To me, there’s no mystery to it. You can tell who’s a good copywriter and who’s a bad one within a few seconds of reading their work.
By a good copywriter, I mean one that’s going to write copy (or content, if you prefer) for you that really sells your products or services. One that knows how to get under the skin of your target audience and writes stuff that will get them clicking through to your Buy Now page before they know what’s hit them.
And here’s the secret…
Bad copywriters mostly concern themselves with how they say stuff. Good copywriters concern themselves mostly with what to say.
This is because the message, the offer, the nugget of information contained in the words is always far, far more important than the words themselves.
A good copywriter will ask you loads of very detailed questions about the product, the marketplace and the target audience. And spend a lot of time seeking the razor-sharp idea that will most convince your audience to act (or think) in the way you want them to.
A bad one will simply write some puns around your product name or come up with what they think is ‘clever wordplay’.
I saw a particularly awful example of a bad copywriter’s work yesterday while strolling past the British Museum.
There were some posters on the railings announcing particular exhibitions. One had a picture of an ancient coin. With a line next to it about how things change through history. Geddit? Coin, change?
Trouble is, this headline told me absolutely nothing about the exhibition. I gleaned it was something to do with coins from the picture but the oh so clever headline added nothing to the communication whatsoever. There were several more, equally hopeless.
This is the classic sort of stuff you see every day of the week from Bad Copywriters who have hardly paused for a second to think what the communications objective of these posters might be. They’ve gone straight for a lame pun because they think that’s what copywriters do.
And, as they’ve bought this drivel in the first place, their clients clearly concur.