As a direct marketer, I bet you’ve heard the phrase “copywriting is salesmanship in print” at least once before. Because it’s what every copywriter worth their salt tells their prospects the moment, they meet them. And there’s a reason for that.
You see, there are people out there who want to sell themselves as copywriters but can’t measure up to the responsibilities of a sales copy crafter. So, they have tried to alienate the term copywriter from what it means. Selling prospects, the pretense that marketing and advertising need to be entertaining and high-quality production value.
If you manage to run into one of those so-called copywriters, avoid them like the plague. Because – while there’s an element of truth to what these mediocre copywriters profess – entertainment and high production values are not essential elements of marketing outside of the entertainment industry.
Your marketing and advertising campaign’s main purpose is not to entertain. Or to present a cinematic production. The purpose of every marketing and advertising campaign is to sell something to the audience.
Hence, that’s why every reputable copywriter makes sure their prospects understand that copywriting is salesmanship in print when they meet.
Before I go over the reasons why copywriting is salesmanship in print, I would present you with two resources that expand on this topic.
My first source is The Copywriter’s Handbook, written by Bob Bly. For this post, I’m going to focus on Chapter 4: Writing to Sell. There, Mr. Bly emphasized the role of benefits vs features in the success of an ad. He also touched on the unique selling proposition as a key marketing element; as well as the importance of knowing your target market.
The second source for this post is the legendary book Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins. Here, put your attention on Chapter 2: Just Salesmanship. In that chapter, Mr. Hopkins described the concept of multiplied salesmanship – how advertising can speak to thousands of people in a moment. Hopkins went over how advertising can be a blessing or a curse for your business, depending on what you choose as the main theme of your campaigns. He also offered tips on what the advertiser must do to gain the attention of their audience.
Now, drawing from the information given in the sources above, as well as my experience as a direct response copywriter, I present to you three reasons why copywriting is salesmanship in print.
Your marketing copy should do more than being words that look or sound good together. Because the purpose of the copy in your marketing campaigns is to aid in the branding and positioning of your product, service, or company.
The copy in your marketing should (at least) bring up whatever point you want the audience to get from your presentation. And your copy should be there to describe what you offer, as well as who you are offering it to.
Let me ask you – would a poster for a credit union be effective by just having the picture of its personnel and the company logo? Would an online financial planning firm generate any revenue by having people moving around doing things, without any voiceovers explaining what’s going on?
Your copy describes what you want your audience to see and understand. Copywriting is what positions your offer. And it’s also what builds your offer’s brand. That’s why copywriting is marketing. Otherwise, you’d just be presenting random graphics and footage to your audience with the hopes that they can put your brand message together.
The very first words in Chapter Four of The Copywriter’s Handbook are:
“The object of advertising is to sell goods,” said Raymond Rubicam of Young and Rubicam. “It has no other justification worth mentioning.”
Advertising exists for the sole purpose of promoting. Whether it’s a product, a service, a business, or a cause – you create ads to let your market know what you’re promoting, why it’s important, and how your prospects can get it.
The most successful advertisers of all time (Ogilvy, Burnett, and the likes) have made salesmanship the purpose of their advertisements. They are not producing ads to boost their clients’ ego or to let the world know how impressive their offers are. They build advertising to sell by letting their markets know the what’s, the why’s, and the how’s of their offers.
And copywriting plays a significant role in that by – just like in marketing campaigns – describing the promotion to the audience.
Like Claude Hopkins said in his book, advertising is salesmanship. And the best way to sell anything is with words. Your copy carries your words in print. And thus, your sales copy is an important – if not the most important – part of your advertising.
You keep hearing that there are differences between copywriting and content writing. But the only difference between one and the other is what they sell.
To me, whoever created the term “content writer” was looking to separate themselves from the salesperson label that comes with the term “copywriter”. But content writers sell as much as copywriters. They just do soft selling, if you will – promoting ideas and causes with the reward being fellowship and influence.
Contrary to the copywriter who sells products and services for money.
Throughout my experience as a direct response copywriter, I’ve learned that “you sell every time you speak.” Or, in this case, you sell every time you type. Whether you are drafting an article promoting the best way to do something, or an advertorial promoting a service – you are still promoting. If you are typing content that has value for a group of people, you are selling.
There’s no true difference between copywriting and content writing other than expectations. There’s a difference between good copy/content and bad copy/content. You can still get fluff either way, and that doesn’t do your business any good.
Starting today, you should understand that copywriting is salesmanship in print and the digital world. Your copy not only promotes but (also) positions and develops your brand. And content writing doesn’t differentiate from sales copy much – you are still selling when you “write content” for your audience.
Do you agree with my stance on why copywriting is salesmanship in print? Leave a comment explaining your side of things. And if you think this article could be useful to someone you know, feel free to share it with them!