Marketing Messaging and Copy Are NOT the Same Thing (…And Why You Should Invest in Professional Copywriting)
Your Messaging Strategy sets the foundation for what your brand needs to talk about, and why. Copy is more about the how – it’s an outcome of the messaging strategy. So let’s talk a little more about that.
For context: Four planning tiers usually drive decisions about the phrases, words, tone, and style used in marketing, sales, and corporate communications.
- Brand Strategy –who you are as a company; what you stand for; how you’re different; how you want to be perceived
- Brand Identity – look n’ feel of your company (logo, colors, typography, imagery, etc.)
- Messaging Strategy – general approach to messages that you want your customers and potential buyers to see, hear, and love
- Marketing/Sales Strategy and Plan – plan for getting noticed in the marketplace, getting leads, closing deals, making customers happy, and growing the business
More About How Copy Fits In
Again, your Copy is an outcome or delivery of your company’s messaging strategy (so is graphic design; so are videos; so is the message you play when customers are on hold).
If copywriting is not your strength it’s best to recognize that. Get the help and results you need (shout out to my writing peeps). Like me – I do some writing but I do not consider myself a professional copywriter. My strengths are creating a messaging strategy, and determining what stories & content themes need to be in the marketplace to drive business results. I’m also pretty good at business writing, scripts & storyboards, and narrative content.
But when it comes to putting pen to paper for promotion channels requiring short, sharp, pithy copy that hits someone over the head with value and relevance in seconds, I’m a little ‘meh’. This requires a unique talent. When I want true greatness in the copy, I get help from those who are freakishly talented at distilling messaging and writing compelling, tight copy that truly speaks to an audience and makes them react.
One of the best partners I ever had for tight succinct copy was on our tech team. He was a master at listening to or reading long narratives, and pulling out the most important message and true intent (he’s brilliant at it without even trying).
If you are a company wanting to create a new or improved website and other critical corporate communications, my suggestion is to first agree on a strategic framework for your brand story and corporate messaging. Then, use that to tackle copywriting and content development – the messaging simply informs the latter. You’ll see how much easier development is and how much faster you get business when you have a foundation that is clear.
Final Tips To Make Your Copy Sing
- Invest in great copy. Don’t expect great copy to be delivered in a couple of days. None of the work means anything if you don’t get results, so invest at least as much if not more in great copy as you do on other things. Isn’t copy after all, the ‘product’ that may ultimately get people to take action? Why would you not invest heavily and thoughtfully in that? Try it and see what happens.
- Do some due diligence as you dive in: a) consider and incorporate the company’s style guidelines as well as best practices in the marketing industry; b) consider best practices for each delivery channel (website vs. email vs. blog vs. video, etc.); and c) assess what’s worked for others in your business or company.
- Validate the message or story from those on your team, in your company, or in your network who are great at listening and digging for – or picking out – the nuggets and underlying point/value. Even if you are good at this, it may be better to get help from someone who is great at it (or not as close to the messaging).
- Get editorial feedback from someone who can review the draft, and edit for style and structure with the brand’s objective and target’s mindset in mind. Good editors can often make you aware of where you’re missing the mark, even if they aren’t writers who can fix the copy.
- Get stakeholder feedback from customers and frontline representatives. Ask them point-blank how/if they would respond to said copy.
- Proofread, test it out, and refine using performance metrics and other insights.