Back in October (2014), the UK Direct Marketing Association (DMA) embarked on a brand-new venture in search of ‘Great British Copywriting’. At the core of the campaign is the assertion that copywriting has changed to such a degree that what is practised today does not resemble what was practised just a few decades ago. It is an assertion that is pretty difficult to argue against.
The DMA produced an intriguing 10-minute video for the campaign, a video that featured two separate roundtable discussions involving one group of older copywriters and another group of their younger counterparts. Both groups were asked identical questions and solicited to respond accordingly. The results were fascinating.
The difference in perspective between the two groups offered very good insight to prove the DMA’s assertion that creative copywriting is truly lacking these days. Below are seven issues raised by the two groups that sum up the state of copywriting in 2015:
1. A Lack of Understanding
The first thing that must be understood is that the evolution, or de-evolution if you prefer, of copywriting is directly linked to the explosion of the Internet age. Online marketing is an entirely different animal from the marketing practised before the Internet became mainstream. Having said that, it is clear there is a lack of understanding as to what good copywriting is.
The older group spoke of copywriting as an art form. By contrast, the younger group recognised that their clients/employers often view copywriting as a necessary obligation. The difference between art and obligation is the difference between creativity and adequacy.
2. Proliferation of Social Media
The proliferation of social media has changed the way companies market themselves. Today it is more about engaging customers through online conversations than trying to get their attention by speaking to them. Social media has also contributed to the shorter attention span of the modern consumer. Creativity is hampered by both.
3. Time versus Quality
Copywriters of old lived and died by the quality of their work. Today’s writers live and die by the deadline. Clients want work as quickly as is humanly possible without regard to quality. After all, Google indexes the Internet every couple of days. Even when quality is a requirement, clients are sometimes reluctant to pay for it.
4. Craft versus Mass Production
Along the same lines as time versus quality is the question of craft versus mass production. If creative copywriting is a craft, passing it on to the younger generation requires taking the time to help them fine-tune their skills in the workplace. However, today’s mass production model does not allow for such personal mentoring. Thus, younger writers have the degrees they need without the experience of the craft or craftsman.
5. Interdisciplinary Writing
Today’s copywriter is expected to be able to produce all sorts of copy equally well. Things were different in the old days. It used to be that a writer skilled at creating eye-catching headlines and advertising slogans focussed most of his/her efforts on those things. The modern copywriter has to do both – as well as blog, write informational articles, and so on. The need for interdisciplinary writing stifles creativity.
6. Graphic Marketing
The amount of opportunities for graphic marketing these days is tremendous. Combine graphics with a modern world that is primed for video streaming and you have a very tough environment for written text. This has, in many cases, reduced copywriting to nothing more than a tool to manipulate search engines.
7. Change Tracking
There is no denying that marketing today is driven by data. Unfortunately, our thirst for data has resulted in, among other things, change tracking by clients. Writers see tracking changes as undermining what they do because clients no longer trust their creativity. Instead, it is not uncommon for them to end up dictating, through change after change, what a piece of content actually says. There is no room for writer creativity in the worst of cases.
For better or worse, copywriting has become something completely different over the years (tweet this). There is no point in bemoaning the past when there is so much more to deal with in the future. If creative copywriting is a relic whose time has come and gone, we can blame it on search engine driven marketing.
At Connotations, we believe creative copywriting does not have to die in order to satisfy SEO needs. We believe you can do both. In fact, we demonstrate as much with the copywriting we produce. Our staff of experienced and creative writers can produce any kind of copy for your online marketing or printed materials. Please contact us for more information about article writing, blogging, brochures and pamphlets, advert copy, etc. Let us show you how creative copywriting and SEO best practices can work together to improve your business.