Copywriting, Content Development and Strategies

by on December 15, 2010

Shocking... really

Copywriting and content development are often used interchangeably, as if they mean the same thing. Gasping in horror while I write this- however, although they’re both part of a package, they deal with separate issues. Granted, if you are not in the industry then you may very well not know the difference. So pull up a chair and let me break it down for you.

Copywriting vs. Content Development

The biggest difference between content development and copywriting is the level at which they’re used in a strategy.

Content development deals with the strategy of a set of documents:

  • Blog series
  • Newsletter series
  • Article series

With content development, you decide what information you’re going to share for a particular document set. In addition, you decide how that information will come, and how it will be linked together if the documents will be posted on several sites.

Copywriting deals with the tone and strategy of a single document:

  • One blog
  • One newsletter
  • One article

With copywriting, you decide how you’ll write each document of the set. What tone will you use? How will you lay out the information (i.e. with subheadings, bullets, etc).

Gathering Essential Knowledge

What content development and copywriting have in common is the need to gather two essential pieces knowledge:

Understanding of the business…

The content developer and copywriter both have to understand the business they’re working for. If you’re developing strategies for your own business, this may sound easy. It isn’t. You may find yourself having to think a lot more deeply about your business than you ever have before:

  • What are your company beliefs? Not your beliefs, per se, but beliefs you want your company to stand for.
  • What is the background of your company? Where did it come from? What has it done to be considered an authority in the business (this could be the company or you, if you’re the face of your company)?
  • What products/services do you offer?
  • What image do you want to portray? What do you want your brand to stand for?

All of this is important. What image and feeling your company invokes becomes your brand.

Understanding of the consumer…

You also have to understand your consumer. This is your target market, whether you deal with B2B or B2C. Again, once you start to really dig into the information, you may find out a lot more about your audience than you knew:

  • What are your consumer’s long-term goals?
  • What reason do they have for buying your product/services?
  • What problems will your product/services solve?
  • What pain can your company address?

Both of these essential pieces of knowledge go into developing strong copywriting skills, as well as strong content development strategies.

Developing Strong Copy Strategies on Both Levels

Whether you’re the copywriter or the content developer, you need to follow these six points for an excellent strategy:

  1. Listen to the consumer – Gather information from the horse’s mouth. Read blog comments about similar products. Read forum and social media postings. Take polls and use other forms of engagement to get a real understanding of how the consumer sees products/services like yours.
  2. Stay focused on the consumer – Sure, sure, talk about yourself. However, when you do, talk about how you can help them. They don’t need to know how wonderful you are. They’ll find out how wonderful you are when they use your services or products.
  3. Ask the right questions – which lead to great things like helpful answers, better information to complete the buying process and a successful sale.
  4. Build strong buyer/seller relationships
  5. Keep relationships active and growing
  6. Maintain two-way conversations

Your Motivation

Sometimes, as a business owner, you need to have some huge motivation to put a lot of time and effort into something. Every bit of time and money is precious. Here’s your motivation:

  1. It costs more to attract and sell a new customer than it does to retain one you already have
  2. More money is spent on various marketing techniques if content strategy/copywriting is weak

Strong content development and copywriting strategies help define your company and brand as the company/brand to trust. Every strategy should have an underlying goal of developing trust in your products/services and brand.

Build a recognized, trust brand. Build a strong foundation. With strong strategies, you essentially create a foundation of loyal, growing, buying customers.



{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Klaus Junginger March 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Due to the chaotic (in the good sense) of one of our news portals (a B2C), articles published there are much more a copywriting process than a content creation, which happens in another portal of ours ( B2B).

Nice reading such a post – real content.

K

Reply

Tihomir Petrov December 22, 2010 at 12:17 am

I also think that we have to listen very carefully our customers or visitors because when we know what their concerns and beliefs are we could react better and in more appropriate way.

Reply

Gabriella December 22, 2010 at 4:45 am

Hey Timhomir, exactamundo. The question is how do you listen to them? There are a few tools out there that can help, of course social networks are the easiest to get the conversation going. What we have also found to be very helpful is taking polls with specific questions.

Reply

John December 15, 2010 at 10:04 am

Gabriella – I was one of those people that thought content development and copywriting meant the same thing.

Thanks for breaking down the difference between the two for me and I will keep your six tips for excellent copy strategy in mind. I

agree, your content and copywriting strategy has to be strong if you want to not save money, but also build a good foundation of loyal customers.

Reply

Gabriella December 15, 2010 at 2:37 pm

John thanks for the kudos…Sometimes the ROI is not fast enough or tangible especially when time is spent on strategy. It’s only once you start uploading the content and after the campaign that you can see great results that last. Yes, loyal customers that have grown with your “words” some call it your brand etc. Ultimately, when you think about it it’s how you communicate on the Internet.

Reply

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