meteoroid –
1) Think of simple ideas. Because it’s only consumers who can make or break your ideas BIG or small. So don’t suffer from the paranoia of thinking BIG ideas, every time.
2) Be observant and absorbent to the core. Use your all five-senses plus the sixth sense i.e. commonsense all the time. And learn from your day to day affairs. As you have to write ads for people who are always around you, unlike the aliens.
3) Read a lot. From comics to cosmic stories. From sex to spirituality. Whatever comes to your hand, flip through its pages. More you read, better you write.
4) Follow ads. Good ones as well as the bad. It helps you understand the nuances of communications.
5) Write in “easy-to-connect” language. For that matter, if you have to trouble Mr. Wren and Mr. Martin; take it easy. As a line like “Ye Dil Maange More” of Pepsi is not grammatically correct but successfully sold off and acclaimed in India. So copywriting is not writing grammatically correct things only, it’s about writing something that ignites a consumer’s passion and empathises with his/her emotion.
6) If you are just beginning your career, make sure to develop your mock portfolio. That should hold at least 5 fictitious campaigns of yours done on different brands. Your portfolio should encompass print ads, TVC storylines (if not script or storyboard), and radio spots.
7) After you write copy, read it aloud. If your copy is jerking here and there phonetically then it’s not good copy. In that case, improve your lines until they read and sound smooth.
8) Subsequent to your creation of an ad, if you don’t feel like seeing the ad again with the same passion and interest when you created it first, immediately tear off the ad and make your waste-paper bin glad with it. Because it’s crime to expect others will see and appreciate your ad, which you yourself are no more interested in.
And on a lighter note, you may also remember a few more points to be a successful copywriter though application of those points is entirely your risk.
I) Go for hair, (moustache), (and beard) maneuver.
II) Flirt like anything with the opposite sex in office or outside.
III) Fart in the closet of AC conference room while you don’t feel like attending a mundane job-list meeting.
IV) Have sex, safely and secretly, as SEX SELLS.
Finally, “Happy copywriting!”