Summary: One of the biggest conflicts in the professional world is between copywriters and brand managers or those who are responsible for determining if a communication is right for the brand audience or not. The blame does not belong to any one of these categories. After all, they are both working to help the brand put its best foot forward. This article demystifies the source of the conflict and provides pointers that can help both brand managers and copywriters act from the same script.
Reading Time: 5 Minutes
Meet Emeka and Madeline.
Emeka is a copywriter at Seedstars. Seedstars is a software developement company that helps companies and micro teams better manage their human resource. Madeline, on the other hand, is the brand manager for Seedstars. She has to read, approve or change Emeka’s copies to meet with the brand voice and help them market their application to other users.
Emeka has discovered a problem predominant with the users of their application. The problem is emotionally driven and thinks that more copies with an emotional feel can help remedy the problem since more users have resorted to them during the pandemic. But that’s not all. Emeka realizes that this strategy can help Seed stars gain traction online when users mention it, driving adoption of the application.
This discovery happens when Emeka has been asked to overhaul the copies that guide the user experience in the application. He is also working on a how-to-use guide for the seed stars app. He draws up a draft and has decided to speak to Madeline about his observation and subsequent solution.
Madeline, however, will have none of his wimps. According to her, the voice he wants to use will look unprofessional. She shuts down his ideas and asks him to keep communication and guides simple. He adheres.
Two months after, there is an internal review, and brand growth has stalled. Seedstars has lost three of her major clients to the competing brand, Offices, and Madeline has to find out why. During her search, she finds out that two weeks after she kicked out Chijioke’s idea, Offices unveiled the exact strategy that Emeka suggested, and it was the social media reaction to the strategy that has driven the recent growth of Offices, the competing brand.
All Madeline can wonder is what if?
The Goal of Effective Copywriting is not to Get Noticed
We would never be able to quantify the impact of effective copywriting. We can only guess the effects a particular piece of copy has made by putting together the numbers we think are important or should be tracked. But in the end, things like rescuing a dire situation or being a trigger that sets someone away from depression or mental stress are not reflected in the record books.
One of the reasons this happens is because copywriting appears in so many ways and we forget that it is copywriting and that’s one of the most important characteristics of a good copy. If a random customer who knows nothing about marketing and copywriting suddenly feel like they are reading scripted content without emotional touch, the aim of such copywriting is defeated.
Great copies do their work without being noticed until the work is done and the perceived or planned impact is delivered. Whether it is somewhere along the user experience journey, emails and newsletters, or articles, copywriting that aims to aid user or buyers’ journey is supposed to make customer experience and journey seamless.
Copywriting’s Chain of command
Nobody understands the power of writing more than copywriters themselves. Hence, during the planning and development of copies that will be used in apps, newsletters and generally materials intended for customers who are not experienced with the technicality in the field, writers must push their agenda for a more inclusive but more effective piece of writing.
This part is important because a particular piece of writing goes through a chain of command before it is finally shared. When it comes to the point of approval before it is finally shared, a lot of changes might have been made. These changes can damage the intended reason for such a communication style in the first place. Brand managers are mostly those responsible for approving the final communications and writers must push the right reasons for creating the various copies they create, especially when it is a little unconventional.
Only The Brand Suffers From A Disagreement Between Brand Manager and Copywriter
No disrespect to brand managers but brand managers who have not made a conscious effort to understand some of the reasons why certain writing parts are necessary can be the grim reaper, not just to a copy but to the copywriter’s practice. This will even escalate to the brand or product and render the customer experience unpalatable. It further restricts the progress of a product.
Errors from copywriting that lead to unpalatable user experience, either from the copywriter, the brand manager or the person who approves or changes the copy, are difficult to spot. An excellent product can be tampered with as a result. But in an actual sense, the copy should have been changed or the initial copy that was changed maintained. Remember that some user experiences with a product will be good or bad depending on the copies that guide the experience.
During the development of actual brand communications through copywriting, brand managers need to understand why a particular tool writing style or approach (voice, tones, figures of speech, comic relief, etc.) is used in customer-centric communication. Any misunderstanding in this regard can ruin the copy as stated earlier. If the brand manager does not understand the purpose why a writing style is applied it’s almost impossible that they will be approved.
When “Being Professional” Means Something Different.
This conflict comes to a boil when the communication involves a particular brand that has a brand image tagged professional. Today, when we say that a brand is professional, what we invariably mean, in the books of brand managers or even top hierarchy, is that the particular brand communication must be rigid, insensitive and pass the message, without any emotions but simply state the basic facts.
This, however, is far from the truth because all the professional team in today’s business world has more than enough space to accommodate emotional and conversational tones. More so, communication styles that aid customer experience. We need to remember that at the other end of our brands or the other end of our communication are human beings who are moved by the slightest things. No matter who you are and who/what you think your customer is, human beings will always respond to emotional communication.
Want to know why? It is because most of the time, buying or coming on board to a product is not entirely a logical decision. It is first of all an emotional decision. While there is a fine line between being professional and being downright playful, undermining the brand speak and preferred communication style, striking a perfect balance that nudges customers to have a great experience with a product is what you want to achieve.
