Just exactly what kinds of writing projects can a newbie copywriter – or any copywriter, for that matter – expect to do?
Dozens. But in the end, it all boils down to three basic types of pieces. Read on …
Three Broad Project Categories
Copywriting, or “writing to sell,” is a broad term. To break it down, think about the simplest steps in the selling process:
- Planning. You plan what and how you’re going to sell.
- Selling. You get the product into consumers’ hands.
- Information. You get more of the product into more hands.
Copywriting projects fall into three categories which parallel that selling process: planning (strategic planning projects), selling (sales pieces), and re-selling (content).
A good copywriter understands how different kinds of writing projects fit into one of these steps in the selling process. Each project has a specific role in the process. Once you know how the project fits into the whole, writing the piece becomes a lot easier.
This simple outline can help you understand the three categories, different goals for projects in each category, and how they fit together in the sales process.
Project Category #1: Strategic Planning Projects
Newbie copywriters may be surprised to learn about this crucial need among business owners and organizational leaders: putting down strategic plans on paper. Oftentimes a leader has ideas in his head but simply cannot get them organized. Enter the copywriter.
These kinds of projects are often used internally as a starting point for sales pieces and content. Their main functions are to help leaders organize and plan. A copywriter who can effectively produce strategic planning projects has the ability to listen to a client, translate concepts into words, organize thoughts, create schedules, make an argument on paper, think strategically, and read a budget.
(And incidentally, a copywriter with these skills is extremely valuable to a client.)
Types of strategic planning projects
- Case statements
- Ministry summaries
- Mission statements
- Strategic planning
- SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
- Values statements
Project Category #2: Sales Pieces
The main point of a sales piece is to sell – to get the click, gift, or sale. What you sell is up for grabs. It can be a product, a service, a course, a cause, an idea, an event, or anything else.
A sales piece (also called a promotion piece) can be very short (a catalog description) or long (a magalog.) Regardless of the length, the principles in all sales pieces are the same: grab the attention of your target audience by presenting a problem they face. Show how your product is the solution to the problem. Make an offer so enticing it is difficult to refuse.
A cousin to sales pieces are cultivation pieces – those projects whose underlying purpose is to continue to cultivate a long-term relationship with the reader to get more sales and more customers. Cultivation pieces often include a soft ask. The emphasis is on the established relationship already enjoyed by the two parties, such as in a thank you letter or annual report.
Types of sales pieces
Category #3: Content
While planning projects map out organizational principles or a course of action, and sales pieces promote a specific cause, service, or product, a content project’s main function is to provide information.
The public is hungry for information content. Today’s average reader has easy access to information through the media, the internet, and (dare I say it) even the library. Thanks to plenty of simple tools, small businesses and nonprofits can provide a good portion of that content, whether as publishers (your website, blog, social media sites) or as contributors (articles and webinars, for instance.) In doing so, you meet the reader’s need. Producing quality content sets you up as an expert in your field. Further, content pre-sells and re-sells the reader. By providing excellent content, you educate him and show him the need for your goods and services.
Effective content copywriting is well-written, helpful, reliable, well-organized, and interesting.
Types of Content Projects
About the author: Kathy Widenhouse
Kathy Widenhouse is a freelance Christian writer. She produces content and copywriting for faith-based organizations and nonprofits.