Good copywriter may help a client feel refreshed – interview with Philippa Davies

How to find a good copywriter for a project? What is the role of conflict in copywriting? And why immersing into the client’s world pays off? About copywriting with Philippa Davies – published writer, inspiring teacher, and psychologist.


Authors of various marketing reports and articles highlight the importance of conversion and ROI in all forms of marketing communications. How can marketers and business owners evaluate conversion in copywriting?


This needs to be measurement agreed with the client I think. Indeed, the more you know as copywriter about where the client wants a return the better. And you may have to have a direct conversation with them about how realistic or otherwise they are being…


Tendencies to protect yourself from here are: too much emphasis on a short-term return; the client not knowing how or what to measure (!) – so you may need to factor this education in to your fee; a lack of understanding that all copywriting is to some degree an experiment, and that you can quickly tweak aspects like headlines, if they are not working for you.


All copywriters can benefit from knowing these experts:


How do you think clients (marketers, business owners) regard writing? As an opportunity for brand communication or as a nuisance?


Well, it’s going to depend. These days writing online like photography and appearing on camera is something many of us do, regardless of whether we’ve done any study or had any experience. We learn in public (or not!) which I quite enjoy…


This is thought to be an old-fashioned idea by some, but I think a lot of people overlook the useful thinking involved in coming up with a USP, that is evergreen and distinguishes you from everyone else. Once you’ve got that, brand communication is much easier, it’s the backbone of everything you create.


How would you advise them to search for a writer for a project?


Ask around for recommendations, look on LinkedIn, seek out copywriters online and look at their portfolios. There are increasing numbers of sites now where you can source freelance writers, but quality can vary hugely. If you see someone’s copywriting that you really admire, you can always contact the client and ask if they’d be so kind as to refer you… It’s also worth remembering that a good freelance copywriter called directly may be much better value for money than one sourced through a digital agency.


What kind of questions should they expect from a writer?


All the questions necessary for the writer to get as full a picture of brief, and operating environment as possible. Things like Powerpoint presentations, an archive of the business and lurking in the cafe or favored watering hole, can all help too…


Good stories need serious conflicts. Does it apply to business, persuasive writing?


Well, they say that all drama is conflict, so there does need to be some to keep people reading. The most pressing conflict is likely to be what frustrates, plagues or irritates the business customer/ client and how is the business helping with this…


Lately, I came across an opinion that copywriting has nothing to do with creativity and passion for writing. Would you agree?


Goodness, I feel sad for the copywriter who feels that! You can help your clients see their businesses in a more creative light – through discussing metaphors, customer fantasies, hopes and fears, and the type of words their customers will respond to. A good copywriter may help a client feel refreshed and revitalized towards their customers, through creative takes and a passion to nail the message… But maybe I’m a hopeless romantic.


Storytelling – a keyword in marketing today. Will it work in every industry? Would you advise to incorporate it into every communication strategy?


Yes, it absolutely will work in any industry, as it is the basis of any chronological account and none of us is operating outside time, currently (though Elon Musk is probably working on it). Storytelling can often work very well alongside explanation – of your offer, how you work, what customers will get – and testimonials, proof that you offer value that works.


Philippa, you managed to distinguish 49 forms of professional writing. In your experience did you find a particular type of writing that worked for one business sector, but it didn’t do the trick for another?


Now I’m not sure if writing for a podcast, for example, might work for a tiler or plumber but having said that a comedy podcast about the customers and problems they encounter could work a treat. So you don’t know until you’ve tried it!


Is there an industry that hasn’t trusted the content writing yet?


Not that I’m aware of, and indeed some of the trailblazers in content writing have been maybe unexpected, like General Electric for instance. Certainly not a fluffy business.


Tech companies and start-ups are on a roll. What kind of writing do they need to include in their brand communication?


I favor forensic attention at the outset to how they communicate what they do to the people they want to reach. Am fortunate to have worked alongside someone whose start-up is scaling up rapidly: he has spent months going along to prospective customers’ conferences and immersing himself generally in the world of his customers, so he speaks their language completely. This is truly starting to pay off now – and he’s able to commission writing that is spot-on for his purpose.


The basics needed will include web copy, brochure copy, slide deck, press release, social media posts, video scripts, interviews with business owners, podcast maybe – and those three pillars I mentioned earlier: the explanation, story, and testimonials.


Thank you very much, Philippa.


Philippa Davies is a writer and business psychologist who’s published 12 non-fiction books, and written apps, a novel and for tv and radio. With a most practical and lighthearted approach, she teaches on Udemy and the Economist’s platform,
She’s also web editor at FYI Network, a non-profit of six online community noticeboards in Wales. Philippa lives on a farm and when not working she likes to walk her dog and drink gin. But not at the same time.

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