Our last Story Shop event was a coffee morning with a talk from our friend, Robyn Collinge, who’s a Senior Creative Copywriter at WeTransfer. She came armed with snazzy slides, Love Actually memes and some really helpful insights for those of us who write for a living. Here’s what I learned from her…
1. You’re not just a writer, you’re a copywriter
Her talk kicked off with a scene setter for us about the difference between regular old writers and copywriters.
She said, “The difference between regular writers (also known as “writers”) and copywriters (also known as “business poets”) is that while regular writers mostly write to resolve some issues with their fathers, copywriters don’t care about that at all. They just want to convince you. Usually to buy something. Or click something, or vote for somebody, or think something.
That’s why copywriting is the perfect career choice for highly manipulative people and
So there you go. Are you resolving trauma or do you want to sell things?
2. Personality is everything, but only if it’s really you
Next, we saw some examples of copywriting in action with plenty of punchy personality to go around. Some of it incredible, some of it cringe.
To cut through the noise, brands are looking to be more out there, creative and quirky than ever. But sometimes, it just doesn’t gel. It’s weird. It would be like your granny coming through and saying “Tesco were out of tea bags but we move”.
When writing, the old adage ‘kill your darlings’ should always be front of mind. As an avid ad consumer, I can always tell when a campaign has been reverse-engineered to fit a pun or clever bit of copy – and whether it works for the brand or not, there it is, I’m reading it on the side of a bus stop on a rainy Wednesday.
So if it ain’t right, cut it and think again.
3. Say what they’ll think
In stand-up, there’s a rule that if there’s a chance the audience will be thinking something about you while you’re on stage – you should immediately address it. Nobody wants to hear a joke from you about anything else until you let them know that you know you’ve got lasagne on your shirt, or odd shoes, or whatever.
Some brands have a lingering aura about them, maybe a past scandal, maybe an insanely hilarious viral moment. Or maybe people think that yoghurt made with oats couldn’t possibly taste nice. Instead of trying to bamboozle them with something totally different, just play on that fact instead.
4. Remember the 4 EEEEs
Robyn went on to talk about her four Es of copywriting, of which, at least one should be your purpose every time you sit down to write something important.
Earn – this one’s obvious. It could be the most boring white paper ever, but it’s paying your bills.
Explain – your writing should solve a problem or make life easier. Not in a lofty save-the-world way, but by telling people where to click or cut.
Engage – your writing should engage people, that’s the biggest goal of all.
Entertain – well, so is entertainment.
This is a great framework to keep in mind, so thanks Robyn.
5. Write for people (obviously)
It’s almost trite to tell writers to write the way you speak, because duh, you should 100% do that. But it’s easy to forget that on the other end of your writing, hopefully, are people. And you’re a person – so you’re halfway there to making someone tick.
Use your human-ness to make something people genuinely like, something a bit different and something that another human would feasibly think or say.
6. Break the rules
And you thought I’d never start a sentence with and? Rules are boring but copy shouldn’t be. If you have to ditch them, so be it. That’s not a license to be sloppy or plain wrong, but having the right to be wrong when it’s right.
7. React to the world around you
Lastly, I learned that good copywriting comes from observing the world around you and reacting to that. Which is always nice to remember.
Examples like this:
Are a great reminder that reactivity isn’t gone because the internet is faster now. There’s still a place for a timely out-of-home campaign.
Now we’re a bunch of certified copywriting experts, why not get in touch to create your brand’s next worthy-of-a-slide-in-a-powerpoint-about-great-copywriting-moments?
Get in touch at email@example.com