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. Your ‘Copy’ is an outcome of the messaging strategy; it’s about the how.
For context, four planning tiers should drive decisions about the phrasing, tone, and style in your marketing, sales, and corporate communications…
- Brand Strategy – who you are; what you stand for; how you’re different; how you want to be perceived
- Brand Identity – company look n’ feel (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, video, the message you play when customers are on hold, etc.
Recognize whether copywriting is your strength, and get help if it’s not so that you get good results. Like me; I do some writing but I do not consider myself a professional copywriter. My strengths are creating messaging strategy, and determining content themes that need to be in the marketplace to drive business results. I’m also pretty good at writing scripts, storyboards, and long narratives.
However, I’m a little ‘meh’ when it’s time to put pen to paper for promotion channels that require sharp, pithy copy that hits someone over the head with value and relevance in seconds. This requires a unique talent. When I want true greatness in the copy, I get help from freakishly talented ‘word nerds’.
Or, I may get help from someone who’s great at distilling long narratives. Some years ago, a guy from my department’s tech team was my go-to for copy feedback. He’s a master at reading long narratives, then pulling out the most important message and true intent (he’s brilliant at it without even trying).
The Point is…
Agree on a strategic framework for your brand story and corporate messaging, first. Then, use it to tackle copywriting and content development for your website and other critical communications. 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. 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?
- 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 with people 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.
- Get editorial feedback from someone who can 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.
- 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.