The Best Tool for the Job: What Type of Copywriter Do You Need?

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Would you let a dentist remove your appendix?

I can hear a resounding ‘hell no’.

Would you cut your hair with a lawnmower?

No, I’m quite fond of my ears thanks.

Ok…would you want Slipknot to perform ‘Duality’ at your wedding dance?

Not unless I want to work ‘hands over ears’ into the choreography.

You’re probably wondering what my point is…and here it is:

Just because you have a tool, doesn’t mean it’s the right one for the job. (An actual tool, not a metaphorical one, copywriters).

In every profession there are specialised areas of expertise. Just because a copywriter isn’t a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ doesn’t mean they’re not worth their weight in writing gold.

Specialised is a good thing. They’ve honed their craft. They’re focused and knowledgeable about the area they love.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s revisit exactly why you need a copywriter in the first place.

What’s the Point of a Copywriter?

No, this isn’t me as a writer having an existential crisis (although we are prone).

Understanding exactly why you need a copywriter in the first place is crucial to understanding what type you need.

One thing to clear up: the majority of the population aren’t copywriters.

Do you spend every waking day of your life writing?

Do you painstakingly obsess over every word, punctuation mark and message?

Have you spent years writing for brands?

If no to the above, you’re not a copywriter.

Copywriters are trained in the art of persuasion. Our job is to evoke a desire for potential customers to want to engage with your brand. We know how to capture your brand essence and make it relatable. We create emotional connections.

When you’re having trouble putting pen to paper, we swoop in and create persuasive and engaging content that talks directly to your customers.

Now that’s cleared up…

What Type of Copywriter is For Me?

Simply choosing a copywriter without direction is a bit of a stab in the dark. Think of it this way: if you wanted a French teacher you wouldn’t just chuck ‘tutor’ into Google would you?

You need to get specific about what your needs are.

Let’s walk it through…

The Technical Copywriter

If your company is technical you’re going to need a solid, technical copywriter who can translate your products and services to your audience.

The job of a technical copywriter is kind of like mixing oil and water. They have to mix two ingredients that don’t want to blend: technical messaging and persuasive writing.

Technical writers need to take pages of technical jargon and create clear, concise and easy to follow copy that customers will easily understand.

Skills to look for:

  • Technical expertise and background. They need to have a wide portfolio of past technical writing projects with proven results.
  • Clear verbal communication. If they’re talking in technical jargon-y language to you, that’s not a good sign of things to come.
  • Research and analytical skills. A technical copywriter can’t know every piece of tech inside out. Their brain would dribble out of their ears. But they should be good at getting to grips with new technology fast – so ask them how they approach research in an area they’re unfamiliar with.

The Direct Response Sales Copywriter

Here’s a question: Do you sound sincere when on the phone to customers? I’m sure you do.

But how easy is it to convey that sincerity when it comes to your emails or adverts? What sounds natural over the phone can quickly seem forced and even a bit cheesy when written down.

That’s where the direct response sales copywriter comes in.

Just like a salesperson’s patter, direct response writing is designed to lead a customer to make a buying decision right there and then, in that very moment. The action is immediate.

Take a look at these hard-hitting, result-yielding examples in this article by B2B Marketing.

Skills to look for:

  • An eye for the numbers. Direct response writing is the most measurable kind of copywriting, so a direct response copywriter should know exactly how much impact their work has had. Don’t just look at the words in their portfolio – ask them to show you conversion or sales figures too.  
  • Do they write conversationally? A direct response sales copywriter must be able to write emotional copy that’s concise, simple, and engaging. Ask yourself: Are you engaged when reading their work?
  • Striking headlines. First off, all copy should have this. But direct response writers should be even more on the money, simply because they need readers to read on and act immediately.

The Digital Marketing Copywriter

Marketing mostly lives online nowadays. So finding a copywriter who just specialises in digital marketing is a bit like finding a taxi driver who “specialises” in driving petrol-powered cars.

In other words, any copywriter who doesn’t understand online marketing is way behind the times.

But the online world moves fast – and some copywriters are better than others at getting their running shoes on and racing to catch up.

