7 Essential copywriting tips

Since Christmas the studio has been in lockdown as we’ve been working on the copy for a new consumer lifestyle brand project. It’s all about cosy-living, warm feelings and emotional content – and we love it.

Working with some really exciting new ideas and on some incredible new content and digital marketing projects has got us all inspired – and we want to share that enthusiasm with you.

Some people will tell you that writing is a vocation, an art and a skill that just can’t be taught. Tip #1: These people are lying.

Everyone is, to some degree, creative. Often however they’re inhibited or embarrassed to engage in the creative process, or just don’t understand how the copywriting process works.

To help you get creative with your content here are 7 practical ways you can recharge your creative batteries. These aren’t textbook tips, but some simple things that inspire us. If they work for us, they may work for you…

Tip #1: Capture everything

Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time. If you don’t grab it, then it can disappear. This phenomenon is infinitely more likely to happen if you have had a drink when you come up with your ideas.

Carrying a notebook can help you capture those immediately, wherever you are.

It doesn’t need to be a beautiful Moleskine notebook either. A notes app on a phone or tablet is a great place to jot down ideas. We would talk here about how amazing One Note is on the iPad Pro but we’ve been threatened with physical harm if we do.

We’ve used receipts, bills and even Christmas Cards to capture our unfiltered and immediate thoughts.

Get the idea down first, everything else can wait.

Tip #2: Don’t force it

The biggest impediment to creativity can be a deadline.

Give yourself time to consider the challenge and approach your copywriting challenge in different contexts, in different situations and in different places.

We might sound like SuperNanny, but you need to allow your content babies the time and freedom to grow and develop. This time is also useful in recognising whether that incredible, amazing, life changing content idea you had hasn’t already been used on a billboard you pass every day on the way to work. (We have seen this happen).

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Tip #3: Use your free focus group

Content that works has to have a purpose. Whether it’s for a website, leaflet, billboard or social add should inform and inspire; helping the customer understand the product or service and form a connection which could lead to a sale. For it to have a purpose, it has to work – and not just for smarty-pants copywriters, but for the general public.

The best way to test an idea is to use your friends, family, drinking buddies or acquaintainces as an informal focus group.

The best thing here is that if your idea is useless, they will tell you very quickly. (If this concerns you see Tip #6 and #7). A formal focus group will cost upwards of £3,000 a time. An informal one might cost you as little as a few beers and a takeaway.

Tip #4: Play around

You initial thoughts and ideas should act as a starting point to creativity. Play around with the form, function and focus of your copy.

Move words around, play with the form and encourage some creativity. Understanding grammar gives you options. Even the simplest sentence can be structured in different ways. In some cases you can wilfully disregard rules.

Our rule is: If it works, it works.

Tip #5: Perspiration = Inspiration

Sometimes you can’t force an idea in the office, you need to approach it with an open mind.

Exercise is a great way to clear away any negative thoughts, release some endorphins and perhaps kick that amazing idea from your subconscious mind into your conscious one.

This might sound trite, but while working with the Tour of Britain we often did early morning meetings actually on our bikes. What better way is there to be inspired by cycling than to actually go cycling?

If it doesn’t work, you’ve been out for a cycle ride. Which is brilliant.

Tip #6: Never be precious

When you take the money, you realise very quickly that you’re not writing for yourself, you’re writing for a client.

They may like what you do and pay you handsomely. On the other hand they may hate everything that you put in front of them. You won’t know until you’ve presented it to them. It’s nerve wracking, but it’s why we do the job.

Experience, a thick skin and sense of humour can see you through the toughest of meetings. It’ll make you a better copywriter in the long run.

(Keeping the customer firmly in your mind while writing was also going to be one of our tips, but it seemed so obvious we thought we would spare you)

Tip #7: Learn to laugh

One of the best things about copywriting and marketing is that it is fun. It is a process that should make you smile.

Even when writing about the most serious – or mundane – things you can possibly think of it can be enjoyable.

If it’s not, you’re not doing it right.

And when someone comes up with the most clichéd, trite and over-used phrase you’ve ever heard don’t roll your eyes. The worst ideas often give birth to the best…

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And if they don’t, well at least you’ve tried… Give us a call and we’ll do it for you.

42group is a leading Bristol communications and marketing agency that helps organisation to tell their stories. We are expert commercial and technical copywriters for leading brands and businesses. We also aren’t afraid to share our insights either.

We help our clients to help them develop, design and deliver marketing, communications and content  campaigns that make a difference. If you’d like to chat about how we can help you tell your story, contact us today.