While copywriting isn’t exactly a mainstream skill set just yet, it’s not a secret either.
Most business owners have a general understanding of what it is.
That said, over the decade I’ve been a copywriter, I’ve noticed there are some lingering misconceptions about copywriting that remain prevalent among business owners, marketers, and even copywriters themselves.
In today’s episode, we’re going to dig into the three most common misconceptions that people have about copywriting.
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While copywriting may not be mainstream enough for the average person on the street to know what it is, it’s not exactly a hidden skillset either.
If you talk to most business owners or marketers today, they’re going to understand what copywriting is (as a general rule).
That said, over the decade I’ve been in this business, I’ve noticed that there are some lingering misconceptions about copywriting that remain prevalent among business owners, marketers, and even copywriters themselves.
And so in today’s episode, we’re going to dig into the three most common misconceptions that people have about copywriting.
Today’s episode is sponsored by CopyAI, a toolkit that helps writers, marketers, and freelancers skip writer’s block completely and quickly create first draft copy for themselves and their clients.
If you head on over to https://www.copy.ai/jacob, you can get a 30-day free trial and try it out for yourself.
So let’s dive straight into the three most common misconceptions people have about copywriting.
Misconception #1: Copywriting Is What Sells Things
Misconception number one is the idea that copywriting is what sells things.
In reality, copywriting does not sell things. Product-market fit is what sells things.
And this makes sense when you think about it.
Think back to the last thing you purchased online. Why did you buy it?
The answer to that is that you wanted it.
You saw something that you wanted or needed.
It matched a desire that you had, it provided a benefit you wanted, it helped you solve a problem you had been looking to solve…
Whatever the reason, it matched something that you wanted and you made the purchase.
Now the marketing helped put it in front of you.
The messaging and the copywriting helped you understand that this was what you were looking for.
Maybe the messaging even pushed you that last step from “Hey, I’d really like this” to “I’m buying this now”.
But at the end of the day, the reason you purchased that thing was because it matched something you already wanted.
And this is what’s known as product-market fit.
It means that there is a group of customers out in the market who want and are ready to pay for the thing that is being offered, whether that’s a product or a service.
The misconception here is that with good enough copywriting, you can sell things to people that they don’t want.
And this simply isn’t true.
If you could legitimately sell things to people that they had no interest in, no desire for, you would never need to work for a business.
All the companies in the world would be owned by the best copywriters.
They would simply go grab any random product that no one gives a crap about and start selling it to people by the millions.
Why doesn’t this happen?
Because the idea that people can be persuaded into buying something they don’t want with good enough messaging is false.
So if copywriting isn’t what sells things, what is the purpose of copywriting?
This leads us to misconception number two, which is…
Misconception #2: The Goal of Copywriting is Persuasion
that the goal of copywriting is persuasion.
Great copywriting incorporates persuasive elements.
Since product-market fit is ultimately what sells things, our goal is to help readers understand that this is exactly what they’ve been looking for.
This is exactly what they’ve been wanting.
This is being offered by a reputable or trustworthy brand.
This is going to have the reliability they’re looking for.
This is going to provide a better experience than maybe the last time they bought something hoping to solve this same problem and it turned out unsuccessful.
We want to make it really, really clear that this thing (this product or service) is what the reader wants.
Not because we are inserting that desire into them, but because that desire is already there. And we’re just making it really clear that the product or service is matching that existing desire.
If we can make that fit really clear to the reader, then the product or service is going to sell.
Anything extra we can do in terms of persuasion, urgency, utilizing psychological techniques can help move the needle a bit. But it’s only going to be a fraction of movement compared to the bigger job we’re doing in making that product-market fit super clear.
where people get into trouble is believing that psychology and persuasion are going to allow them to make up a gap that’s not being filled by their product-market fit.
Every delusional business owner out there who’s selling a product no one wants thinks that if they could just get the right copywriter, if they could just work with talented enough marketers, then those people could sell their crap to people who don’t want it.
And it’s not true.
On the flip side, even some businesses that have found product-market fit can get so invested in trying to create this persuasive narrative that they sacrifice clarity and just end up confusing readers who would otherwise be ready to purchase their product if they had just made the messaging really clear.
So whether you’re a freelance copywriter or an entrepreneur, always remember:
clarity first, persuasion second.
And wrapping things up with number three…
Misconception #3: Copywriting Can Be Evaluated On Its Own
copywriting cannot be evaluated on its own.
The effectiveness of any given piece of copywriting is always contextual.
It always depends on where that copywriting fits into the customer journey, what people are reading before they see that piece of copy and what we want them to do after reading that piece of copy.
What might make one piece of copywriting amazing as an ad could also make it completely useless as a mid-funnel landing page, or as copywriting on a checkout page.
And that’s why any time you approach a piece of copywriting, the first thing you should be asking is where does this fit into the customer journey?
What do we want to happen here?
What is the preceding messaging?
What is the messaging that’s going to come after?
And just fully understanding all the variables that are going to affect the performance of that specific content asset or that specific piece of copywriting.
And while, yes, there are best practices (there are things we can look at and potentially spot as potential problems when we look at a piece of copy)…
Ultimately, you’re never going to understand the effectiveness of any piece of copy without understanding its context. And you shouldn’t even try.
And on the flip side, you should never be writing copy solely focused on the individual page. You want to always be thinking about where it fits into the customer journey and using that as your guideline for writing the best messaging you can.
So, in review, the three misconceptions that people tend to have about copywriting…
Number one: copywriting doesn’t sell things. Product-market fit is what sells things. And if you’re a freelance copywriter, you want to be looking to work with products and services and businesses that have found their product-market fit.
It’s going to be a much less frustrating journey to work on those types of companies then to work on unproven businesses that may be selling something nobody wants.
Number two: persuasion is not the point of copywriting. Clarity is the first and most important goal of copywriting. And anything you can do beyond that in terms of persuasive techniques, creating urgency, utilizing psychology in your narrative it’s all the cherry on top. It’s extra.
It can enhance the results, but only if you’ve mastered clarity first.
Number three: copywriting cannot be evaluated in isolation. It’s always contextual.
And understanding the context of any piece of copy that you evaluate or write is going to be critical for you to do a good job.
So I hope that was helpful. And I’ll catch you in the next episode.
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I hope this was helpful, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Do you agree? Do you disagree with the fierce heat of a thousand suns?
Let me know in the comments below.
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