These writers will have an innate understanding of the psychology of internet browsing and sales, including how long potential customers spend on a page, what calls to action encourage people to click through for more information, etc.

And they’ll be great at keeping up with new search engine optimisation techniques, new tech for building better websites, and the best way to grab customers’ attention on every social platform.

Being recognised as a top digital marketing company on DesignRush, we know that effective digital marketing copywriters need to have a broad understanding of digital skills. It goes way beyond idea generation and the art of copywriting. They need to be digital marketing masterminds.

Take a look at this article by Single Grain, with highly effective digital marketing campaigns to see the magic in action.

Skills to look for:

  • Conversion rate optimisation and UX testing. Solid knowledge of how to optimise conversion rates and the user experience is essential.
  • Metrics experience. Knowing how to handle and interpret stats is vital for measurability.
  • SEO knowledge. An SEO copywriter will have a good grasp of keywords and keyphrases and the inner workings of Google. Bumping you up to the top of Google will have a high impact on engagement levels.
  • Social media savvy. Ask them which techniques they use to drive engagement with their copy, and ask them how they stay up to date with all the latest newfangled social platforms that have the kids scrolling from dusk till dawn.

The Ad Copywriter

We’ve moved on from the days of Don Draper-style ad men pitching in a smoke-filled room. But ad copy still plays as vital a role now as it did back then.

Ad copy commands attention. It sticks in your head and makes you remember it. It’s dynamic, psychologically based and very tricky to get right.

Ad copywriters understand what makes consumers tick. Then they create copy that grabs hold of their heartstrings with an emotional trigger.

Skills to look for:

  • A creative edge. Ad copywriters are creative copywriters. They should be able to create unique, powerful copy that instantly engages.
  • In touch with the audience. Customers rarely care how awesome your company is. They care how it will impact them. An ad copywriter worth their salt will understand how to talk to the customer.

Want some inspiration? Here’s an article by Hubspot with the best ad campaigns of the century.

The Conceptual Copywriter

Conceptual writers essentially convey the opposite of ‘what it says on the tin’. They see the bigger picture and create stories, using words conceptually and building a story in the reader’s mind.

Take 3 Mobile for example. In 2013 they decided to use a Shetland Pony moonwalking to Fleetwood Mac to sell their mobile phones.

Why did this work? Using the tagline: Silly Stuff. It Matters, they conveyed the concept that all the seemingly funny and stupid stuff we look at online, actually matters. Coupled with their brand strapline of ‘Keep on internetting’, they are reinforcing their brand position of keeping people connected online.

Clever, right?

Skills to look for:

  • Highly creative. Conceptual writers are hard to come by. Ask them about conceptual campaigns they’ve written for in the past.
  • An eye for the bigger picture. They will need to be capable of creating stories. Want to put them on the spot? Give them three words and ask them to tell you a 30 second story around them…if nothing else it will give you a laugh.

The AI copywriter

This copywriter’s a pretty divisive figure. More divisive than that guy who’s really friendly but insists on drying his socks in the office microwave. 

Some people love this copywriter for their ability to magic up a blog post, a script, or a social post faster than you can say “cyborg”. 

Other people swear they’ll never work with them – that they’re unreliable, uncreative, and prone to making things up. 

Yes, AI copywriting tools really get people worked up. 

But could they really take the place of a human copywriter?

The fact is that – just like flesh-and-blood copywriters – AI copywriting tools have their strengths and weaknesses. 

They’re great at compiling information, sifting through data to find trends, or even coming up with “thought starter” headlines, introductions, or puns to get the creative ball rolling. 

But they’re not so good at coming up with original, creative ideas. And they do have a sliiight tendency to make up facts and figures, just to make you happy. 

The truth is that you probably won’t be hiring your very own AI copywriter in the future.

(Although at least you could count on them not to microwave socks in the office kitchen.)

But you probably will be hiring copywriters who use AI to work more efficiently. Cutting out some of the inefficient bits of copywriting to make way for more creativity. 

So, what does a great AI-enabled human copywriter look like?

