July 18, 2022
Everything Isn’t Copy
Creative Director Liz Giuggio reminds us there’s a difference between copywriting and content writing and how to decide which you need.
With all respect to St. Ephron…
In advertising and marketing, everything is not copy, but everything is content, including copy. And it gets worse: not all copy is written by a copywriter. Sometimes, it takes a content writer. I know. It may seem confusing, but if you know what questions to ask, figuring out which writer your project needs is as easy as store-bought pie.
It’s all about intent.
When you work on as many large-scale, content-rich sites as we do at Genuine, you might think the big difference between copywriting and content writing is volume. It’s true that copy tends to come in lines and blurbs, while content tends to be long-form and multi-page. However, the biggest difference between copywriting and content writing is intent.
“Copy sells. Content tells.”
For a thrilling moment I thought I made that up, but a quick search tells me many people have thought that. Bummed as I am, I can’t beat it. Copywriting sells people on a brand, idea or action, while content writing delivers information in the voice of a brand. Copy is intended to drive people to a specific action, content is intended to educate and inform. Copy is persuasion. Content is information.
To determine the writer you need, consider the medium, audience, and project goals. Below we’ve included an easy (but not exhaustive) guide to help you make the call.
You can also just call us.
You want a copywriter when:
- You’re talking to consumers or non-experts in the voice of the brand
- You have a limited time with your audience
- You’re looking to simplify and sell
- You want emotion
- You need a story
You want a content writer when:
- You’re talking to a niche audience or subject-matter experts
- Your audience is here to learn, and they have a little more time
- You’re looking to establish thought leadership, prove industry expertise or increase credibility
- You want to validate
- You need proof: backup, facts, research
Either way, you want a writer.
Both copywriting and content writing are creative art forms that must be written well and in the voice of a brand by someone who loves to write. But they’re written differently, and often by creatives with different skill sets. Copywriters tend to come from advertising, work in partnership with other creatives, write in short form, and be generalists who use storytelling to connect and persuade. Content writers tend to come from marketing or industry-specific backgrounds, work independently, write in long form, and be good researchers who use subject-matter expertise to establish credibility.
You may need both, or just one or the other, but you always need a writer. And I’m not just saying that because I want to write for you. I’m saying it because the difference between a product and a brand is a story (copy’s job), and the difference between a transaction and a relationship is about establishing trust (content’s job), and I want the best for you (my job).
P.S. Whether you’re looking for a copywriter or a content writer, we would love to help. Get in touch.