Do you need a creative copywriter?

Written by Meghan Downs

Do you need a creative copywriter?

People often wrongfully depict the reality of being a copywriter. It’s not all about creative, wacky ideas being thrown around a boardroom (like in Mad Men). Often it’s the least creative message that copywriters use that works best. 

But I’ve also heard people who argue that copywriters do not need to be creative at all due to the data-driven nature of it. I disagree. In this blog post, I explore how important creativity is in copywriting (as a self-proclaimed creative copywriter).

Are you looking for a creative copywriter?

Getting the balance between creativity and clarity in your copy

I believe that to be a successful copywriter, you need to know when to be plain and simple, and when to add creative flair. Sure, copywriting is all about communicating a clear message. But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring, too! 

As a creative person myself, I can’t speak for everyone. To me, an important aspect of copywriting is idea generation. Do creative people find idea generation easier? I think so…

But being creative is not ALWAYS the answer, as David Ogilvy famously said:

“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”

The trick is to have original thoughts and turn them into ideas that are easily digested for your intended audience. That takes a form of creativity that isn’t loud or garish but that subtly guides you.

 

The definition of creativity 

“The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness”  – source Oxford languages

A few months ago, I attended a Marketing Meetup webinar with Beth Collier. What she said about creativity hits the nail on the head. Beth said to be creative, you should ​​“Start with a clean slate instead of attaching to someone else’s solution”.

Therefore, when it comes to writing any persuasive and informative copy, you should start with a new angle and conduct your own research. Set yourself apart from the competition by thinking about solving your customer’s problem in a way that’s not been done before. 

But how do you convey this message? A creative copywriter should be able to research and come up with original ideas in a new way, not just copying your competitor’s ideas. 

Where I see the difference is people assume copywriting is like creative writing. Although there’s some overlap, it’s another world. 

Creative writing will engage the reader in what they are reading, often getting lost in another world. But copywriting will engage the reader in a way that encourages them to take action, usually in a structured way. 

A framework for creative copywriting

There are many well-known copywriting formulas and tricks out there, mainly focussing on human behavioural psychology for data. Using these frameworks can help to come up with creative ideas. Beth Collier also discussed a framework for creativity in her live webinar, ARC. 

A – Absorb

R – Reflect

C – Create 

This perfectly describes the start of any new project and compliments copywriting formulas. Here’s how my workflow looks in this method:

In the Absorb phase, you look at all the information you have. Ask lots of questions, look at everything provided by the client, and research their audience. It helps to look at competitors for a potential gap analysis and to see how you can stand out. What are your customer pain points? Put yourself in their shoes. Empathy is a great trait for this section. 

In the Reflect stage, you will think about how to use the information you have gathered. How can you relate this to the product/service and the target audience in a new way? What new and original angles can you discover? 

Then you are prepared and ready to Create. The writing never starts until you’ve done the groundwork. After the research and idea generation, I use your tried and tested formulas and behavioural science knowledge to create compelling copy that’s tailored to the reader. 

Looking for inspiration to write better copy?

Download the FREE guide here – 5 easy ways to add personality to your website.

Creative copywriters are the best problem-solvers 

From my experience, any person who goes into copywriting, content writing, and marketing, in general, loves solving problems and communicating the answer in the best way. 

Creative problem-solving is something I want in any task I do. I love an element of the unknown that I have to help solve and find a solution for… Testing new ideas, hoping they work but never really knowing until you’ve tried. This process then gives you data that you can apply to all future projects. 

That’s what copywriters and marketers are all about. It’s a lot of trial and error, as you can write the most technically perfect piece but that doesn’t mean it’ll sell. 

Knowing when to not be over-creative is a skill in itself. The most successful copy is simple, sleek, and understated. Getting there isn’t always so simple, though. 

 

How to assemble good copy as a creative copywriter

As Eugene Schwartz said about copywriting – 

“Copy is not written. Copy is assembled. You do not write copy, you assemble it. You are working with a series of building blocks, you are putting the building blocks together, and then you are putting them in certain structures, you are building a little city of desire for your person to come and live in.”

When I work on a piece of copy, I relate to this quote. It’s about piecing together the information and assembling it in a way that makes sense whilst persuading the reader. 

You add things, and then subtract others – 

  • Key points, facts, and statistics are added. 
  • Personality and tone of voice are added. 
  • Any copy that doesn’t add value is removed. 
  • Jargon is replaced with plain English. 

 

Some people would say this is not creative, and in part, I agree with this aspect of assembling copy. But selecting the key information and thinking about how it all comes together is selective creativity.

You need to put the essential information in first, then add your creative angle and tone of voice characteristics. 

Imagine the board rooms for famous slogans such as Nike’s ‘Just Do It’, McDonald’s ‘I’m lovin’ it’, and Apple’s original slogan ‘think different’. It would have taken so many clever phrases and really creative suggestions to circle back to a simple idea. 

Knowing when to leave behind creative, fun ideas is hard. You see so many companies trying to be clever. When it’s obvious they are trying too hard, it doesn’t work well. 

Take this as an example. Sunglass Shack tried out “Sitting On Faces Since 2001”… safe to say that one backfired for a few reasons. This hilarious fail and more can be seen on Bored Panda (head there for a good laugh).

 

My thoughts on the importance of creativity as a copywriter 

Overall, although the end result of copywriting is often not seen as creative, to get there you have to go through creative and original thinking processes. 

Creativity IS important to copywriting. But so is knowing when to rein it in. 

If you leave behind creativity completely, every company would sound the same and we may as well let the AI bots write the copy for us (that’s a whole new topic for another day)…

Ultimately, ask yourself these simple things – 

  • Will this speak to the audience?
  • By the end, what does the reader want to know, feel, and do? 

Without these, creative or not, it’ll flop.

Do I feel creatively fulfilled when working with clients? Yes. And that’s what is important to me. When you work with me, you are guaranteed to get the right balance between creativity and clarity. 

So if you want to work with a copywriter who thinks creativity IS important, get in touch to start your project. 

Learn effective brand storytelling and copywriting techniques with the ‘craft your message’ newsletter

Helping misunderstood creative business owners to capture their personality, connect with ideal clients, and sell themselves better.