I often define myself as a copywriter. It is, after all, what I do best. I’ve noted, though, that many people don’t know what this term means.
The truth is that, yes, I am a professional writer in persuasive communications. I’d like to think that I’m influencing people’s behaviors in a good way. Not manipulative.
This is what good copywriters do. They take a product, service or idea, find an audience and connect the dots. (Contrary to popular belief by some organizations, not everyone wants to buy every product or service, no matter how good it is. Sorry.)
According to BusinessDictionary.com, a copywriter is a “professional who composes headings, sub-headings, and body copy of advertisements, brochures, catalogs, direct mail offers, product literature, etc. Some copywriters work independently while others are employed by the advertising agencies.”
Sort of, but this definition doesn’t really hit the purpose of a copywriter, which is really to sell. To sell an idea, a product, a new behavior. Whatever it is, it ends with a call to action.
Merriam-Webster simply defines a copywriter as “a writer of advertising or publicity copy.” As a copywriter, I can appreciate the short and sweet definition, but it’s still not enough for me.
I dusted off my old copywriting workbook from college, The Copy Workshop Workbook by Bruce Bendinger. (Yes. Some of us copywriters actually have formal training.) In my “new edition” of the book circa 1993, Bendinger says to the copywriter:
Your job is to take information and images and ideas and make them what they were meant to be.
You must organize them, imagine them, write them, and sell them.
That is what I do.