In a world where journalists and politicians communicate in 140 characters or less and more people have Netflix accounts than they do library cards, it easy to wonder if there’s any real value in copywriting anymore. Gone are the days when you could fill an entire magazine page full of copy to sell your brand; now it’s all about the image. But good copy can still impact an audience and create stronger impressions than slick logos and flashy ads can alone. Take it from some on-screen wordsmiths with something to say; here are five quotes about the power of writing for the discouraged copywriter.
“That’s the beauty of argument. When you argue correctly, you’re never wrong.” ~ Nick Naylor, Thank You For Smoking
Some theorists claim that ALL writing is argument, whether it’s a 200-page thesis, a marketing email, or a tagline. Whatever the context, every time you write, the goal is to convince the reader to accept your message. Whereas an academic writing a research paper is vulnerable to counter argument, the copywriter has the luxury of one-way communication with the power to convince customers of a brand’s concept, value, and identity. If Nick Naylor can sell cigarettes with good argument, you can sell anything with strong copy.
“I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity.” ~ Geoffrey Chaucer, A Knight’s Tale
Good copywriting creates lasting impressions, something that will resonate with audiences long after they’ve read it. A clever tagline or a snappy slogan stays with people, as do the brands and products associated with them. While Chaucer wanted to immortalize the awfulness of the summoner and the pardoner, a copywriter can immortalize the greatness of a brand or product.
“I am the author. You are the audience. I outrank you!” ~ Franz Liebkind, The Producers
Copywriters frame the context of their writing and determine exactly how the audience will read their message. While it’s true that not all audiences interpret messages the same way, the copywriter has the upperhand in determining the presentation and the delivery of their words. A meticulously masterminded message can reach even the most resistant of readers. While hopefully you never have to write anything as polarizing as a musical about Hitler, knowing that you’re in control as the writer can give you the confidence boost you need to crush it with your copy.
“We’re going to sit at our desks and keep typing while the walls fall down around us because we’re creative – the least important, most important thing there is.” ~ Don Draper, Mad Men
It’s true that creative services like copywriting rank pretty low on the corporate totem pole; there’s good reason as to why the poor writer stereotype is so persistent. Ironically, it’s that same undervalued creativity that copywriters provide that companies and brands need to survive. Without it, a business is just a bunch of managers and accountants with no idea how to sell their product. Don Draper has to save his company with the creative power of his words. For good copywriters, that’s a typical day at work.
“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” ~ John Keating, Dead Poets Society
There’s good reason why the written word has stuck around as long as it has. It’s documented our history, told our stories, and allowed them to be shared. It’s also not showing any signs of going anywhere soon. We may read less as a society, and there may be mediums for branding that are quicker, flashier, and less verbose, but a good copywriter can capture the attention of any audience and deliver messages in unforgettable ways with the power of words.
So keep beating your head against the wall and keep mainlining coffee as you furiously clack at the keyboard. Accept each rejection and welcome each rewrite. Ignore the naysaying, and any time you start doubting the value of copywriting, stop and remind yourself that all the frustration, all the writer’s block, and all the revisions pay off in the end when you’ve composed compelling copy that can’t be beat.