Invisible Copy – Why Your Copy Should Have a Small Ego

Short version

Good copy doesn’t attract attention to itself – it attracts attention to your products and services.

Long version

Occasionally clients expect copy to have some ‘wow’ factor. Perhaps they were expecting poetic, glorious prose. Or perhaps they were expecting copy that their clients would remark upon. Or perhaps they just expected something more sensational.

In most cases, for most organisations, copy should not draw attention to itself. Good copy does not stand out. It draws attention to your organisation, your products and your services. The best copy is like a ninja – it moves silently and people read it without even realising that they’re reading something.

So when you employ a copywriter, or write copy yourself, don’t aim for copy that is loud or spectacular. Aim for copy that communicates clear messages, sinking into the background and focussing attention on you and your offer.

Why you should involve marketing in all your business decisions

I often get drafted in to write copy for projects that are nearing completion. Copy (supposedly) is the icing on many a corporate cake. I waltz in with a pen, release my prodigious vocabulary, then naff off. And often, that approach is just fine. But, to paraphrase NatWest adverts, there is a better way…

Everything in business should be run past a copywriter

I once worked for a company that designed and produced a large number of original products. The product development team was highly creative and highly effective, but on occasions the sales team would despair because unsellable products were produced.

The sales team knew, from their close relationships to their buyers, what would sell and what would not.

Eventually, the sales team were brought in to development meetings. From then on, product development was focused on products that would have a future.

It’s always a good idea to think about the details of selling a product before you make it. If a copywriter can write about your product, it has a better chance of success. Planning the marketing of a product or service will often suggest variations or alternatives to the original product.

SEO and product development

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) also plays an interesting role in modern product development. Performing a thorough keyword analysis often suggests under-exploited niches, which in turn may affect the products and services a company offers.

So if you know a friendly copywriter, give them a call now. (My number is 07790 748 243.) A copywriter or marketing professional may provide insights that open up profitable new markets.

Shame about the name

Product naming is another area that copywriters can help with. Copywriters will be thinking about products on shelves, words on websites, and what those things will mean to the public. Don’t name a product without carefully considering the details of selling it. Even better, ask someone from outside your company for a second opinion.

Is bad copy to blame for your website’s high bounce rate?


If your copy is a load of balls your bounce rate* will be sky-high. Bad copy can affect your bounce rate in a number of ways:

  1. Your visitors may have been expecting something different to what you are offering. Unclear copy can attract the wrong kind of visitor.
  2. Poor grammar or spelling tells people that you’re lazy and stupid. Correct your copy and people might stick around.
  3. Copy that doesn’t offer clear benefits will not persuade customers to buy or read on. Make your selling proposition obvious and stress your offering’s benefits.
  4. Verbose copy bores visitors. If your visitors get bored they may bounce off to a competitor who doesn’t waffle.

Copywriters understand the reasons why web users bounce off websites. If your website is suffering from a high bounce rate ask a copywriter to assess your site for flaws.

Identify weak spots and change them. Changing a website is simple so this process is quick and cheap.

Don’t let your copy let you down!

*Bounce rate = the rate at which people “bounce” away from your website. A bounce occurs when a visitor leaves your website without visiting any other pages. It’s a clear sign that they didn’t want to be there in the first place or don’t like something about your site.

(Picture courtesy of Tom Barnett)

Gaining Trust on the Web

Don’t hide behind your website. Too many businesses barricade themselves behind a chunky website, giving visitors no easy way to get in touch.

What are they afraid of?

Whenever I struggle to find a telephone number, postal address or email address on a website, I immediately begin to think the owners have something to hide.

If your business has great products and efficient customer services, you should have no reason to deny your users the opportunity to contact you.

When writing copy for the web, I always advise clients to be bold in displaying contact details. It’s a great way to gain the trust of your visitors.

Seth Godin’s Admirable Approach to Marketing

“If you buy my product but don’t read the instructions, that’s not your fault, it’s mine.
If you read a blog post and misinterpret what I said, that’s my choice, not your error.”

– from Seth Godin’s recent blog post – The posture of a communicator.

I like Seth’s approach to marketing. He doesn’t go looking for chances to blame a consumer for getting something wrong.

Not all marketers are as generous as Seth.

I’ve heard the opposite sentiment expressed by prominent web marketers, and it surprises me.

The “if the customer screws it up then it’s their problem” attitude is still prevalent among marketers.

Copywriters play a key part in taking a business message and passing it on (correctly) to the customer. One of the challenges of writing copy is making a message clear, concise and understandable by all.

What Makes a Great Copywriter?

“What makes a good copywriter?”

This was one of the questions I was asked yesterday by Naomi Knight. She was interviewing me as part of a project for her digital media course.

My answer?

  • Curiosity
  • Business brain
  • Creativity

My rationale?

Curiosity Made the Copywriter

While copywriters can get away with being just an average writer, they really need to have a head that’s stuffed full of information. A natural curiosity about our world tends to leave a person with just such a stuffed head.

All those seemingly pointless facts come in handy when you’re writing copy about something weird.

Business Brain

Copywriters are business people, not artists. Writing copy is about selling products, persuading people and delivering messages effectively. It is not about beautiful prose and winning awards.

To write copy well you need to understand your purpose. David Ogilvy’s On Advertising is a great book about advertising that hammers home this point.


Foster creativity. If you want your brain to be creative, you have to feed it first. In my experience, ideas happen because there is something in your mind that leads you to another, brand new, thought.

Without that stock of knowledge or inspiration, you may find it hard to be brilliant.

And the rest…

Copywriters require a great many other skills to write great copy, but I think these three are the most essential. If you’re a copywriter or if you’ve worked with copywriters, please let me know what you consider to be classic copywriter traits (good or bad!).

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