I have gone back to school. After over 30 years I am gracing the hallways of advanced learning. I am not really going to class, I do most of the course online, but you get the point. I am an old guy in a new land. It’s a fish out of water type of tale!
I’m in week three and from this point on I will be discussing what I learn in the form of a blog. This week’s lesson is “Learning to Write Marketing Copy.” (Lynda.com, 2017)
I was intrigued, I have been a copywriter for over 30 years and I was wondering if you can teach an old dog new tricks. As it happens you can, but I didn’t find a lot of new in this tutorial
In the overview, they talked about the different types of copy, the different styles and mediums. Nothing earth shattering here, but solid information.
I had a bit of a chuckle when the instructor suggested, when writing go to a quiet office, shut off phones, do not allow distractions for 4-5 hours while you write. This fellow obviously hadn’t worked in a radio or television copy department. I imagined sauntering over to the creative director and saying “Yeah, I am writing this afternoon, 4 maybe 5 hours, I will be going to my quiet place, please hold my calls!” It is a great idea in theory just not very realistic.
When I write I tend to not do it in front of my computer. I write while I drive, while working out, or even when I am sitting on the john. By the time I get to my computer, most of the copy is done in my head, or at least the structure of the piece. This is what I think he meant when talking about creating a plan.
The good stuff was the rules; sentence lengths, paragraph lengths and the idea that every 3-4 paragraphs you should break it up with a headline or a photograph.
I have always believed that copywriting is actually rewriting. You sort of puke out the first draft and then the work begins. Your headline, your hook is a crucial element in copywriting and now with the web there are services that allow you to test the strength of your headline. Services like the Google Consumer Survey.
I would have liked the session to focus exclusively on Social Media Copywriting, but it wandered a bit into other forms. I suppose that is alright. Never hurts to have a refresher.
The last segment dealt with rewriting existing copy. The thing to remember when doing this is that you are acting as an editor and not the writer. You look for bloated copy, unnecessary words, striving to make the message concise, to the point, making sure the reader understands.
It helped me when they talk about a writing ratio:
70% is your basic, need to be in there copy. 20% is something just a bit different, a different style, a different idea. 10% is innovation. Try something new and different and if it works it can move up to larger parts of your writing ratio.
Social Media Copy is talking; it is a conversation and not just passive words on a page.My wife is an instructor at NAIT and she teaches copywriting for radio and television. She suggested I check out a blog called “The Belligerent Copywriter’s Guide!” Be warned it isn’t updated very often and it uses nasty language at times, but it is a really good read.
The one suggestion they had which I liked, was starting a word bank. This word bank consists of words and phrases that can be used with a specific client and can become a style guide.
When I look at everything I’ve learned this week I think the most relevant to me and my company Hired Gun Productions is using the active voice when writing. I like talking and now I can do it in my copy.
Next week the topic is Social Media Marketing for Small Business.
Dubowski, M. (n.d.). Good start, needs more Gibberish. Google.
Luethi, C. (2017). Headlines attract attention. Words by Cornelia .
Lynda.com. (2017). Learning to Write Marketing Copy. NAIT.
Shutterstock. (2017). Copywriting.