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Commercial copywriting - not necessarily for those who love writing

We get a lot of people getting in touch looking to make the move into copywriting as a career. Many of them are vets who are looking for their next challenge – something we can relate to and love to support. Lots of them tell us that they ‘love to write’ – sometimes they describe this as a lifelong passion. Great, right? Well, not always…


Does enjoying writing make you a good copywriter?

We love to write. We love words and language and putting concepts together and creating something that is interesting to read… BUT - and it’s a bit but – our love for writing is NOT what makes us good at our job. It’s not even what necessarily makes us enjoy our job. In fact, if you love writing, there is a very real risk that this job will completely destroy that for you.


What does a commercial copywriter do?

The actual writing is a pretty small part of our role. We spend most of our time enquiring, learning and exploring - working hard to understand exactly what needs to be communicated, and how.


Information gathering

It starts with the client – we get the initial details from them. It usually comes in the form of a brief (which is a word that has different meanings for different clients!) but is typically quite inward focused. That’s understandable – we are being hired to perform a commercial service, so we need to understand the company, its product or service and the main competitors. Sometimes, we get some context about the ‘problem’ that the product or service is aiming to solve and occasionally, we get some market research.


What we rarely get, however, is a true sense of why the intended audience is making the choices that they are currently. This is where we spark into ‘insight gathering’ mode – using techniques that are best suited to the project in question (you can read more about insight here).


Objective setting

To be successful in our role, something that we must understand is what the client wants to achieve. Sometimes, they don’t know (beyond ‘sell more stuff’!) and we can help advise - often based on our insights. Sometimes their intended audience has never actually even heard of them, so brand awareness is the key first step. Or perhaps the intended audience has misperceptions about the therapy area or their product. Or maybe our client’s product has a unique USP that we need to maximise.


Whatever it is, a clear-minded objective is key.


Messaging

Once we have established the outline of what we need to communicate, we construct clear messaging that organises all the points that we want to make. We then wordsmith these points to have maximum resonance with the intended audience - features and benefits are transformed into compelling statements; data and science are delivered in an accessible and enlightening way.


When we are involved in comms or marketing campaigns, it’s often at this stage that we work with the creative team to ensure that all campaign elements support each other. Our experience here has proven time and again that this collaborative approach between copy and creative produces the strongest, most exciting results.


Importantly, this stage ensures consistency across all related materials. It also determines themes of communication that help shape the narrative of what it is that we are communicating, which is vital for bringing the audience on the full arc that ultimately leads to them making the choice that we want them to.


Reaching the intended audience

Sometimes this is pre-determined (e.g. when we are writing a one-off piece), but often, we’ll work with our clients to map out exactly how to communicate everything that we need to in the most efficient way. This process creates a content strategy and list of deliverables that ensure all points are covered, exposure is maximised and budget is distributed wisely. That strategy, if executed well, means the total content created is synergistic in nature – standing strong as individual pieces, but increasing even further in value as a full campaign.


All of the above is often punctuated by things like internal stakeholder engagement, the involvement of subject matter experts, analysis and interpretation of data, testing with the sales force and/or focus groups and regulatory compliance and technical approval.


And this stuff – the stuff that actually makes us good at what we do - doesn’t come from a love of writing. It comes from commercial awareness, a target-driven mindset, and a passion to define and achieve a clear objective. It requires problem-solving skills, an ability to think critically and laterally, and mental agility.


What does being a commercial copywriter mean?

Only after all the groundwork has been laid, does the actual writing happen. What has taken sometimes many days to prepare culminates in those last few hours of focused quill to paper (figuratively speaking – we’re not that old school, as romantic as it may seem!).


Perhaps you’re thinking that this is where the love of writing comes in? That depends on why you love writing. If it is an escape or an outlet, an important form of expression or a freedom to be creative with words, then probably not. Commercial copywriting is all about using words to achieve an objective – to persuade and motivate. It’s about educating and, dare I say it… manipulating. It requires you to dance to someone else’s beat. It demands that you write as someone else – projecting a brand tone, using language that isn’t ‘you’ but is your intended audience.


Because ultimately, as a commercial copywriter, you are a nobody. You never get a by-line. ‘You’ shouldn’t even be recognisable in the end result. You are using language as a tool to do a job – someone else’s job at that. If you love writing, that can be really hard. But if you love applying words to a problem, it’s exhilarating!



Can we help you use words to get the job done? Get in touch info@roarcontent.co.uk

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