Copywriting is persuasive writing. At least, that’s the simple definition. Of course, there’s more to it than that.
First, we should debunk the notion that copywriting is only about persuasion. Or that copywriters are soulless hucksters. Copywriters work to inform their readers, using sound arguments and verifiable facts to provide them with the knowledge they need to make good choices. Notice the respect inherent in this concept. Copywriters assume their readers are intelligent and rational human beings, not marks to be toyed with.
Of course, artful writing is important. That’s why copywriters work so hard on their craft. It’s why they strive to create a voice that is appropriate to your project, and to strike a tone that is right for the moment. It’s why they think so much about psychology and readability. It’s why they invoke the senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. It’s why they try to make their copy sticky—that is, vivid and memorable. They do all these things because they know that well-crafted copy is fun to read. And to write.
You could say that copywriting lies at the intersection of fun and technique. It’s fun to write well and motivate your reader. But motivation requires technique, and this is where the science and calculation come in. So copywriters think a lot about keywords and search engine optimization, because, in the digital age, these techniques are necessary for the writing to be found. They work hard on crafting their calls to action, or CTAs, so they can convert visitors to leads, leads to customers, and customers to fans.
That last line brings us back to motivation, and perilously close to commercialism. Which is why we need to stress again that while copywriting has commercial applications, it is not merely commercial in nature. Yes, you can use it to sell products and make a living. Nothing wrong with that. But you can also use copywriting to sell ideas. You can use it to advance the causes you believe in. Copywriting is advocacy.
We live in a media-saturated world, surrounded by text. Do you silently critique copywriting as you read it? What would it be like to live in a world without the stuff?
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