How Brand Communication Through Effective Copywriting Can Win Hearts
Today, we have so many examples of brand communication that we now consider industry standard because they brought a good copy head and transformed the adoption of an already excellent product. Two striking examples are Ope from Cowrywise and the copywriters at Slack. These experiences are making us rethink what a good copy is. They show us that good copywriting, deployed at the right time, through the right channel, can change the entire feel of the brand and bring people on board, creating a seamless experience.
Sometimes bureaucracy can indeed hinder effective creative and relevant communication but we hope that the balance between professionalism and creativity is struck so that customer experiences can be better. We write copies to ensure that our products that interact with customers deliver an entirely seamless experience. As copywriters, brand managers or senior management working directly with copywriters, here are 5 basic things you can do to ensure that there is an intertwining of emotions with peerless brand communication.
1. Keep it Conversational
Customers will never get used to conversational copies. Conversational copies are copies that engage them and keep the discussion going in their minds, long after they’ve read your article, read your social media caption or seen your copy during a phase of their user experience. Conversational copies apply simple tactics of everyday discussions. They flow around the use of simple questions that have obvious answers as the conversation moves them in the directions of the product you are selling or introducing to them. You can use short crisp stories that are split within various paragraphs to illustrate the importance of the various aspects of the product.
Even if they are not acting or buying immediately, conversational writing can keep them reading the information because of the way it draws them in. Remember, the longer they stay, the easier it is for you to convince them.
2. Make it Stick
Make your writing stick. According to Dan and Chip Heath’s Made to Stick, your writing or piece of copy has to hit at least three of these rules or principles (simplicity, surprise, concreteness, credibility, emotions and storified). Every product or experience point will appeal to a combination of some of these and it’s your job to find the perfect blend. Remember that at every point where the customer interfaces with the product, you have two goals. The first is to get them to purchase and the second is to get them to come back. Buying can mean an emotional action of which you may not necessarily get the feedback.
3. Keep Communication on Brand
Earlier in this article, I had pointed out that Brand managers can use sentences like: This is not on brand or this is not professional to stifle an excellent piece of copy that could have led to an impressive adoption and retainer rate. That said, writers must be allowed to create, but they also have to be in touch with the boundaries and the nuances that guide creativity for a brand. Whatever you want to do, make sure that it is consistent with the brand voice and you can explain to the brand manager why it is relevant and how it is on voice. Brand managers and the gatekeepers of brand communication do not have to fight world war 3 with writers before a creative piece of content goes public.
4. Be Empathetic (Show empathy that wins people over)
Buying is rarely a logical decision. While this is common knowledge in marketing and product development, it’s one of the easiest things to forget. While there can be an unusual focus on emotional manipulation, excellent writing that employs simple emotional triggers that tug at the heartstrings have always won hearts. There are two examples to buttress this.
Ope from Cowrywise is a legendary voice for all Cowrywise customers because of his/her legendary emails that turn random financial emails to love letters. This is because the writer employs a unique blend of popular and trending information to drive the point home.
When Ope writes, she can turn a random email about finance into a love letter and once in a while, she pops up with a checkup email. The same email goes out to thousands of people but with personalized and time-relevant messages, Ope ensures that people can keep using Cowrywise longer than they intend to.
The second example is the Slack platform. Who would have thought that app description on the online store was a perfect avenue to check up on people’s mental health during the Pandemic? Apparently, Slack did. Adoption of the slack platform as the workspace of choice has skyrocketed during the Pandemic, and the writers at Slack decided to use that avenue to put out a message of care and support. Someone somewhere in the world would decide because of that gesture.
Remember that people make decisions and not companies. This, however, will miss the point if we think that the Slack choice of writing messages in the app store was a one-off event. It’s not just about how they used the opportunity. A review of the slack user experience shows that the platform’s use of a slew of relatable messages, descriptions and explanations at various points in the app’s user experience is a key feature of the brand. In a crowded industry, simple tactics like this can be the difference between being profitable and flunking out of the market.
5. Translate technical terms the way it matters to customers
Finally, the fact is that your business is in a technical industry can mean that it will have too many technical terms irrelevant to the customer. For example: if you are a finance platform working with blockchain technology, you would understand that no matter how important the blockchain is to your business it is too technical for customers to understand. Hence, when you guide your customers through all the processes and procedures they need to use your products, keep the communication as simple as possible.
Explain key terms and lead the discussion from the customer point of view. If you explain from the expert point of view and use technical terms like you are talking to experts and not adopters, you will lose your customers. While customers care about how you handle the details they hand over to you, they do not want to be bogged down with the technicalities of how these things work. They want just enough information to know that they’re not making the wrong decision by trusting you with their data or their finance.
That’s why it’s very important to take the effort to spread out or explain technical terms that cannot be left out. Writing or talking in industry terms can be exhilarating to the writer but totally meaningless to the customer.
Writing or rather effective copywriting can make or mar a brand. Like I’ve pointed out before, a good product can be tampered with when it doesn’t sell because it wasn’t explained right or the copy did not do justice to the user experience. Three simple questions that can always help copywriters and content developers create the right communications include:
Is this on brand? Is it empathetic? Does it explain this in a way that is free from technical jargon?
I trust you will write and approve better copies from now on. Don’t forget to leave a comment if this resonated with you. Let’s continue the discussion in the comment section.