What is copywriting?

There are as many definitions to copywriting as there are copywriters in this world. In a strict sense, copywriting is the act of writing advertising and other promotional materials (like headlines, sales letters, videos, direct mailers, brochures and websites).

While this definition is correct, it is also incomplete… so let’s take another shot.

The most poetic definition of copywriting I’ve come across, was written by Bruce Bendinger – one of my favorite ad copywriters of our time. In his book “The Copy Workshop Workbook”, Bruce shares this remarkable gem…

What an exquisite way to define our craft!

What I like most about it, is that Bruce took extra care to single out the most important aspect of copywriting: salesmanship. Unfortunately, too many copywriters just don’t understand what he is referring to with that term… So for the sake of clarity, let me try to come up with a more technical and complete, albeit less poetic definition.

A copywriting definition that works

Copywriting is the art and science of writing to promote a product, a business, a person or an idea. And carefully selecting, editing, weaving and constructing those words in a way that they’ll persuade the reader into taking a specific and measurable action.

As you can see, the term “salesmanship” is not only referring to the final sale of the product. The end goal of copywriting is not always to sell the product in a single blow, but to persuade the reader into taking a specific action. And this “action” can be subscribing to a newsletter, calling the phone number on screen, clicking a link, sending an e-mail to their friends, etc. Any of those actions will be used, in turn, to advance the sale further.

However, in order to write effective copywriting, the copywriter has to don quite a few different hats: The researcher, the sleuth, the artist, the psychologist, the scientist and more. But hey, that’s a topic for an entirely new article. I’ve got a lot to share on the subject, so be sure to join the weekly roundup list so you don’t miss any updates.

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