Having been a copywriter for almost longer than I like to admit, it dawned on me some time ago that I've learned a few things. As they say, you can't take them with you, so I might was well pen these thoughts while I'm thinking of them. And while I have the time. Such a wide range of people need a copywriter that it's hard to know where to begin. So if you're an ad agency creative director, please pardon the next couple sentences meant to get others up to speed.
True, successfully writing for the Web requires certain things. It takes a different tone
than you find in a lot of other marketing media. Not pushy, no hype. Friendly, helpful and honest. It has certain
readability requirements. Some say it also
has to be shorter, or in bite-size bits (although I'd sometimes dispute that). It demands
content that's truly valuable to the visitor. It takes sensible organization. And the
text can't just contain links. It has to motivate the reader to use them.
But that's true of any copy-intensive medium. Good online copy is
because it needs to interact with the reader. Ditto for offline. To be good, marketing copy always needs to
be valuable to the reader, personal, and motivating.
Otherwise, it's bad copy, regardless of the medium.
Granted, online is less tolerant of bad copy, for several reasons.
• One: The reader immediately
has someplace else to go if confused, offended or bored. He or she can even hop directly to the competition. A printed
brochure isn't quite so vulnerable.
• Two: The reader is more personally involved. More likely to feel it viscerally if you waste his
or her time.
• Three: Unlike reading magazines, people often visit websites to find very specific information.
If the reader came from a search engine, and your site doesn't deliver what was promised
there, that's 100% disappointment.
• Four: Conversely, you can't force your copy into the visitor's hands. Unlike other marketing media,
distribution is not fully under your control. If the spiders don't like it, if fellow
visitors don't like it, if it seems like jive for any reason at all, it won't even be seen, let alone read.
How can you sell with strong, "selling" copy if nobody visits?
• Five: Online marketing communications offer such strong potential for converting interest into
immediate action, that failure to interest and relate to the visitor seems an even more terrible waste.
So online, bad copy is risky, while offline you might get away with it. But if you've got a great copywriter,
that's not an issue. Compare good to good. A good marketing copywriter (advertising copywriter,
direct response writer, whatever your angle), with strong interest and an average amount of online browsing
experience, can do an admirable job online or off.
Just don't try to scrape by with a mediocre one.
This isn't a new issue. For decades, most advertising agency creative directors have held
that a print writer can learn to write for TV much more easily than a TV writer can
learn print. The online/offline situation is arguably
analogous -- a print writer may be able to cross over to the Web and email more easily than an
Internet-only writer can move in the other direction.
I've been working on both sides for years.
If I haven't discouraged you with this, I'd be happy to demonstrate.
Or to dig right into your online content job. Please call
You can also interactively search my Samples.