Need copy? Here are six reasons to hire a pro
Professional writers are essential if your business depends on effective communication through the written word
Most people know there’s a difference between the skills of a recreational tennis player and those of a professional. And most people don’t assume that a house painter can paint a still life. Yet plenty of businesspeople ask employees with no special training or writing experience to do the work of the professional copywriter.
Some businesses simply don’t need professional-grade copy. But if persuading, branding and building loyalty with a reading audience are important to your business, your return on an investment in professional writing could be considerable. Here are six lesser-known reasons why.
• Basic effectiveness and the suggestion of quality:Lay writers are often unaware of their own technical shortcomings. If the person writing your copy hasn’t mastered punctuation, capitalization, syntax and other basics, that copy will have at least two big problems. One, it will be less clear and precise than it could be. Two, it will prompt readers who know good writing to associate you with something of low quality: your copy.
• Less communicating by accident: When we write, we unknowingly reveal things we don’t intend to reveal: personal biases, faulty assumptions, unintended meanings, subjective realities we’ve mistaken for objective truth, and so on. Unintended messages distract and annoy readers, interfere with communication and harm your brand. No writer completely controls all that he or she reveals. But experienced writers are more aware than inexperienced writers and less likely to communicate the unintended.
• A voice that charms and reassures:Inexperienced writers are often unaware of the voice (or personality) their writing suggests. To understand the importance of voice, consider the different personalities conjured up by the fun, casual copy you can find on a bottle of craft beer, versus the serious, buttoned-down voice you hear from most investment firms.
Diction (or word choice) has a big effect on voice, and good writers make good choices. They know, for example, that writing “purchase” and “utilize” (instead of “buy” and “use”) can make your brand sound stuffy or pretentious. In contrast, the average businessperson unconsciously adopts such business-speak whenever she or he writes anything at work.
• Tactics and guidance, too: Great copywriters don’t just write. They help your organization define its key messages and the right voice and editorial style for your brand. A writer will also create behind-the-scenes messaging documents and style guides that help all your employees stay on message and on brand whenever they speak or write on behalf of your organization.
• Composition that entices: Most lay writers lack the composition skill I call the art of leaving stuff out. They include so many messages in their copy that they create the noise that drowns out their own signal. Professional writers strategically omit secondary messages to make your key messages come through clearly.
Experienced copywriters also compose with the intention of tempting your prospects to read. Imagine you’ve just opened a promotional email. If it has headings, subheadings, captions, bullets and other easy-to-scan elements, you’re more likely to give it a few seconds of your time. If, on the other hand, it’s composed of long, dense blocks of copy, you’re more likely to click “Delete” and move on. Well-composed copy entices. Bad composition repels.
• Audience awareness: Seasoned copywriters are aware of the target audience and the circumstances under which that audience is likely to encounter the writing. Like a psychic medium, a good writer channels your audience, gaining a nearly firsthand sense of the meaning readers are likely to take from the copy. This allows them to adjust nuances for maximum effect.
Inexperienced writers, on the other hand, are prone to forget the people and circumstances they’re writing for. Their copy often reveals points of view, assumptions and premises that don’t quite fit.
• Skills to return a 153-mph serve: Writing is no different from tennis or bowling or cooking; pros are pros for a reason. They’ve spent what most people consider a ridiculous amount of time practicing and poring over craft. And they’ve developed abilities you might never have considered, such as executing a difficult, complex activity quickly and naturally—as if anyone could do it.
If your business depends on effective communication through the written word, find yourself a seasoned professional writer and make the investment.
Dan DiPiro is the copy chief at MarketReach, a Nashua-based B2B marketing agency serving the technology industry.