forget counting your words, great copywriting is about making your words count
“You’ll love this project. Loads of space for you to write loads of words! Right up your street.”
As they spoke these words, the client looked at me with a big ol’ grin that said: you copywriters always want to get loads of words on pack so here’s your chance.
But, get this, I don’t want to get loads of words on pack. In fact, no copywriter worth their salt would actively want to unless the situation demanded it.
Don’t get me wrong: I love it when I get a chance to write a really nice bit of copy that’s a little longer than traditionally used. However, when I’m asked to write some extra copy just to help the design team fill a bit of space they’re not sure what to do with, my heart sinks, as I desperately scrabble around to figure out what is worthy enough to be mentioned in this completely unnecessary piece of copy that I’ve already tried to push back on.
Just because we’ve got ‘loads of space’ doesn’t mean I want to fill it with words. After all, writing a short essay for a new range of kitchen roll is rarely necessary. Instead, I want the right amount of words.
But what is the right amount of words? Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
One product might benefit more if a hefty part of the design were crafted in a way that allowed for more copy to be worked into it. Others might not need any additional copy beyond the need-to-know.
And it’s not just about packaging; the same rule applies to all forms of copywriting. Copy should be used where necessary, whether to build a brand, tell a back story or merely to provide the essentials. It shouldn’t be used in order to fill a gap in design.
Words matter. They hold attention, convey crucial messages, add flair and charm to your branding. Just chucking them on without thinking about the purpose they serve is putting the role of copy in a worrying spot.
Copy is there to add value. That may come via one word, it may come via one thousand words. The point is, if it isn’t adding anything of worth, you should be asking yourself whether the copy should be used at all.
Don’t devalue words by chucking them around willy-nilly. Treat them with the respect they deserve.