Every professional writer seeks to master the craft of writing effective copy that clearly communicates your message. But sometimes writing needs to do more than communicate: it needs to convert. When writing for marketing and advertising, the copy strategy helps guide writing that drives leads and sales.
Here are my steps to developing an effective copy strategy.
What is a Copy Strategy?
A copy strategy is a companion to a copywriting brief. It describes how the company or product position will be executed in writing, and the criteria by which the copy will be measured. Copy strategy performs two important functions:
- For the client: the copy strategy communicates to the writer exactly what you are looking for in the finished copy. It creates a checklist whereby copy can be evaluated for effectiveness and success.
- For the writer: the copy strategy creates a framework for the copy before you begin writing. It guides what the content will include, how the content will be positioned, and how the content will be evaluated.
If you are writing advertising or marketing copy, and the client has not provided a copy strategy, it’s a good idea to create it yourself.
7 Step Guide to an Effective Copy Strategy
An effective copy strategy includes the following:
1. Define Your Objectives
Clearly and succinctly describe the goal(s) of the copy. Try to choose a single, measurable objective, rather than creating a long list.
2. Profile Your Target Audience
A good audience profile goes deeper than demographics. Effective copy requires an understanding of who the target audience is, and what motivates them. Developing an audience persona is crucial, not just for copy strategy, but for all strategic marketing decisions.
3. Set the Tone
The tone of your copy is an expression of the brand, and should be consistent with other brand materials. Even when you are targeting different audience segments, brand tone and voice should remain consistent.
AIDA is a classic model for consumer decision-making during the sales process. It stands for:
- Attention: a brand, product, or advertisement captures a potential consumer’s awareness
- Interest: a brand or product’s features and benefits interest the potential customer
- Desire: the potential consumer has a favorable opinion of the product
- Action: the potential consumer takes a desired action (makes a purchase, visits a website, goes to a store) based on that desire
Effective copy strategies can be designed to appeal specifically to targeted groups at a specific stage in this process, moving them a step further down the funnel (for example, if a potential customer is already at a brand’s website, we might assume they are past the “attention” phase, and the objective of that web page might be to move them into “desire”), or a copy strategy may be to move a potential customer all the way to a purchase decision (for example, a traditional commercial may introduce a product, explain its features and benefits, and then tell the audience where to go to buy it).
5. Promote the Benefits
Don’t just explain what your product or service does: explain how it benefits the consumer. Demonstrate how your product solves a problem that your audience has, or gives them something they need.
6. Provide Evidence
Simply claiming that your product is the most and the best isn’t enough. Persuade your audience by providing evidence of your claims. Show side-by-side comparisons, research and facts, or video demonstrations of the benefits of your product or service.
7. Key Messages and Keywords
The most effective copy is memorable. And the most effective web copy is findable. A good copy strategy includes key messages that will “stick with” the audience and have a lasting impact, and that message should also include keywords that help direct the consumer’s action.
Copy Strategy Summary
An effective copy strategy bridges the gap between a writer’s brief, and a specific brand or product sales strategy. Following these seven steps ensures that your copy communicates, persuades, and converts.
What is the definition of a Copy strategy?
Copy strategy defines how the writing will agree with a larger sales or marketing strategy, and how a product’s position will be implemented in the copy.
What are the key elements of a copy strategy?
A copy strategy contains all the same components as a sales strategy, but narrowed down to a specific writing task. It defines the copy’s objective, audience, content, tone, and messaging.
How do I evaluate my Copy Strategy?
While it may be tempting to evaluate a copy strategy based on measurable outcomes (specific units sold, clicks, engagements, and so on), that isn’t always reasonable. Consumer actions may be driven by factors outside the scope of the copy, such as price and availability, ad placement and media buys, competitor products, etc.
When you are confident that your copy is consistent with your larger brand and product strategy, but still want to measure it against business outcomes, the best way to evaluate it is with A/B testing. Testing can reveal whether there are strategic weaknesses in the copy, or whether the strategic weaknesses are in the larger marketing strategy itself.