A creative matter of balance

House balancing precariously on the edge of a cliff
Date: October 16th, 2018
This month, as I’ve re-learnt the knack of balancing the ‘creative professional’ hat with the ‘busy mum’ hat on return from maternity leave, I’ve found myself reflecting how important balance is. Not just in my own work-life juggling act, but in the craft of copywriting itself.
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As many a working parent will tell you, getting back into the swing of work after a year immersed in an alternative reality of nappies and naptimes is a rather a fine art. It involves a mixed bag of emotions, a mountain of logistical considerations, and a significant switch in brain gear. This is the second time I’ve tackled it, with my son being baby no.2, but it’s still a major balancing act to re-master.

That said, I am truly relishing being back at the creativity coalface. Getting to sit and play with words for whole days again; putting on my professional ‘hat’ to attend inspiring networking events; reconnecting with clients; and generally switching my brain from “mummy” to “wordsmith” to produce work of which I’m proud.

And, as I’ve got back to grips with the weekly tightrope walk, I’ve found myself reflecting how important balance is not only in our lives, but in the very craft of copywriting itself.

On one side of the scales… Copywriting is CREATIVE

Copy needs to use a voice and creatively tell a story as much as any novel. It should grab people’s attention, seeming different or engaging enough to inspire the reader to keep reading - or to pick up the leaflet, or to click further into the website.

That’s the ‘arty’ bit of copywriting (and the ‘creative’ in Coopman Creative). Anyone can write a list of what a company sells or a charity stands for, and tell people bluntly to ‘buy now’ or ‘support us’; but it takes more of a creative cookie to couch this information in interesting, engaging, perhaps witty (or conversely, serious) language which defines a certain tone of voice for the brand, speaks the language of the target market, and grabs attention early on. Most copywriters want to come up with good reads, not snory sales pitches.

But... Copywriting is not purely creative writing.

I’m not a novelist or a poet, or even a journalist (though who knows what I might turn my pen to one day?) I cannot go off on linguistic flights of fancy, however original or attention-grabbing the results might be.

On the other side of the scales… Copywriting is a SCIENCE

Successful copy doesn't just engage, but persuades. Ideally achieved subtly without the reader quite realising it’s happening, promotional copy should prompt a response in the reader in a way that other creative writing doesn’t often set out to do (other than an emotional response). The goal of a copywriter is to provoke a concrete action amongst its audience; whether it’s getting the reader to pick up the phone or write an email, buy a product or service, sign up to a cause, or simply think differently about a brand.

This is achieved - scientifically - through research, preparation and careful language crafting. My ten years’ experience in professional marketing teams gave me a comprehensive grounding in this science. From considering a brand’s product or service, its audience and its competition; to choosing words that highlight benefits of the product rather than merely its features; to establishing authenticity and credibility. Not to mention how to phrase the actual call to action itself. Far, far more can be said on each of these, and I’ll go into more detail on them in future blog posts.

So now that you know…

Next time you pick up a leaflet or browse a website, look for both the science and the art in its blurb. Appreciate the fine balance being woven between creativity and persuasion, which - if it’s done well – you wouldn’t normally even notice.

And raise a glass sometime to balancing acts. Those being performed by working parents the world over; and those by the humble copywriter, crafting copy that inspires, entertains and enthuses, whilst eliciting the intended action from its audience.

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