How a Copywriter Learns to Write and Sound Like You
Hiring a copywriter to do work for you can be a little intimidating. Especially if you’re new to hiring and don’t want to be “taken advantage” of. Does this sound like what you’re thinking:
Do I really need a copywriter or can my virtual assistant do this for me?
I’m not sure how much to pay for things like writing blogs, SEO, email marketing, etc.
Will I be completely hands off?
How will they learn to sound like me?
Will they actually sound like me in the writing?
Will I have to go in and edit everything again after it’s completed?
A great copywriter takes the time to not only do the research on the offer, competition, and customers, they’ll also take the time to learn how you sound when you’re writing and speaking. They may have some tools in their kit on how they do this but, in general, the best way to do this is to understand your product/service, mission & values, determine and discover your brand personality, and your brand voice. They may probably conduct a copy chat or debrief to learn your tone of voice. So what’s all this mean and what do you need to know before doing your debrief? Well, let’s dig in!
Understanding your product/service and mission and values.
A great copywriter takes the time to truly understand your product/service and your mission, your brand story, your unique positioning, and brand values.
A mission statement tells your audience WHY you exist, WHAT you want to accomplish, and HOW you plan to get there. It’s one of the strongest messages you can communicate, because it sets the intention behind your brand. Mission statements should also convey your purpose in a way that intrigues, inspires, and motivates both your customers and the people within your organization.
For example, Columbia Sportswear, the world-famous outdoor clothing company describes their mission as “we’re more than just a leader in the global active lifestyle apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment industry. We connect active people with their passions.”
Different from a mission statement but important in how well your service will sell is creating and refining your unique selling proposition. A unique selling proposition or USP is a statement that succinctly embodies what differentiates your brand from your competitors. It needs to promise a benefit or feature that others can’t or don’t offer.¹
For example, Crunchi®, my new favorite makeup brand, often uses the phrase “Smart. Conscious. Beautiful.” And it perfectly sums up what their brand is all about. Crunchi® makes high-performance clean beauty & skincare that is toxin-free and sustainably packaged. It’s perfect for those who are health and environment conscious but don’t want to sacrifice their beauty or make up.
Once you’ve got a good idea of your unique positioning, mission statement, and brand story — it’s time to strip them down to your core values.
Your values represent what your brand stands for, which is also what YOU, the person or team behind the business, stand for.
Your brand values and mission are the governing principles behind every piece of copy that gets written, every service that’s created and every decision that’s made.
For example, the Emmy award-winning media entrepreneur and go-to coach to thousands of soul-centered entrepreneurs, Natalie Macneil holds firm to her values of: rituals over habits, aliveneness over automation, and embodiment over mindset.
Being able to articulate these values in a way that’s meaningful to both you and your audience will help form a heartfelt connection with your audience and allow them to decide if they can align with you.
Discovering, determining, and defining your brand voice and brand personality.
First, let’s define the difference between a brand voice and a brand personality. Your brand personality is about the real qualities, expressions, and emotions it embodies the most. Yes, you need to give your brand HUMAN characteristics. Identifying your brand personality will play a huge role in determining the tone, feel and flow of your copywriting and messaging.
Once these personality traits are defined, they are manufactured into brand voice. Your brand voice is made up of 3 major components: the vocabulary, tone and rhythm of your writing.
How to determine your brand personality
To think about your brand personality, you’ll want to determine:
Is your brand conversational and playful? Loud and assertive? Sensual and intuitive?
Where does your brand personality sit between these extremes.
Just like a person, your brand might have different voices for different audiences but you they should always be guided by those high level brand personality traits. Consider how the voice might change in different circumstances such as the first time you communicate with a client versus how you talk to the most active members of your social media communities.
Another part of Brand personality is clearly defining the Brand’s Phraseology, or the common phrases, sayings, words, sign offs or slang that are often used in marketing, content and customer communication without much thought.2 For instance — I tend to use “Hey Guys” a lot when opening up in video. I also say “awesome” and “totally” too, even in my writing.
Why should you bother defining a brand personality?
A brand is a living entity and you need to think of it as such. Your brand communicates what you stand for, and makes you unique. It helps your target customers distinguish you from your competitors; and the connection is much more emotional than you might think.3
Defining a brand personality and putting it down on paper will help other copywriters who may work for you stay consistent in their messaging. It will help your team appear more cohesive in their branding and messaging if everyone is on the same page.
So, then, what's a brand voice?
Brand voice is just one part of the brand personality but it is the defining point in how your message is put together and the emotion behind it.
Your vocabulary: The words you use. Is your vocabulary sophisticated or simple? Simply put, do you use big words or little words?
Your tone: This is the air of authority behind your words. Are you speaking AT your audience or TO them? Are you more of the friendly neighbor next door type of vibe or the authoritative voice of a professor?
Your rhythm: This is how long or how short your paragraphs and sentences are. How quickly is your reader moved along the page?
If all of this sounds overwhelming and you’re thinking “well how do I go about getting this information to the copywriter? Sounds like more unneeded work!”.
To put it lightly, this is part of the copywriter’s job. They’re not just a wordsmith. They’re not just writing words on paper for you. They’re making your brand cohesive across anywhere all channels. They’re helping you remain cohesive in your messaging AND convincing your readers to take action.
How exactly does a copywriter learn to write and sound like you?
In my brand, we call it a copy chat. This “copy chat” can take on many different names and forms – just all depends on the copywriter. It’s baked into their copywriting services. It’s a part of their services. Sometimes, it’s the only service they offer.
What exactly is a "Copy Chat"?
During a copychat or debrief, I’m listening to you talk. I have some questions that may help guide the conversation but really I’m using this information to get a good sense of how you speak and the words you say.
As well as listening to what you say, I’m also listening out for how you say it.
These are some questions I like to ask and things I listen for:
1. What adjectives do you use over and over again?
For me, it’s “awesome” and “amazing”. Use these sparingly in your writing as adjectives do tend to make written words sound more boring than needed.
2. How do you refer to people in general?
“Guys” and “You” tend to roll off my tongue when referring to the masses. (Although should I not be using “guys”? And if you take offense to me calling you “guys” even though you may not be one, well then you’re probably not my people.) That’s exactly how determining your own brand voice and personality will help to subtly qualify your readers.
3. Do you use contractions?
Almost everyone I know uses contractions. If you don’t you may be some kind of robot – wait, I think even robots use contractions now.
4. How do you sign off emails?
I’ve used “warm regards” for a long time. I remember who I took it from too. This girl that was my supervisor in the first luxury hotel I worked at. I thought it sounded eloquent. But now, I feel like it’s a little too eloquent. So I’ve shortened it to “warmly”. How do you sign off your emails?
5. Do you swear and if yes, how often and with who?
I do swear in real life, however I am trying to mitigate that as much as possible – especially when you have toddlers hovering your ankles. And I don’t like seeing it in my writing. Also, my clients are most likely going to be reading my writing and I would never swear at them, so why put it in writing? Most of the time, if I swear it comes out more as an adjective for lack of a better word. So I try my best to do the work of finding a better word. A thesaurus is pretty easy to reach with your fingertips.
Also in this copy chat, I’m looking to determine who my client’s ideal client is. Do they have a good handle on it? I take them through a series of questions that helps them really narrow down on this in a way that’s more than just basic demographics.
Want to experience one of these for yourself?
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