Which Would You Prefer: A Copywriter Who Writes? Or A Copywriter Who Thinks?

This is the (real) story of two clients who recently contacted me around the same time when looking for a strategic copywriter.

Each had filled out the client briefing template on my website. Brilliant! – I always bang on about how the stronger the client brief means the stronger the work. Unless it’s been filled in by an experienced marketer or strategic planner, I don’t expect the creative brief to be perfect – but, it’s the start of a conversation and a journey along which I aim to provide advice as a strategic copywriter.

Image of a lightbulb on a black background with a thought bubble drawn around it to illustrate thinking up bright ideas, to do with the importance of finding a copywriter who can think, not just write, which is the topic of this blog by strategic copywriter Caroline Gibson

Why it’s important to identify the USP

Any copywriter worth their salt should be able to get to the bottom of what makes a brand unique. They need to be able to spot the good things and the bad things about a product, service or business. And the best way to find that out? Interrogate the client. Unearth the gems that they may not be able to see for themselves in a woods for the trees way, either because they’re too close to their brand or they lack sufficient strategic experience.

One massively – and all the emboldening in the world can’t emphasise that adverb enough – key question on my client brief is ‘What’s the single, most important thing that makes your product/service/brand the best?’ In other words, what’s the unique selling proposition (the USP)? What’s the one key thing that would make a potential customer choose your brand rather than one of your competitors? Quite often, clients list three or four points but being single-minded is vital … remember: the stronger the client brief, the stronger the work.

Why it’s important for copy to sell benefits

Copy has to sell benefits, not features … people buy a story, not a product. To deliver the greatest value, you need to connect emotional activities with emotional mindsets.

My job as a strategic freelance copywriter is to help clients identify the one true point of differentiation, nail the proof behind it (known as the ‘reason to believe’ or ‘RTB’) and then articulate it through a clear and distinctive way tone of voice. 

As Paul Griffiths, who created Virgin Atlantic’s hugely distinctive brand, says, ‘In the modern consumer marketplace, you have to stand for something clear and deliver it consistently. It doesn’t matter whether it’s cheap, like Ryanair, or premium like Virgin Atlantic. The customer knows what to expect and can choose the product they want.’

Why it’s important to delve deep into a client’s brand

Back to the story …

Client A’s brief (I can’t name them as I had to sign an NDA) was hmmm, rather wafer thin. It was for a very new service but lacked enough detail as to who would use it, why and how. We arranged to Skype. I asked lots of questions which didn’t really get answered. I queried the strapline they’d suggested because it sounded negative and didn’t really align with the service.

Client B also sent back a thin brief but asked to meet. We spent over an hour going through every aspect of their service in fine detail. Questions got answered. Suggestions got made. And value got added, as I was also able to advise on their site navigation and photography. Paying for experience can pay dividends.

How did this story end? Unfortunately, I felt I honestly couldn’t work with client A going down a one way street.

Why it’s important to ask the right questions to get the right answers

A good working relationship has to be a two-way process in which you can freely share thoughts and make something good into something even better. There were too many flaws in their thinking that they didn’t want to discuss.

As for client B, their website is now live + ticks all their boxes. And business is on the up.

If you’re looking for a strategic copywriter, make sure you know how to get the help you need. And you may like to start with my blog on how to find the right copywriter.

Written by Caroline Gibson, freelance strategic copywriter who’s not bad at coming up with some good award-winning creative ideas too.

E: caroline@carolinegibson.co.uk T: +44 7957 567766

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