Go to many a creative agency with a view to setting up a sparkling new website and you’ll be given a raft of questions about what you’d like the site to look like, what image you want to project, what bells and whistles you want to give your site the right buzz.
Then you’ll get the question – “and who will provide the content?” A moment passes. You haven’t really given it much thought. “Oh,” you say, “I’ll put something together.” “Great,” says the marketing guru, and that’s the end of that.
You then go back to your office, sit down at your laptop and put something together. Or, if you’re too busy and important, you’ll give it to a junior to do. So long as they can string a sentence together – a rare quality these days – then it’s fine. Isn’t it?
Well, no, not really. You may be lucky and have at your disposal the skills to whip up tight, imaginative, gung-ho copy that grabs your client and practically forces them to part with their money. But, given that you’ve been trained to do something else, it’s unlikely.
So, you pump out something mediocre, do a spell and grammar check and send it off to the agency. If your marketing guru is nice, they’ll give you a few pointers to improve it a bit. But they’re probably too busy to go into any detail and so you’ll end up with something that will make do.
Your clients, bedazzled by the funky graphics and cool videos, will have a good old time looking at your site. But, will they actually buy anything? If they haven’t read anything that’s interesting or clear to them, then I’d say they’ll probably go somewhere else.
This, admittedly, is a very generalised example. Some products and services can be sold by flashy videos and funky graphics alone. But most people over 30 want to know something more. Okay, let’s not be so patronising – a lot of people under 30 want to know something more, too.
A good copywriter, or content writer – or ‘content curator’ as I’ve recently heard us called – will make sure that happens. And when I say ‘good’, I mean someone who will actually take the time to research your business, talk to you about exactly what the customer needs to know and translate that into copy that hooks a reader and keeps them engaged. They’ll do this while infusing the copy with keywords that are Google-friendly and an understanding of how a potential client will navigate your site.
You can, of course, go to one of those McCopy content mills and pay peanuts to have your copy written by someone with one eye on The Jeremy Kyle Show. But you get what you pay for. If you’re happy buying processed meat in a rubbery bap, then chances are you’ll be easily pleased enough to accept the kind of quality content you’ll get from McCopy. Whether your client will be is another matter.
In an ideal world – one where good copywriters rule, of course – the ‘content’ question is the first one that is asked. You then happily source a professional content writer and the other stuff fits around that.
Image is important, by the way. But it should never be at the expense of making written copy the duffed-up and slightly ruffled second cousin. Content should indeed be King. And then you can be sure of getting the real deal – not a ‘meal deal’ – inside and out.