Roanoke Revealed

What is copy writing?

What is copy writing?

This is a term that seems to confuse many. It’s an apt topic for the Small Business Thursday feature as it can be a critical component in small business success.

It’s not copyright, which is something you register at the United States Copyright Office (a department of The Library of Congress). The cost is usually $35-$55 per registration (plus monies spent sending copies to the U.S. Copyright Office).

In short, registering a Copyright means you can collect more on infringement cases. Original work is automatically considered copyright when you publish it, but you’re more limited on what you’re entitled to in damages without official documentation from the Copyright Office. This applies to books, music, articles, photographs and more.

That’s not copy writing. Copy writing involves the words you use to communicate. This can include speeches, award nominations {the words used and highlights chosen do influence decisions}, brochures, letters, media articles, newsletters, books, branding, promotional copy and so much more. Basically, what a {good} copy writer does (even if that’s you) is create an effective message that compels a selected audience to react in a particular way.

It’s as much about strategy as it is prose. Before you can decide what words will work, it’s important to understand what you want a reader, listener or viewer to do. That’s why messages that fail to consider the audiences’ perspective don’t work very well.

When you hear “focus on benefits, not features,” it’s a weak way of suggesting emotional appeal. This doesn’t go far enough. There are too many competing with you to be heard for such a simple approach to be effective. Instead, get into the head of the person (or people) you’re striving to reach for consideration.

Such strategic thinking can be particularly challenging for professional service providers. Industry professionals tend to fixate on how others in their field promote themselves with the assumption prospects make decisions rationally. They don’t. Fear, crisis, competitive concerns, image worries and trust drive contract hiring decisions in very irrational ways.

It takes some creative thought to craft a compelling message that’s memorable when edgy prospects turn ready to become clients.

Think about it. Do you engage an attorney in advance or search stressed-out when you need one? Do you choose a financial planner when you’re comfortable with a retirement surplus or seek one when you’re afraid you won’t have enough money? Are you relaxed and rational when company computers go haywire? Such hiring – and firing – decisions aren’t made with features or benefits considerations. They’re borne from a crisis mindset looking for solace from someone who seems to understand. Presenting in ways (written or spoken) to instill such confidence before emotions run high is how smart business owners prosper.

Helping you communicate with your audiences’ perspective in mind to create trust over time is where a good professional copy writer shines.

Strictly, copy writing is putting words to paper. When it makes you, your prospects and customers nod and smile, it’s more akin to art form. Like so much in life, perspective matters. Why not create one everyone appreciates with your company prose?

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