The Art and Commerce of Copywriting August 4th, 2008 · 4 Comments by Amy Swift, Chief Product Officer, Ladies Who Launch As a copywriter for much of my career, I always used to wonder why struggling writers never turned to the world of advertising to make a living (while toiling away on their novels!). Copywriting provided a lucrative career for me and one that gave me huge creative freedom, financial liberation, and the chance to work with some of the world’s most innovative art directors and graphic designers, as well as several leading brands. What is copywriting? Creating copy (what you’re reading right now) is as simple as writing words—but true copywriting is actually more complicated. Copywriting is the skill of creating a message or explanation around a product or service, mostly with the intention of selling that product or service. Examples of copy you may have seen before: Just Do It. Coke Is It. Don’t Leave Home Without It. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. These are all taglines that we have come to associate with major brands like Nike, Coke, American Express. A tagline is short, to the point, and, in the fewest possible words, describes what something does or is. There are many nuances and strategies behind taglines (but that is a different article!). Other types of copy could be supporting messages (sometimes called “romance copy”) that further describe a thing. Example: Turns dry, brittle hair into smooth, lustrous locks. This copy explains what the product does (a benefit promise) that you might see on a Web site or on product packaging. Web copy tends to get fumbled the most. At Ladies Who Launch we see a fair number of early entrepreneurs, who may not have experience creating language that works online, take a stab at their own copy. The biggest problem is that they write exactly how they would talk. Web copy needs to be: 1. Succinct 2. Efficient 3. Captivating You need to say the most in the smallest amount of space and convey the message in a way that creates a “hook” without falling back on lazy man’s copy like exclamation points or spam attractors like “New and improved” or “Just in!” It’s best to read professional Web sites to get a clear understanding of how the voice of a company plays a role in the way it talks to customers. All companies have a voice; some are better than others. Virgin Atlantic is one of my favorites. It uses irreverence and humor to explain who and what the company is. Daily Candy also established a sassy, feminine voice early on that has since been replicated over (and over, and over.) Often you’ll find a voice to be very familiar—this is because it worked for one company and others have tried to mimic it. This has been true for much of the feminization of product. Stay away from clichéd names like “Diva” or “Goddess.” They have been beat into the ground by women’s companies and no longer feel fresh. Ideally, you’ll call on a professional when it’s time to write your company’s copy. If you can hire a copywriter, make sure you see everything they’ve done, from products they’ve named to brochures and Web sites they’ve written. Everyone thinks they’re a writer—and that’s okay. But a copywriter solves problems in a matter of words in a way that most people would never dream of. Hire one if you can afford it! For more articles like this, visit www.ladieswholaunch.com, the first company to provide resources and connections exclusively for women entrepreneurs.