Skills to look for: 

  • Creativity in spades. Uncreative copywriters will be tempted to lean on AI’s bland, unoriginal copy, instead of using it to create something way better. Instead, look for a copywriter who has a variety of creative, engaging copy in their portfolio – you know they’ll use AI to reach an original idea faster, rather than letting it do the work for them. 
  • They know what they don’t know. There are plenty of LinkedIn gurus out there claiming to know AI inside out. But the tech is constantly evolving – and the best writers will be dedicated to keeping up with the latest advances. Be wary of anyone who claims to be an expert. 
  • Experienced prompter. AI gives as good as it gets – which means your AI-enabled copywriter needs to know exactly what to ask it to get the result they’re looking for. 

The Blogger and Content Strategist

There’s a big difference between creating a blog and a successful blog. While a blogger and content strategist aren’t one and the same, you need both to make your blog work for you…and if you can score 2-in-1 that’s a result.

Creating valuable, engaging content that’s strategically carried out will do the following for your business:

  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Build a loyal readership
  • Make your brand an authority
  • Improve SEO
  • Create value for your customers

For an in-depth look at what content marketing can do for your business read this article by Inc, or download our FREE ebook ‘The Fluff-Free Guide to Content Strategy’.

Skills to look for in a blogger:

  • Conversational, journalistic tone. Many ex-journalists make the best bloggers. Blog posts are long pieces that need to build up a story to keep the reader engaged. Check for a journalistic background in a copywriter and you could be onto a winner.
  • Understanding of brands. Make sure your blogger has experience in copywriting and how to talk about your brand. It’s not enough to just write good articles, they need to convey strong brand messaging too.

Skills to look for in a content strategist:

  • A visionary. A content strategist should understand your audience, what captivates them and how a copywriter can translate this in the content.
  • Understanding of content creation, distribution and connection. There’s no point creating valuable, engaging content if it isn’t seen by anyone. A content strategist will know how to make your content visible and build up your mailing list.
  • Measurement capabilities. Measuring effectiveness is a big part of the content strategist’s remit, so looking at ROI and stats will be important.

The Copywriting Agency

Lastly, you’ve got the holy grail of copywriters: the copywriting agency. And yes, we would say that, but with good reason.

An agency cherry-picks the best of the bunch. They save you hours of trawling through CVs and work examples to serve up the perfect copywriter for the job on a plate.

Freelance copywriters are great. They really are. But agency assurance is a luxury that’s going to stop you tearing your hair out with proofreading, quality checking and editing copy when it comes in.

Also, a good agency will have a pool of every single writer around. You might need a blogger right now, but combing the internet for a direct response sales copywriter next time around might not be appealing.

Skills to look out for:

  • Check the portfolio. As always, agencies should have an extensive, broad and professionally-displayed portfolio of past work.
  • Creative website copy. Let’s face it, if their web copy leaves you yawning, there’s not much hope for yours is there?
  • Do they cover all bases? Make sure they have every writer you’re likely to need, on tap.
  • How much will they be involved? Your copywriting agency should be taking any stress off your hands, delivering you sparkling, engaging copy at the end of the project.

There you have it. Now you have all the knowledge you need to choose the right tool for the job. There will be no bloggers writing your sales copy, no content strategist writing your ad copy. It will all be beautifully streamlined, with customers falling over each other to get to you.

Until next time.

Konrad x

Want to get inside your prospects’ minds and sell more?

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Want to get inside your prospects’ minds and sell more?

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About the author

Konrad Sanders CEO & Lead Strategist at The Creative Copywriter
Hey you. I’m Konrad. A full-funnel content strategist and CEO with a pretty darn creative noggin on my shoulders. I run a team of word-slinging cowboys and strategists who blend science with art to help bold brands get their words right at every step of the customer journey. Which means? They sell more stuff and grow predictable revenue. Brands like AECOM, Thomson Reuters, TikTok, Panasonic, Adidas, Mercedes-Benz, plus shedloads of tech scale-ups...and you? Let's connect.

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very helpful – there’s not just many written niches when it comes to industries and content type, but the role itself. even for those figuring out why type of copywriter to be/break into, there’s so much nuance and consideration to be made. thanks again for another good post, Konrad.

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