Them: So what do you do with yourself?
Me: I work for myself, I'm a copywriter!
Them: Oh, you legally copyright stuff?
…then this whole blog would be ghost-written while I smoked cigars in a 5 star hotel room and stacked piles of cash to the ceiling. To be a copywriter means, literally, that I write copy. If anything, I am a writer. Yet in this day and age, calling yourself a writer means that you write novels or short stories. Those of us who write content that enables businesses to market themselves more effectively and engage their target market, are left to be confused as some kind of person who makes a living authorising the ©'s on products all over the world. To be fair, there are professions whose titles still have me searching the dictionary or Google. Only last week did I learn what a milliner is. Perhaps if I lived in my grandparents' generation or frequented horse racing events I wouldn't have been so ignorant?
All the same, this has got me thinking about what is most important for any business in regards to promoting themselves. Many people who make contact with you won't want to know so much what the features of your business product or service are, but specifically how it will help them. I'm sure you could list plenty of the specific features of your business, but what about the benefits? Would a hotelier talk about the number of staff they had, the furnishings, the lunch menu or the times for laundry service? Perhaps, but far more important is it for them to advertise the fact that guests can stay in spacious, quiet rooms that not only offer very competitive rates, but are close to the city and public transport. In the first instance, we hear about the hotels' features. The second time around, we hear instead about the benefits. Which of the two is more likely to convince us to check-in?
One crucial part of being a copywriter is looking at how any given business, individual or organisation benefits their customers. Without getting bogged down in the industry-specific details, instead we need to think about what aspects of our business or service will appeal the most to customers in layman's terms. Many times, the difference between sale and fail is whether or not people can distinguish between what you can do and what you can do for them.
So next time you meet somebody new- whether a casual acquaintance at a social gathering or a potential client at a networking event- instead of being fussed about the title of your occupation and the features of your business, focus instead on communicating all the benefits of your business. Find out first what this new person is involved in- what keeps them busy, what they are working away at- and then (being subtle of course!) communicate with them all the ways your business can benefit them.
Get into the habit of doing this, and the results might just surprise you...