Persuasive Copywriting
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Persuasive Copywriting

Cut Through the Noise and Communicate With Impact

Andy Maslen

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eBook - ePub

Persuasive Copywriting

Cut Through the Noise and Communicate With Impact

Andy Maslen

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About This Book

Enhance your copywriting skills with psychology-driven techniques to create stand out copy that taps into consumer decision making and sells, using this second edition of the ultimate copywriting survival guide for the 21st century - essential to every marketing or creative professional's bookshelf. With many professionals now developing their skills on the job, it is notoriously difficult to benchmark successful copy. This book provides a step up for those who already know the basics of writing copy, and are seeking more advanced, psychology-driven techniques to gain the competitive edge. With practical insight into human decision making and consumer engagement, it will inspire the clear-cut confidence needed to create, quantify, and sell stand out copy in a cluttered marketplace.Complementing the 'how to' perspective of copywriting, with impressive interviews from leading ad agencies and copywriters across the globe, this second edition addresses the everyday issues faced in a multitude of roles, including: -Practical advice to measure and benchmark effective copy
-Guidance on creating and critiquing briefs
-New chapters on how to weave copywriting skills into the wider industry
-Storytelling and content marketing
-The impact of evolving channels like mobile and social mediaPractical, inspiring and extremely digestible, Persuasive Copywriting is the only vibrant, all-encompassing guide to copywriting that you need.

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Information

Publisher
Kogan Page
Year
2019
ISBN
9780749483678
Edition
2
Subtopic
Advertising

PART ONE

Copywriting in a 21st-century context: What now, where next?

01

Creativity

All shall win prizes or a genuinely marketable skill?
Of all the terms flying about in the world of copywriting, the one that gives me the greatest pause is ‘creativity’. I think that’s because it promises so much and yet delivers so little. Everyone has an idea that creativity is a good thing. There are even categories of advertising folk called, simply, ‘creatives’. In this section, I want to explore what the word means for us, as copywriters, and whether and how we can exploit, connect with or otherwise develop our own creativity. But first, a definition.

What is creativity?

What is creativity? And while we’re about it, why are we here, is there a God and what is art? In researching this chapter I did what everyone does and turned to Google. Then I turned away. There are gazillions of attempts to define creativity. Most focus on a few core ideas having to do with problem-solving, originality, newness and non-obviousness.
‘Given time, the brain and the subconscious are able to deliver real magic.’
VIKKI ROSS
Yet I worry that in our industry, the term is defined much more narrowly. You have your new-business people, who bring in the clients. Your account people, who lunch the clients and sell the ads in. Your planners and strategists who come up with insights. And your creatives who do one of two things. Write or design ads. Increasingly now, we are seeing the rise of the ‘hybrid creative’ who does a bit of writing and a bit of art direction.
There’s another word that gives me the creeps. ‘Art’. The day ad agencies decided that graphic designers were ‘art directors’ was the day commerce was shoved to the back of the room and given a horrible nylon-covered chair with chewing gum stuck to the seat.
A hint of the mystery attached to the word comes from its dictionary definition. The first four words of the definition of ‘create’ in my Shorter Oxford English Dictionary are these:
‘Of a divine being… ’
In the Renaissance, the idea of creativity was bound up entirely with the idea of a human being as a vessel for a divine spark of creation. It wasn’t until the Enlightenment that the word began to take on connotations of human cognition and imagination.
In layperson’s language, ‘creative’ means ‘arty’ or possibly ‘crafty’. They would not, generally, consider engineers, soldiers or urban planners to be creative, even though these three, and many other, jobs involve a huge amount of problem-solving, imagination, non-obvious thinking and improvization. Whereas a man painting the same landscape over and over again for his entire adult life, as does the father of Henning Mankell’s fictional Swedish detective Wallander, would receive the designation ‘creative’.
I find Graham Wallas’s five-stage model of the creative process useful in mapping the way copywriters (and designers) solve problems using creativity.
  1. Preparation (preparatory work on a problem that focuses the individual’s mind on the problem and explores the problem’s dimensions).
  2. Incubation (where the problem is internalized into the unconscious mind and nothing appears externally to be happening).
  3. Intimation (the creative person gets a ‘feeling’ that a solution is on its way).
  4. Illumination or insight (where the creative idea bursts forth from its preconscious processing into conscious awareness).
  5. Verification (where the idea is consciously verified, elaborated, and then applied).
Graham Wallas, The Art of Thought (Solis Press, 2014)
Let’s map these stages onto the copywriting process and look for some inspiration along the way.

Preparation

The problem a copywriter faces is, ‘How do I sell product X to prospect Y?’ (I could add, while staying inside the brand voice, assuming there is one.) I touch on this aspect of our job in the section on The right and the wrong way to judge copy on page XX. Our start point should be the brief, and all the background material – customer profiles, research, earlier ads and marketing materials, competitor advertising and so on – that they provide. Or should. But there are many more activities we can engage in to immerse ourselves fully in the world of our client and their customers.
  • We could visit the client’s factory, offices, call centre, trading floor or retail outlets.
  • We could spend some time on their social media feeds.
  • We could interview a bunch of their customer service people, or their sales team.
  • We could spend some time using their product for ourselves. (I am, at the time of writing, still waiting for a call from Maserati.)

Incubation

Beyond all of these activities, I would also recommend some of those I talk about in the chapter How to engage your imagination and free your creativity on page 188. I have many of my best ideas while walking with my dog in the fields near my home. It’s equally likely that an idea will bubble into your unconscious mind while you are sleeping or doing some non-writing-related activity. When I picture young copywriters playing pinball or table football in the rec rooms so thoughtfully provided by their agencies, this is what’s happening. I hope.

Intimation

I get the feeling of an idea’s arriving as I sit at my desk, staring at an empty screen, fingers hovering over the keyboard. It’s on the tip of my tongue. I try to look the other way so that the idea can complete its journey from my subconscious to my conscious mind. At this point I can almost hear competing voices in my head, all clamouring to be heard with their version of ‘the line’. This leads to…

Illumination or insight

Yes! That’s it! I just know that this is the way to go. I’m willing to trust this moment and then try to write the idea down as fast and as furiously as I can before the spark dims.

Verification

I start typing, hesitantly at first, then with growing speed and confidence. Critically, I do not look up from the keyboard. Never having learned to touch-type, I find this very easy. I don’t want to see what’s appearing on screen, lest I be tempted to backspace over it, judging the writing before it’s even finished. Instead I bash away as fast as I can, trying to capture those elusive few lines that will open the way to the rest of the copy. From there on, it’s a process of finishing the execution (the first draft), then leaving it for a while before returning to redraft, polish edit, check and show it to our creative director for her opinion....

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