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What Is Copywriting?


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27 replies to this topic

#1 copywriter

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 05:06 PM

What IS copywriting anyway? This is a question I get asked all the time. Surprised?

Is it the creation of a message designed to sell something? Is it writing like any other writing? What defines "copywriting"? What makes it different than writing articles, press releases, or white papers?

Give it some thought and let me know your definition.

#2 Bernard

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 05:51 PM

I always understood copywriting to refer to writing copy (genius, huh?).

According to my diictionary,

copy - ... 4. matter, as a manuscript or illustration, to be set in type or put on a printing plate 5. anything that can provide subject matter for a journalist, novelist, etc. 6. the words of an advertisement, as distinct from the layout, pictures, music, etc.

Therefore, I consider copywriting to be the act of writing words to published (whether it is an ad, article, brochure or webpage).

#3 Scottie

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 06:24 PM

My opinion- :cheers:

A copywriter should be able to effectively and clearly evoke a feeling or convey a thought using written words.

The copywriter typically is charged with conveying someone else's feelings or thoughts into words, so they should be able to get "into" the mind of company/person/product to understand the goal of the writing project. They also need to get "into" the mind of the target audience for that message. Then they translate the original message into one the intended reader can understand and relate to.

The project may be a 3-word tagline or a 3-part article with flowing imagery but the goal is the same- to convey a message using written words. In my opinion, the difference in copywriting is considering the audience.

#4 copywriter

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 06:46 PM

Bernard,

So then... does that mean that the words that are published in a novel are copy?


Scottie... you've told me what a "copywriter" is supposed to do, but you have not defined "copywriting." :cheers: Wanna try again?

#5 Bernard

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 08:58 PM

Yes - according to one of its several definitions.

#6 copywriter

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 06:00 AM

Hmmm... I'd have to disagree with that. I know that's what Webster says, but in the practical sense of the word, I wouldn't think that the words published in Moby Dick would be the same or similar to words written for a brochure or site.

By the way... I don't have a hard and fast definition either. That's why I'm looking for ideas. When I'm asked to explain what copywriting is I give a general overview from my own opinion. I'm just interested to see what others thing.

#7 idrive

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 06:39 AM

wouldn't think that the words published in Moby Dick would be the same or similar to words written for a brochure or site.

Aha! This is where a copywriter comes in!

You would expect a different type of reading to occur between a novel and a brochure. A copywriter must anticipate what the audience requires and using words, present thoughts in the manner that the audience desires.

A novel would be much more long and drawn out and designed to entertain ( or thrill or whatever). A brochure would be shorter, punchier, and have the goal of making the reader buy, attend or seek more information.

#8 Bernard

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 10:49 AM

As I mentioned before, I think copywriting = the act of writing words to published.

I don't expect that all copywriters are ghostwriters or proficient at every genre of publishing, but all are, in effect, writing copy for publication IMO.

I suppose you could spruce up my simple definition to be more descriptive:

copywriting = the act of writing words to published for a specific purpose and usually targeted to a specific audience.

Better?

#9 sheriw

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 04:26 PM

Hi, I think one of the problems here is that words often have more than one definition. For instance, Miriam Webster defines copy as a "matter to be set especially for printing b : something considered printable or newsworthy -- used without an article <remarks that make good copy -- Norman Cousins> c : text especially of an advertisement" .
While all of the definitions are acceptable, those in the advertising industry have taken the definition to be "c" by common useage. Copy is text meant to advertise something in this "lingua franca", just as SEO means "Search Engine Optimization" to many web masters, but these letters could mean something else in another setting.
So in defining a word, we need to look at its CONTEXT.
And this fact is itself vital in copywriting. Copywriting looks at the context: how will it be used? Who is it trying to reach? How is it trying to reach its audience? Some have described it as "selling with words", but not all advertisements are a direct call for sales. Sometimes, they are meant to produce an image in the mind of the person (brand identity) or to inform. But most copywriting is done for businesses (whether directly, on the client side, or by outsourcing) to increase their sales in the long run.
Sheri

#10 copywriter

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 05:58 PM

Sheri,

I'd have to agree with you there. While I still wouldn't consider "any" words meant to be published as "copywriting" I would say that - for marketing purposes - that the words used to convey a message or information related to marketing or publicity would qualify as "copywriting."

#11 Vertster

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 09:51 AM

Hi guys :aloha:

I would add to the definition:

"Writing with the intent of persuading the reader to a pre-determined end" In other words, buy my stuff or else!

Actually, "A copywriter is a salesperson behind a typewriter," is the definition given in "The Copywriter's Handbook" by Bob Bly. I recommend this book to anyone that hasn't read it and it interested in selling from their keyboard.

#12 copywriter

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 12:49 PM

Hi Vertster! Welcome! :rolleyes:

"Writing with the intent of persuading the reader to a pre-determined end."


I like this definition best of all. Great stuff! Vauge enough to be all-inclusive, but specific enough not to include "all" writing.

Excellent!

#13 mgpdirect

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 06:56 PM

As a direct marketing copywriter of some 20+ years standing, I'd define copywriting as this...

The crafting of a specific message with a specific goal to a specifically targeted prospect or customer to generate a specific response that is written to that reader's total self-interest and the sender's ultimate profit.

And I wouldn't have it any other way!
;)

Roberta Rosenberg
mgpdirect.com

#14 Jill

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 07:28 PM

Hey, mgpdirect, could you be more specific! ;)

Just kidding...

Jill

#15 Ron Carnell

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 07:58 PM

Writing that sells?

But, uh, what writing doesn't sell? It may not be a product being sold, and there may be no exchange of money, but Melville was selling his readers something just as much as was Patrick Henry, George Orwell, Karl Marx, or Claude Hopkins.

I think the only thing of note that ever differs is the audience.




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