The Copywriter: Your Friend in Tough Times

Where should your marketing spend be going right now? Many businesses have decided they simply cant afford it at all. Some have switched their spend to search marketing, seeing this as more cost-effective. Others see social media as the answer. But in my opinion, using a copywriter is the key.

Its important to remember what marketing is really for. I feel the most useful definition is the generation of future cash flow. And if you want people to consider buying from you in the future, they need to understand what you offer. Raw exposure isnt enough: you need something to communicate which is where a copywriter comes in.

Even the newest, most exciting channel is empty without content. You may have signed up on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and every other social-media site there is, but what are you actually going to say once youre there? Such sites are tools, not solutions: theyre a way to present your messages to the world. But you still need a message, and it needs to be strong if its going to cut through the ever-increasing amount of content out there.

However, theres more to copywriting than content. A good copywriter does a lot more than just write. In fact, putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) may be the least important part of what a copywriter does. The really useful stuff is the talking and thinking around key points such as:

– What makes your company or your brand stand out from the competition? (Not USPs necessarily, just points of differentiation)
– What particular value do you offer?
– What situations are people usually in when they consider buying products like yours?
– What kind of language do people use to describe or discuss your products?
– What would you like people to think, feel or do when they encounter your marketing or content?

As you may already have realised, some of these points are doubly important when it comes to being found online. When it comes to SEO copywriting, its absolutely critical to think about what words people use in search engines when they want to find products like yours. Build your site around the wrong keywords and youll end up with a deserted museum instead of a bustling market stall. Humility is important: they words youve traditionally preferred to describe your business (the ones you use in offline marketing, perhaps) may not cut it online because people just dont associate them with your product. Again, a good, web-savvy copywriter can help you identify the words that link to customer priorities and then build great content around them, as well as helping you with the technical side of creating web pages that search engines (and humans) love.

But why do all this in a recession particularly? The answer is that sharpening up your differentiation makes the difference between riding the wave and getting pulled under by the tide. People are buying, but theyre thinking too: thinking very carefully about where and when to spend their cash. You need to connect their thoughts with your products as effectively as you can. The copywriter can help you refine your message until it presents the best possible case for people buying from you.

The companies who do this successfully during a recession are those who carve out a new market niche for themselves. It may be a bad time to make money, but its a great time to make friends by which I mean forging new B2B relationships or optimising your B2C brand for the future upturn. A recession isnt a practice lap: overtaking is allowed. Ambitious players rethink what they do and who might need it and content created by a copywriter can play a key role in that repositioning process.

Good copywriters may not be dirt cheap, but when you use one, youre investing rather than spending. The time spent by the copywriter will pay dividends many times over. For example, once you have a great summary of your business (or descriptor), you can re-use it on your website, in presentations, in marketing literature and even in speeches or when networking. Slogans and taglines are indispensable too. A punchy, informative and memorable phrase that sums up what you do can be used almost anywhere, from business cards and adverts to online profiles.

So, if youre wondering how your business is going to profit from the downturn, look no further than a copywriter.

Tom Albrighton is a professional copywriter and founder/director of ABC Copywriting. Services provided include marketing and advertising copywriting, website writing and SEO copywriting. ABC Copywriting's clients include a wide range of businesses, design studios and digital agencies.

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