In the days of Mad Men, advertising clients wouldn’t dream of writing their own copy. Advertising was about big ideas, big concepts, and crafting that story was left to the professionals.
In the digital age, all that has changed. With rare exceptions, “big idea” marketing is regarded as a quaint anachronism, especially in the B2B world. Who has the time, anyway? Marketing is now more about the right data. Marketers care more about segmentation than tag lines. Copy has become an afterthought.
What’s more, today’s dominant advertising channels – banners, text ads, emails – don’t hold the same mystery that print ads did in their day. The attitude of many marketers towards creative, and copywriting in particular, seems to be “how difficult can it be?”
Well, Mr. Marketer, it can be plenty difficult. And I say that not only because I work for a marketing agency, but because I see a steady stream of incredibly bad emails and other online creative every day, from companies that should know better.
Bad copy is your campaign’s weakest link. It matters not one iota how automated, predictive, or account-based your campaign is if all that technology is delivering a message that (sorry – need to be honest here) stinks.
“But wait,” you say. “Don’t I know my product better than some agency copywriter?”
Sure you do. And Don Draper didn’t know Lucky Strikes as well as his client, either. But what he did know was how to craft a story that tapped into the reader’s emotions and fears and aspirations. The guy could write copy.
Even if you have a copywriter on staff, a good writer, there’s another key reason why you should leave that writing to an outside firm. Creative developed in-house almost inevitably becomes stale and insular. It reflects “how we’ve always written copy.” An outside firm brings fresh thinking, free of internal politics or historical baggage. The fact that they know the product that much less may even be a good thing. It means that they’re not going to be as bogged down in features and brochure-speak. Plus, because your agency is working with dozens of other companies like yours, they know what works (and, conversely, what doesn’t.)
Good copywriting may not be as sexy, may not grab the headlines as much as the latest marketing technology. Or the latest theory on the buyer’s journey. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less critical to the success of your campaigns. Copywriting can be your weakest link, or your secret weapon.
My advice: you’re better off leaving that weapon to professionals who know how to use it.