If you can write words, does it make you a copywriter?

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copywriting is a fine art and profession

Copywriting is not about stringing together fancy words. It’s about establishing and staying true to a brand’s personality that resonates with its target audience. It’s about persuading prospects with words. It’s ‘salesmanship in print’, not greeting-card poetry.

Copywriting is hard work. Being a good communicator is a basic minimum skill a good copywriter must have. Being able to convey his point across in words, powerfully and memorably, should come easily to him. Researching companies, getting inside the mind of prospects, talking the talk of the consumer should be part of the ace writer’s arsenal.

A copywriter’s words become the brand’s voice, and every brand deserves its own distinct voice – a great copywriter knows how to make that happen. A good copywriter knows his products and brands as well as he knows his readers. And of course, he knows how to spell.

This post is dedicated to my readers, regulars and newcomers, who have their own ideas about what makes one a copywriter. And it was prompted by this ‘long copy’ I received as a comment completely unrelated to the post.

No doubt you are looking for some one who is trained in writing copies.
My training comes out of the hands of masters —members of American Writers and Artists Institutef—located in florida,Marina Del Ray.
Most of the copies I provided are flaw less. I am very grateful for the informatuion and efforts I recieved from this institution.
Those masters— Kieran Daugherthy,Bob Bly,Michael Masterson,—are unique in the whole world.
The AWAI is the only place in the world that offers such course.
I believe by my heart that you will not be disappointed having me assigned writing you copies or any other forms of writing.
If I recieve necessary and related information—to whom I am writing, purpose of writing, how long it should be,etc.— you will get the prompotion earlier than you expect so there will be enough time for revision, if revision needed.
If you happened to be interested to give me a try,do not hesitate to call me or writing email.

“It matters not how streight the gate
How charged with punishment the scroll
I am the capitain of my soul
I am the master of my fate”

What advice would you like to give to the writer of the comment quoted below? You’re welcome to post your feedback in the comments section for the benefit of this writer?

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8 Comments

  1. sapna

     /  February 16, 2010

    Hi Farrukh,
    Just tiptoed into this site. Good one on the art of copy writing. But please do add a bit on knowing how to please the client. I worked as a creative writer for four years in India and six in UAE. I quit because I found it ridiculous to change words and phrases just because the client has some past-life grudge against them. Rewording kept happening at such an idiotic pace that I didn’t want my name associated with the final product. I have met clients who believe they are born copywriters and love to correct every sentence – no matter how good it is. And others who presented their own copy with the advice that all it needed was a brush up. We’re talking about copy that couldn’t be brushed up if it fell off the Burj Khalifa!
    Anyway it’s nice to know that someone is trying to make a difference. Have fun.

    Reply
    • Hi Sapna – you write well.

      A copywriter’s job isn’t and shouldn’t be trying to write copy that pleases the client.

      You must try and write copy that achieves the impact it is meant to achieve – make the reader call, buy, think, reconsider.

      What we writers need to do once we have a good piece of compelling copy is to help the client see how it is going to work in getting the required response.

      You can also give examples of previous copy and how it worked.

      Remember though that you can’t please all the people all the time – and some clients only need reaffirmation of their own thoughts – not original thinking or ideas.

      farrukh

      Reply
  2. avinash

     /  December 19, 2009

    Hi Farruk,
    u been saying rightly abt ur work.most valuable words in this
    field r frm ur side.hats off..!!
    i too am interested to make it ur way… can we.
    Promise, we can hit the moon….

    Reply
  3. Nasr

     /  May 7, 2009

    @ Farrukh: You’re a very polite person. Fact is, that AWAI guy shat those words.

    Reply
  4. Dear Farrukh,

    Yes, I did see the HP garage ad and loved it. Like poetry, the rhythm draws the reader in. The statements are bold and uplifting, with a touch of humour: “No politics. No bureaucracy. (These are ridiculous in a garage).”

    A minor quibble: the design. The copy is layed out like a body copy argument, but the headline, ‘Rules of the Garage’ implies a series of statements, which may have been easier on the eye. And I think the writer might owe a small debt to Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata which everyone in the UK has in their bathrooms. But so what? There’s no copywright with copywriting. And that’s what creativity is about, adapting knowledge.

    Like you Farrukh I love the fact that such copy makes for a deeper more persuasive experience. ‘Here we go folks, long copy can work in atl’. Witness also last year’s Fallon/ Orange campaign, ‘I am who I am because of eveyone’.

    Best,

    Steff

    Reply
  5. Well, I figured the comments bit out. Its early and I need to wake up. Well if I ever get to sleep I will wake up.
    My my! What glowing copy the gentle man doth write to promote himself. If his estimate of himself is anything to go on, the man does a rather poor job.
    But when I think of some of the rubbish that runs on the radio adverts or is in newspapers, I can imagine only too well how much in demand this gentleman and many more like him must be.

    Reply
  6. Dear Farrukh,

    Great analysis of the copywriter’s craft – thank-you. But as with actors who get confused with character I think copywriters can get befuddled by brands. I know it sounds sacrilegious but I’m not sure how useful the concept of a character is to an actor or a brand is to a copywriter. What counts are the words, the concept behind them. Brands are a bare stage. I know some CDs who’d lock me up for saying this. But it’s not about ignoring the brand. It’s about breaking down preconceived barriers and maximising the brand’s so called ‘target audience’.

    Here are three of my motivations and guidlines for copywriting:

    a) Commericial poetry – rhythm, economy, creativity – a poetry that encourages action rather than reflection.

    b) “It’s not what you put on the page that counts, it’s what comes off it.” Anon.

    c) Litotes – understatement using a negative as a positive. Rather than thinking about screaming headlines – shouty copy – try a gentler, more incisive, perhaps more persuasive voice. You could do a lot worse. For reference I cite DDB’s ‘Lemon’ ad for VW by Bill Bernbach. Just because it was written in the 60s does not mean you can afford to ignore it. This ad changed the face of advertising. And anyway, technologies change, fashions change, but human nature never does.

    As for the writer of the comment quoted above, I don’t quite know what’s going on here, but it’s always good to have an enthusiastic endorsement of Henley’s poem ‘Invictus’ on a copywriting blog.

    Reply
    • Befuddled by brands – LOL. Nice one, Steffen. I learnt a new word today – ‘litotes’. Did you see the HP garage ad on this blog – one of my favourite copywriting samples.

      farrukh

      Reply

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